The first of its kind to be funded by bitcoin, Silk Road, the play, ran in 2014 at the prestigious Edinburgh Festival Fringe. After a hiatus, it’s back and having a premiere in London. A one-man story based loosely on the trials and tribulations of Ross Ulbricht, who was convicted of having operated the notorious site and sentenced to two life terms, the production is both a symbol of the world’s most popular cryptocurrency’s drama and its power.
Silk Road the First Theatrical Production to be Funded by Bitcoin
Silk Road is Alex Oates’ attempt to weave mild politics in with a kind of morality tale. He was able to crowdfund his project on multiple sites, including Kickstarter. Even those participating in the original Silk Road forums were solicited, and an anonymous donor gave two bitcoin. At the time, they barely scraped 400 dollars a coin. Now, of course, they’re hovering over 11,000 USD. That, and according to press reports, Mr. Oates “has gone on to amass a ‘blockfolio’ currently worth $40,000, made up of multiple cryptocurrencies.”
Alex Oates didn’t describe himself as someone particularly interested in bitcoin prior to hearing about Silk Road. After an encounter with the site, and the subsequent arrest and conviction of its alleged mastermind, Mr. Oates saw a story there.
The Ross Ulbricht story is worth telling, and worth telling in as many different ways as tears have been shed. For mainstream media, it’s a story of drugs and forbidden websites and a mysterious currency used by scofflaws. Some of that is undoubtedly true, but there’s a deeper, almost inchoate sense of morality and proportion often missed.
Mr. Ulbricht at most brought buyers and sellers together without official sanction. He never personally sold illegal drugs. Never purchased them, either. Instead, buying and selling occurred on the Silk Road in permissionless goods and services, some of them deemed illegal by some governments.
A bright, and by all accounts, kind and brilliant young man was essentially made an example: mess with unregulated currency, facilitate anything less than completely micromanaged commercial websites, and that person is risking their life.
Silk Road, the Play
Starring UK television actor, James Baxter, Silk Road is the story of the character Bruce Blakemore, a working class bloke from North Eastern England who lives with his grandmother. Reviewers have called it “a host of unforgettable characters … [a] pitch-black comedy for the Bitcoin generation.”
Directed by Dominic Shaw, it is “the first show ever funded by the crypto currency, Bitcoin,” they claim. It follows Bruce as he and his “nan” are roped into the seedy underworld of dark websites, pirates, drugs, and eventually law enforcement.
It opens at the Vault Festival, January 24th, 2018, and runs through the 28th at the Shrapnel Theatre.
Those interested in supporting Ross Ulbricht’s future appeals are encouraged to surf over to FreeRoss.org.