In Wow Everything is Amazing, technological progress is both inspirational and utterly terrifying. Created by youth led theatre company Sounds Like Chaos, Wow Everything is Amazing is a musical that explores the uncertainty that comes with an ever expanding digital world.
With an original score that spans rap, gospel and hip-hop, Wow Everything is Amazing brings to mind Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World with its critical examination of our fervour for technological advancement and much like Huxley, suggests that it can be indistinguishable from religious fanaticism. The big question the show asks is whether our zeal for digital connection might make us victims of crippling loneliness and lack of purpose.
Sounds Like Chaos is a professional theatre company created by young people, aged between 12 to 21 years old from diverse backgrounds in Deptford. One of the lead actresses in the show, Amaarah Needham, joined Sounds Like Chaos when she was 14 years old. Now 18 years old, Wow Everything is Amazing is her third professional performance opportunity with the company and she has also performed in Phenomena, at the Albany, Battersea Arts Centre and the Traverse in Edinburgh, as well as Fire In the Machine, at the Albany, Battersea Arts Centre. We caught up with Amaarah, to discuss her work with Sounds Like Chaos and Wow Everything is Amazing.
Can you tell us what we can expect from Wow Everything is Amazing?
Music, great outfits and a whole lot of energy. Set in the church of the future, it poses a number of questions that are too often ignored.
How did you get involved with Sounds Like Chaos?
My drama teacher at secondary school suggested I’d join since I wanted to continue drama after year 9 but my school didn’t offer a Drama GCSE (another reason why theatre companies like this are so important).
Sounds Like Chaos is a theatre company where the shows are created by young people for young people. What has the experience been like working with the company?
It’s been really great. I’ve had such a great experience performing in so many performances throughout the years I’ve been with Sounds Like Chaos. I’ve attended and ran workshops with so many different people that I now feel very comfortable to lead classes and workshops by myself in all sorts of environments, with different people, ages and backgrounds.
Does creating a show, and in a sense running a theatre company (making decisions on the show, music, choreography, direction) ever become daunting or challenging? What challenges do you think you face against other theatre groups?
Due to the way in which we create, the work is never presented to us in a way that feels daunting. In fact, it gives us a huge sense of pride when we are on stage saying or singing words we have contributed to create and develop.
One of the central themes in Wow Everything is Amazing concerns whether technology shapes us or whether we shape technology. For people of your generation, what would you say are some of the negative and positive effects of technology?
As with everything, technology is as good or as bad as you make it. In a sense, it’s great because you can easily decide what your timeline consists of, making it easy to isolate and remove negativity if you choose to. However, it also means that social issues that deserve attention can be easily dismissed and one can end up living in a bubble.
With constant stories surrounding Brexit, AI, and automation taking people’s jobs, etc, do you think it’s harder for young people to remain hopeful? Are there any things which make you feel optimistic about the future?
Being a young person in the arts, I think there is always things to be hopeful for, especially with the way it is being made more free and accessible. Everything is always progressing, we just have to find a way to finesse it and make it work for us. There has never been job security for anyone; first we were told that going to uni would guarantee us employment and that wasn’t true, so I think we’re finally finding ways to feed ourselves in the best way we know how.
What attracted you to performing in the theatre in the first place?
I’ve always been fairly loud and dramatic so but never really engaged in any of the arts outside of education until I got to secondary school, which is when I realised that being loud and dramatic wasn’t necessarily a bad thing and that I could channel it into something productive. What initially attracted me to it was the fact that I felt more comfortable to be myself when I was on stage because I had an excuse. Then after I became more confident about performing I realised that my work could be used in a positive way.
What’s next after this show? Exams, more acting? Any other projects from Sounds Like Chaos that we should know about?
Once this show finishes, I’m going to be a trainee with Sounds Like Chaos and The Albany, taking part in the Woodpecker Youth Club to develop my ability to run workshops with young people. After that, I’m just going to figure it out as I go along, and continue getting as much experience in acting, directing and facilitating as I can.
Sounds Like Chaos and the Albany present
WOW EVERYTHING IS AMAZING
A new religion for the digital future by Generation Z
The Albany, London, Tue 16 – Thu 18 April, 7.30pm
New Diorama, London, Mon 24 June, 8.30pm
HOME, Manchester, Sat 29 June, 7pm
Tobacco Factory, Bristol, Sun 30 June, 7pm