Take a deep dive into the dark web with a bold multimedia theatre performance that weaves together the stories of tech-savvy extremist groups and anonymous users who burn with resentment and unfulfilled self-entitlement as they fall into online worlds of fantasy and violence.

The Moss Arts Center presents writer and performer Javaad Alipoor’s newest work, “The Believers Are But Brothers,” on Friday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. This private performance is broadcasted live from a theatre in Manchester, United Kingdom, especially for Moss Arts Center patrons, and includes real-time parallel social media interaction with the show. A post-performance conversation will be moderated by Neal M. King, professor in Virginia Tech’s Department of Sociology, whose research explores masculinity and violent male heroism.

Ticketholders have access to the performance as it happens and for seven days following the event.

The Islamic State is a terrorist organization with a media presence like no other. Groups like Al Qaeda have broadcasted their acts with grainy handheld video recorders, while ISIS trades on a visual language that owes as much to the television show “Game of Thrones” and video game “Call of Duty” as it does to the aesthetic of other violent non-state actors. The organization’s violence is as theatrical as its propaganda.

In early 2016, Alipoor made contact with a number of young Muslims who run Islamic State group-supporting social media accounts, as well as young men active with the online alt-right. Working with journalists and specialists, Alipoor made relationships with the curators of Islamic State group news sites and its supporters. Delving deeper, he found himself lost in an electronic maze of terrorists, neo-fascists, fantasists, and police spies.

“The Believers Are But Brothers” tells this story, inviting audiences into that web to engage with the resentment, violence, and networks of power that are dismantling the structures of 20th century liberalism and social democracy. Alipoor reframes the rise of violent and apocalyptic Islamic extremism in the crucible of an international crisis of masculinity and the toxic underground networks of the internet that it breeds.

As part of the performance, audiences will be invited to join a private, temporary WhatsApp group chat. This is optional, but will enhance the performance experience. Please note that this performance contains adult themes and is recommended for ages 14 and older.

Alipoor regularly makes theatre with and for communities that do not usually engage in the arts. “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.

Alipoor will speak with Virginia Tech students about the themes and research process associated with “The Believers Are But Brothers” in three separate engagement sessions involving the following classes: East Meets West (History), Cybercriminology (Criminology), Creativity and the Artistic Experience (Fine Arts), Theories of Crime and Delinquency (Sociology), and Global Conflict and War (International Studies).

Ticket information

Tickets are $10 for general public and free for Virginia Tech students. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center's box office, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.

This is the final performance in the Moss Arts Center’s successful fall “HomeStage” series, a curated collection of virtual events offering opportunities to engage directly with artists through distinct performances and conversations.

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