The Believers Are But Brothers is an urgent political riff on young men and the internet adapted for television from an award-winning play.
Writer, director and activist Javaad Alipoor steps into the dark, blurry online world of fantasists and extremists to tell three fictional stories – of two British ISIS recruits and an Alt-Right “white boy” from California.
Extremists of all persuasions communicate openly on social media channels and it is here that Alipoor found young men burning with resentment and empowered by digital fantasy. These encounters inspired his play which captivated audiences with its portrayal of a shifting world of truth, fantasy, violence and hyper-reality just one click away. Now adapted for television, and performed by Alipoor, it promises to give BBC Four audiences an insight into this disturbing digital realm.
Through the screens on our phones and in our homes, and the apps we use every day, Alipoor explores the online radicalisation of young men via an electronic maze of meme culture, 4chan, the Alt-Right and ISIS. Along the way he uncovers a toxic mix of the harmlessly bizarre and the horrific; gaming and online chatrooms, infamous ads and propaganda, brutal misogyny and weird fantasy where, seemingly cut off from real world values and boosted by anonymity, anything can be said or done.
“An extraordinary, teched up show….The buzz of last year’s Edinburgh Fringe” The New York Times
“Full of dark poetry and sheer analytical power” The Scotsman ★★★★
“A window into the frightening virtual world” Time Out ★★★★
The Believers Are But Brothers was broadcast on BBC Four on Sunday 24 March at 10pm and could be seen on iPlayer following the broadcast.
About this artist
Javaad Alipoor is an artist, director, writer and activist who regularly makes theatre with and for communities that don’t usually engage in the arts. He is a Scotsman Fringe First and Columbia University Digital Storytelling Award winner. In 2017 his play, The Believers Are But Brothers, opened at Transform Festival in Leeds before transferring for a sold-out, critically acclaimed run at Summerhall at the Edinburgh Fringe, where it received a Scotsman Fringe First Award. The production then ran at London’s Bush Theatre before its world tour.
Last year, Alipoor directed the stage adaptation of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest for Sheffield Theatres, to mark the end of his three-year tenure as Associate Director at The Crucible Theatre.
His previous stage work includes Orgreave: An English Civil War, about the Miners’ Strike and the Arab Spring and My Brother’s Country, about murdered Iranian pop icon Fereydoun Farrokhzad.
This summer, Alipoor will direct the second part of a trilogy, continuing many of the themes explored in The Believers Are But Brothers such as the crisis of masculinity, the role internet and the rise of youth disengaged across the globe; this new production will open in Edinburgh in August 2019.
Javaad Alipoor is Artistic Director of Northern Lines, resident of The Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio, a collaborator of The National Theatre’s Immersive Story Studio, a member of Arts Council England’s Northern Council, and was a founding trustee of Artistic Directors of the Future.