Proto-type Theater’s two plays examining contemporary political issues are touring to selected theatres this spring.
Both shows combine original text and classified intelligence documents, film, animation and specially composed music to inform, entertain and challenge. Through dark humour, wit and irony they analyse and dissect modern issues that affect us all, creating smart, intelligent, thought-provoking – and above all accessible and entertaining – theatre.
Set amidst the crash of the global financial markets THE AUDIT (or Iceland, a modern myth) looks at the human cost of the corporate and personal greed that consumes countries – and tells how one small nation raised their voices in protest to rail against the currents. How can a small island nation survive when it is going it alone with economic relationships? (Sound familiar in Brexit Britain?). In a world where the driving force behind nearly every decision that affects our daily lives is profit, THE AUDIT is about finding strength, overcoming a world designed to keep us docile, and seeks to show that collective power can move a mountain – even if only a little.
It’s sister play A Machine they’re Secretly Building, examines government surveillance. The show takes in the 1972 chess world championships between Bobby Fischer of the United States and defending champion Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union; a disco in Oklahoma; the cafeteria at CERN [the European organisation for nuclear research]; the erosion of privacy and Edward Snowden, former Central Intelligence Agency employee turned whistle-blower. It charts a course from the secrets of WWI intelligence through to 9/11 and the terror of a future that might already be upon us.
‘A Machine They’re Secretly Building is about how we got to the point where our governments are spying on us and how that’s changing who we are,’ said writer and director Andrew Westerside. Rachel said ‘We conceived The Audit as a companion piece to A Machine, throughout our investigations for that show we kept coming back to the unavoidable truth that money is behind everything.’ Gillian added ‘In researching the show, we spoke to academic economics experts as well as with special interest and community groups across the country to share experiences and discuss the profit motive that is behind the decisions and systems that govern our daily lives.’
On a research visit to Canary Wharf to look at art on display in the major banks’ foyers Gillian and Rachel were ejected from Barclays, despite brandishing their company Barclaycard to identify as customers. ‘It’s art’ announced the security guard sternly ‘it’s not on display to be looked at’.
This is thoroughly entertaining, incisive, fact-based theatre based on extensive research. It opens our eyes, makes us think and challenges us to question what we are told. In an increasingly divided and unpredictable world The Audit and A Machine They’re Secretly Building are becoming increasingly relevant.
‘This is coolly reasoned theatre, produced with stylish aplomb.’ – Lyn Gardner, The Guardian
Both these lively and fun shows are written and directed by Westerside and devised and performed by Rachel Baynton and Gillian Lees, with digital design from Adam York Gregory (‘so seamlessly incorporated into the action it’s almost another performer’ Exeunt) and original music and sound design by Paul J Rogers.
Proto-type are a company of multi-disciplinary artists led by Rachel Baynton, Gillian Lees, and Andrew Westerside. The company has been making work and supporting young artists in the US, the Netherlands, Russia, China, Armenia, France, Zimbabwe and the UK since 1997. www.proto-type.org
22 March, A Machine They're Secretly Building, Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester
24 April, The Audit, York Theatre Royal Studio
25 April, The Audit, Theatre in the Mill, Bradford
22 May, Sheffield Crucible Theatre Studio
23 May, Harrogate Studio Theatre
24 May, The Civic, Barnsle