Operation Black Antler

Operation Black Antler (Photo: c/o Blast Theory and Hydrocracker)

Operation Black Antler was a critically acclaimed immersive theatre piece, which in June 2016, took place in a secret locations in Chatham, Kent.

Co-commissioned by Ideas Test and Brighton Festival, it was created by BAFTA nominated artists group Blast Theory and celebrated immersive theatre company Hydrocracker.


Operation Black Antler invited the people to to enter the murky world of undercover surveillance and question the morality of state-sanctioned spying.

Audiences took on the role of an undercover officer and explored the ethics of surveillance, power and control in this groundbreaking immersive theatre piece.


What the audience thought

“Fabulous! The use of local people and various non-theatrical venues made this wonderful community immersive theatre. Thank you for bringing the production to Chatham.”

Audience Member


“Participating in theatre is terrifying and we should probably do more of it.”

Audience Member


“It’s a powerful, bewildering, unnerving experience, both during and for a considerable time after. I’m affected by what I have done, even though I know it is a fiction. And maybe worse, I know that I am willing to do what I have done again.”

WOW Magazine, Kent


In 2016, issues such as Wikileaks, the Edward Snowden affair and the revelations about the Special Demonstration Squad were in the news, and showed that there were secret forces within the state which had little respect for the law.

In Operation Black Antler the audience is given power and control and you have to choose how to exercise it.

Ideas Test believes in giving power to people in our communities, and Operation Black Antler offered people the chance not only to experience a world class piece of  immersive theatre, but also to play an active role in creating it.


Community Cast

The production featured a community cast, found via an open call, from Medway, Swale and across North Kent, who worked alongside professional actors to bring this performance to Chatham.

The community cast developed characters alongside Hydrocracker and Blast Theory and some also took part as part of the backstage and technical team.

“Wonderful, really exploratory, creative, really lovely atmosphere. It’s the involvement in the community that’s the most important thing. Someone here said that they wanted to make theatre or art that helped people change the way they think.”

Nik, Community Cast

“I am finding the politics of the piece totally resonating with what’s going on at the moment…I am trying to look at these issues through the eyes and ears of my character!”

Rosie, Community Cast


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Operation Black Antler was developed with support from Arts Council England and in partnership with Dramatic Resources.