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A Machine they're Secretly Building

I want you to know what’s happening…

From what might be a news desk, an office, a bedroom, a bunker under a mountain or a theatre, two people – reporters, senators, freedom fighters, or just… well… concerned citizens like you – think about what it is to speak up, speak out, blow the whistle and lift the veil.

A MACHINE THEY’RE SECRETLY BUILDING charts a course from the Top Secret secrets of WWI intelligence (via the moon, 1972’s Chess World Championships, a disco in Oklahoma and the cafeteria at CERN) through to 9/11, the erosion of privacy, Edward Snowden and the terror of a future that might already be upon us.

Proto-type have combined original text and classified intelligence documents with film from digital artist Adam York Gregory, and music and sound design by Paul J. Rogers, to vent their frustration at the insidious machine of surveillance.

A MACHINE THEY’RE SECRETLY BUILDING is about how we got to the point where our governments are spying on us and how that’s changing who we are.



Duration: 1 hour approx. No interval.
Suitability: 14 years & over –


Written and directed by Andrew Westerside Devised and performed by Rachel Baynton and Gillian Lees Digital design and artwork by Adam York Gregory Original sound design and music by Paul J. Rogers
Stage Manager Thomas Marcinek
Producer Gillian Lees | Consultant Producer Matt Burman
A Machine they’re Secretly Building was commissioned by Lincoln Performing Arts Centre (Lincoln), Warwick Arts Centre (Warwick) and hÅb (Manchester). Supported by Tramway, Glasgow, Lancaster Arts at Lancaster University, the Britten-Pears Foundation and the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

About the company

Proto-type are a company of multi-disciplinary artists led by Rachel Baynton, Gillian Lees, and Andrew Westerside.
We create original performance work that is diverse in scale, subject and medium. Recently, this has included touring theatre (A Machine they’re Secretly Building), a two-week long theatrical experience using pervasive technologies (Fortnight), a multimedia concert-performance featuring a live laptop orchestra and animation (The Good, the God and the Guillotine) and a radio drama with the BBC (The Forgotten Suffragette).
We’ve been making work and supporting young artists in the US, the Netherlands, Russia, China, Armenia, France, Zimbabwe and the UK since 1997. Critics have called our work ‘an intriguing brush with altered reality’ (New York Times), ‘daring, experimental and theatrically engaging’ (Theatremania) and ‘enthralling’ (Zambezi News).


Standard: £13

Concessions: £11 

Double Bill ticket offer: £20 for A Machine they're Secretly Building & The Audit

Tickets & Times

  • This is coolly reasoned theatre, produced by Proto-type Theater with stylish aplomb
    Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

  • A sharing of disbelief, an articulate wail of anger
    British Theatre Guide

  • The kind of theatre that seeps into the sub-conscious
    The List