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Non zero one – Hold Hands/Lock Horns at Future Fest

Arts Editor Jessica Moffat-Owen speaks to non zero one theatre company to find out more about Hold Hands/Lock Horns, which will be showing at Future Fest in Shoreditch Town Hall, 28th-29th September.


What is Future Fest?

It’s pretty cool, a focus on futurology and all things futuristic. Something a bit different from the usual festival around London.

And who are non zero one exactly?

non zero one are a theatre and performance art company, who have put on a number of critically acclaimed shows, which have been shown at the National Theatre, amongst other venues.

How did non zero one become involved with Future Fest?

NESTA, the charity organising Future Fest, worked with the National Theatre whilst non zero one were performing another production there. The National recommended us for the festival and hey presto!

What is the premise of Hold Hands/Lock Horns then?

A vast amount of audience participation is involved, so if you love getting stuck in, you’ll be fine. Audience members work their way down the “decision tree” by making a choice at each stage. At the end of the process, the participant will have answered a route of questions, and will end up as a number between 1 and 64. We then conduct an interview and these interview videos are shared, with those people who all ended up the same number, via a secure online space. It sounds complicated, I know, but really it is forcing each audience member to make a choice at every juncture. The questions have been carefully selected too, so there are no questions too heavily focused on the future early on in the ‘tree’ (obviously, Future Fest attendants are likely to be swayed by the future and will have arrived with a preconceived idea). Likewise, a question such as, “brains versus brawn” wouldn’t be followed by a question like, “science or adventure”, as someone who chose brains would consider science the next logical answer. Make sense? Find out more here:

Why did non zero one choose this piece to launch for Future Fest?

Everyone coming to the festival has futurology on the brain, but Hold Hands/Lock Horns changes this attitude. It focuses on the choice you are presented with at that moment in time. It really entails consecutive present moments, rather than the future as a whole.

Some of you may question whether this can truly be regarded as theatre. I hear cries of, “But it isn’t Shakespeare!” I asked non zero one about this and John explained…

I would be inclined to agree and say that Hold Hands/Lock Horns isn’t staunchly traditional theatre at all and is performance art, but the two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. If theatre were to focus on scripts and rehearsals and settings and lighting… Well Hold Hands/Lock Horns has all these things. So maybe it is theatre after all.

(Sarah) – I was listening to a debate on Radio 4 about the use of the words, ‘bacteria’ and ‘bacterium’ – a slight tangent, but roll with it. It is more about how the word is used in daily life – with the interchangeability of theatre and performance being a hot topic currently.

For you theatrical visionaries who might be reading this, I got some tips on how to become involved with performance art and quirky cooperative theatre:

(Sarah) – Start with just one small idea and go through the process of escalating it. The process will help you figure out what works… and what doesn’t.

(Alex) – Don’t be afraid of collaboration! Non zero one are a company with 6 participants, and it allows ideas to bounce off each other.

(John) – I advocate going to pick up leaflet from theatres around London, such as the National or the Barbican, and to attend as many performances as you can. By watching lots of theatre, you’ll learn what you like and what you don’t – hopefully gaining inspiration along the way.

Finally, what is non zero one’s top pick to see at Future Fest?

The techno cellist Peter Gregson.


The charity organising Future Fest is Nesta. See their other projects and read up on them here:

For more information on non zero one, visit:

And for more information on Future Fest, go to:



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