Department of Drama and Theatre Arts alumni Matthew Gabrielli wrote his new play Zombiegate while he was studying at the University of Birmingham. The play is being performed in November 2022 at Theatre 503 in London. He tells us more about his new play and how his Masters at Birmingham helped him.

Matthew Gabrielli

Experience studying at Birmingham

I moved to Birmingham in 2015 to attend University of Birmingham’s Masters in Playwriting Studies. Over the course of the year, I would write the first 3 drafts of my play Zombiegate which is currently running at Theatre 503. I had an idea of the type of subject matter I wanted to explore but at that time no story or characters.

Over the course of the first term, I read a lot plays and watched a lot of theatre, both professional produced in Birmingham and other Midlands’ Theatres and UoB’s undergrad student production at the George Cadbury Hall Theatre.

What is Zombiegate about?

Zombiegate was inspired by internet trolls, I wanted to try and understand why they did what they did. As I started researching the play, I found that there were loads of complicated stories about how social media was changing the world we lived in and the impact it had on peoples’ lives. I became fascinated about who had power on the internet and slowly a story started to form. 

Punch and Judy in the Zombiegate play – featuring Chand Martinez and Virginia Thompson (Photo by Danny Kaan, 2022)

Zombiegate is a funny and timely play about how social media and the internet are changing society and the impact that has on people’s lives.  It follows the story of Sophie and Jamie who have just been cancelled, a misplaced selfie has gone viral, and the pair have been accused of mocking a dead child. But their troubles are only just beginning. As the real and digital world collide, their lives and friendship are ripped apart by algorithms, online mobs and an obsessive troll called Mr Punch.

Taking a selfie on a phone in the Zombiegate play – featuring George Howard and Ebony Jonelle (Photo by Danny Kaan, 2022)

The play explores subjects which are talked about a lot but rarely with empathy and nuance. It’s been made by an exciting and dynamic creative team and it won’t be like anything else you see this autumn. It’s a small world and our Production Manager Misha Mah is also a fellow UoB alumnus.

I had a great time at Birmingham working with fellow writers and creatives and I’m really proud to be sharing the play with audiences.

How can you see the play?

Zombiegate runs from 1 – 19 November at Theatre 503, 503 Battersea Park Rd, London SW11 3BW