Theatre Workshop launched its new play “Nothing ever burns down by itself” (in relation to the Chumbawamba song “Give the anarchist a cigarette”/Anarchy) on Thursday, Friday, Saturday (3-5th October) in Edinburgh.
The play broke down the barrier between the audience and the players by the total removal of seats and stage, constantly moving artists, audience and requisites around, giving the audience the feeling of really “having been there” and to “been involved”.
“Before this play, I used to think theatre is like television only crapper,” Spacebunny said at the discussion after the play. “but this play was so interactive, close to reality and brought up real-life memories, that it revised my opinion on theatre”.
The main entrance to the theatre was blocked by metal fences and riot gear policemen, so the spectators had to be sneaked in by side entrances. The auditorium had some benches in the middle and lots of rubbish bins, and some scaffoldings. I jumped on a rubbish bin and as soon as I seated myself I got a black anarchist flag pressed into my hand, which I was quite happy with.
The play started off with the tickets being colour coded and splitting the audience into different groups who assembled around various speakers. The actress who played a spokesperson for “Globalise Resistance” made a start, and after the first two sentences, I became as annoyed as usual when meeting this lot. She played quite authentically and her speeches were genuinely distressing for anarchists. Then a member of Jubilee 2000 “drop the debts” delivered her reasons for being at the event, followed up by a radical cheerleader who practised some slogans and dancing movements with the audience, and played really well, too, and a womble, whose workshop: “how to womble up”, reminded me at the same workshop at the Anarchist Bookfair last year, and a tree-house-living eco-hippie and an anarchist, who came over rather weak and confused, I, unfortunately, have to say, especially when wearing the Palestine scarf and being self-employed as his option to escape bosses; a bit more of research on his person might be advisable. Well, there was also a demo through the auditorium, where the spectators got flags and placards to carry, and beautifully designed costumes like at the RTS parties.
The pink-silver cheerleader was flying through the air and got caught and arrested by policemen, the anarchists and the others were hiding behind the rubbish bin and using it as a barricade, the whole auditorium was full of smoke and sound and noises and film sequences underlined the realistic impression of the events.
I very much liked the distribution of tea in the middle of the play as well as the lemons for protecting against teargas.
Also, there was a scene of the arrested and abused in prison, which was actually more based on the experience in Prague than actually on the brutal mass attack on the IMC Centre in Italy.
The play was very much based on the British activist scene. The preparation time for this play was quite short as stated by the actors, so the characters, unfortunately, had not had much interaction between them, but they all did a brilliantly, amazing job. The play is actually still in development. Actors and Theatre Workshop hope to get on tour next spring with this play.
And I nearly forgot that Theatre Workshop has a policy of social inclusion of disabled people, so the surrounding for disabled people in the audience is very supportive as well as that nearly all main actors in this play are disabled.
For more information contact:
Theatre Workshop (Edinburgh) Ltd
34 Hamilton Place
Tel:0131 225 7942
Fax: 0131 220 0112