When I arrive at the Crucible Theater in Sheffield, one of the main doors is operational – a simple mistake that is easily fixed by a caregiver with a toolbox. Yet it is a small accident that is currently bothering the creative team behind the new product Rock / paper / scissors.
The ambitious trilogy, written by Sheffield-born playwright Chris Bush to mark the theater’s 50th anniversary, will feature three interconnected plays simultaneously at three Sheffield theaters – Crucible, Lyceum and Studio. A single company of 14 actors will present all three actors, with the cast rushing to the center of the scene. Each entrance is down to the second – a broken door and the whole project can stop.
When I meet three directors, art director Robert Hasty says, “We wanted to do something like an event. Paper) And playwright mid-rehearsal. “Something that only theater can do and that we have lost in the epidemic. And something happens [irresistible] About the stupidity of trying to do three plays at the same time in three different places with the same artist.
Enterprise is an in-depth stress test of multiple moving parts involved in any live performance – from precise tooling of scripts, to numerous drafts, spreadsheets and late nights for Bush (“The worst moment was when we had eight – pause where a character was not needed”), rehearsals Synchronizing schedules and unexpected (such as faulty doors or sudden rain) war-gaming headaches.
Explaining former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Hasty said, “There are known unknown and then unknown unknown. “We get a lot of things and we go, ‘Oh yes, of course you can’t do that, which breaks the laws of physics.’
Screen calls, for example, present a problem. How exactly will they work?
“That’s a good question, a good question….” Scissors. An anxious smile runs through the assembled company.
But the unknown causes the crew the most insomnia of the night. When the National Theater painted Alan Eikbourne’s deputy in 2000 Home and garden (Which similarly divides an artist into two stages) He developed a contingency plan: if an actor was late on the way, the “emergency” barking dog sound effect would be activated, warning the performers on stage to slow down. But, Bush explains, adding a third play means there’s no such thing as a safety net: “When you change something that turns off the wheel, it’s a knock-on effect.”
Rock / paper / scissors However, technical knowledge is much more than a masochistic exercise. It is very profound: a joyous celebration of the immediate and collaborative nature of live theater, and a compassionate and subtle exploration of far-reaching contemporary questions.
Bush’s troll is set in a scissors factory: a one-time example of Sheffield’s proud tradition of steel and blade production, now reduced to a handful of trainees working in one corner of the building. The action unfolds in a single, critical day as three generations fight for the site’s future. It should continue as a factory and keep that legacy alive (Scissors)? Or find new life as a place of music (Rock)? What about converting space into an upmarket flat?Paper)?
At the heart of the project is the question of what we want to do with our city centers, our architectural heritage, and the buildings that were once the country’s industrial product. And what happens to young people. The focus on steel is specifically for Sheffield, but Bush suggests that this dilemma has a much wider resonance.
“Any big city or town would be known for something that doesn’t really do anything, and these discussions are going to happen,” she says. “We’re trying to figure out what cities are for, what high roads are for, and what we can use that social space for.”
The key to Trology is that it does not give a single answer. The playground is named after the game in which any player can beat the other, the three plays act as separate plays, but together they offer a 3D perspective in which there is no upper hand of any argument. Anthony Lau, director RockIt is likened to a meme in which three Spiderman stand in a circle pointing fingers at each other.
That three-pronged approach is very important for Bush, especially in a world full of cultural wars and blame games: “We are all heroes in our own narratives, but we all have the potential to be inadvertently villains somewhere.” Here we have three different perspectives, three different generations, three different perspectives. Each of those generations – the older generation approaching retirement, the younger generation looking at the prospects ahead of them, the younger generation dropping out of school, and the twisted middle class – has the argument that they feel the most distressed. “
In the rehearsal room you can see how the tone and texture of the play reflects the protagonist’s concerns and how each show is prepared for its specific theater. Scissors, Intended for a 400-seat studio space, is intimate, the room is filled with racks of workbenches, tools and Caesar blanks (provided by the working factory Ernest Wright). The script is funny and the mood is lively and lively, the energy and frustration of the young trainees is charged.
Training space for Paper (Which will play under the arc of Lyceum’s Prosenium) Quickly feels dry, the dialogue is crisp: this is the place where debates about money, documents and principles take place in unused desks and boxes and stacks of files. More open and epic Rock The 980-seat Thrust-Stage Crucible occupies a large empty space in which the characters encounter it in excellent duet songs.
“The physical architecture of space defines the tone and style of work going on in it,” says Lau. “Being able to celebrate those three different places in one project is fantastic. It shows how they complement each other and how you can find different ways to highlight characters and ideas by size. Artists need to re-adjust to different scales and sizes and tones of performances, in the middle of the show. “
The challenge for the performers will be to shuttle in three theaters, adapting the characters to the needs of each location. And the design also means that no actor has an overall small role: a character who appears for five minutes in one play may be the lead in another. For Bush, that richness is the greatest thing in this remarkable, adventurous and playful epic.
“Theater is an instrument of empathy,” she says. “It’s a group of people from very different socio-economic backgrounds, lives and generations who all feel marginalized. None of these plays have the life they want or that they don’t feel they deserve, and they have to wrestle for it. It is important to balance these three and say ‘there are no villains here’. These are stories of very uncertain times. “
June 16-July 2, sheffieldtheatres.co.uk
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