A play based on the story of notorious online black market Silk Road will debut at the Edinburgh Festival in August. Like its online namesake, the production will be funded by bitcoin.
The play, entitled 'Silk Road’, sets the Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR) story in the north of England, and is reportedly based on writer Alex Oates' interviews with real-life website vendors.
It's a one-man play told through the eyes of DPR – who has still not been definitely identified – as he encounters both new online and economic realities, and the more traditional characters inhabiting them.
Producers are inviting bitcoin donations, but 'Silk Road' has also reportedly received funding from the Kevin Spacey Foundation, a charitable organisation started by the Hollywood actor that funds development of creative projects and provides scholarships to talented creatives in the UK and US.
'Silk Road’ the play invites audiences to:
"Take an adrenaline-fuelled ride into Whitley Bay’s underworld. A tale of a struggling young Geordie tech-head, Bruce Blakemore, who gets caught up in a World Wide Web of new age pirates, local gangsters & innovative postal methods."
A message on the official site says the production aims to raise 40 BTC through donations, by appealing to bitcoin users:
"Writing the play, Alex was struck by the generous and highly intelligent nature of bitcoin owners and Silk Road users.
This play talks about issues of personal freedom and libertarian ideals that are close to the heart of many TOR and bitcoin users and in no way criticizes the use of such marketplaces."
The 'real' Silk Road was an online marketplace accessible to users of the Tor network, which sold a collection of legal and illegal items and used bitcoin as its primary currency.
Shut down by the FBI in October, it has been both praised for demonstrating the advantages of bitcoin use and condemned for damaging the technology's reputation.
The man accused of being the mastermind behind Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, awaits trial after his indictment for conspiracy to traffic narcotics, computer hacking and money laundering. His defence team has questioned whether any evidence exists to convict him, or whether it is even possible to launder a payment token that is not officially money.
Directed by Dominic Shaw and starring UK TV actor James Baxter in the lead and only role, 'Silk Road' will appear at the Assembly in Edinburgh during the Fringe festival. There will also be a preview in London at the New Diorama Theatre on 27th July.