November 17, 2021
Shake a leg! Actors to run between Sheffield theatres in simultaneous staging
by Tom Clayton
Have you ever felt like you need to be in three places at once at work? Well, spare a thought for the cast of Rock/Paper/Scissors.
As reported this week in What’s On Stage and elsewhere, three theatres in Sheffield, UK—The Crucible, The Lyceum and The Studio—will play host in June and July 2022 to a new trilogy of plays by Chris Bush. With the same cast. At the same time.
Rock/Paper/Scissors, which concerns the story of Sheffield’s oldest scissor factory, is being staged as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations for the Sheffield Theatres company. The What’s On Stage report describes the logistics:
Described as “a theatrical first,”… As characters leave one scene, the actors portraying them are set to dash to another venue to enter another scene as the same characters and so on.
Speaking to The Guardian, Robert Hastie, the artistic director of Sheffield Theatres, labelled the venture…
…a bit bonkers. We don’t quite know if it’s going to work. We’ve got faith in ourselves and in the people we work with, but it’s going to mean a lot of people putting on their trainers and sprinting between theatres.
Luckily for the cast, the three venues that make up the Sheffield Theatres complex are relatively close together: The Crucible and Studio are housed in the same building, while The Lyceum is a short hop across Tudor Square.
Nevertheless, this is an audacious venture that will require “spreadsheets and sticky notes” in order to ensure all three productions run smoothly. “The three plays exist independently of each other, each story is self-contained. But the audience will be aware of the whole project. Hopefully, that gets them a bit closer to the workings of the whole complex. It’s not just about what happens on stage.”
The Crucible, a Brutalist yin to The Lyceum’s Proscenium yang, is no stranger to ambitious production decisions. It is also globally renowned for staging the World Snooker Championship each April, and in 2016 its sporting and dramatic worlds collided with a production of The Nap—during which actor Jack O’Connell was required to play a frame of snooker in front of a live audience each night. Speaking to the BBC, at the time, O’Connell described how “in the afternoons, I would go down to the club and hire a table and play a few frames against myself, to study the art of angles.”
Of course, the cast of Rock/Paper/Scissors will be dealing with a different set of cues altogether—ones they’ll need to perfect if they don’t want to keep audiences waiting for the next line.
Tom Clayton is publishing executive at Melville House UK.