Lindsey Huebner finds herself in a Wikipedia frenzy after speaking to Matt Ryan of Gameshow Theatre about new show, Nuclear Future.
Minutes after hanging up the phone with Matthew Evans, co-creator – alongside Matt Ryan – of Gameshow Theatre Company, I find myself immersed in a Wikipedia click-hole on the prevalence of all things nuclear. The concepts are not obscure, and the conflicts often speckle the newsfeeds of publications spanning the political spectrum. Through my conversation with Evans, however, I come to realise I am not alone in feeling that the immediacy of global nuclear conflicts has hitherto felt to be distant and muted on a personal level.
There are individuals, occasionally of questionable mental stability, with the power to end mankind as we know it, with the proverbial click of a button. Evans says, “Nuclear weapons affect all our lives, even though they’re not part of the public conversation. Really, everybody should know more about nuclear weapons, or at least think about nuclear weapons. They feel abstract and distant. When it’s talked about in other countries at least half-way around the world, it has no purchase on our day-to-day imagination.” Gameshow’s newest production Nuclear Future seeks to change this.
Theirs is a company that describes itself as creating projects that explore political ideas. Evans explains that the ways in which this has manifested over the years has changed. “We say ‘politics’ but what we’re really talking about is power; who has power and how it’s used. In Nuclear Future, it’s about nuclear weapons as a massive manifestation of power; totally destructive power.”
But whilst grappling with the magnitude of these issues, Nuclear Future is at its core a human story. Evans says, “It’s the story of one person: a nuclear scientist, a daughter and a mother. The piece ultimately asks, ‘How can one person make an impact on the world?’”
Whilst researching the piece, Evans and Ryan came across many things that surprised them. Evans says, “I don’t think I realised until making a show about nuclear weapons how all-pervasive and total in their influence and effect they are.” The scope of this piece, however, is not merely limited to issues surrounding nuclear weapons. “We’re also making a show about any crisis that seems overwhelming and unanswerable. This speaks to the crises we are facing globally, the problems so enormous we can’t even face trying to work them out.” he tells me.
The visual aspects of the production have been created by Joshua Pharo and they play a leading role in creating the world of the play. Pharo has worked with the team in developing a technique of stage lighting using projected light through video design. Evans says, “When the audience walk in, they will see the performer [Leda Douglas] between two empty walls in the corner of the room. Throughout the piece, visual imagery immerses the audience in the world of the performer.”
With over ten years’ experience as a theatre-making team, Evans and Ryan have developed an enviable collaborative shorthand. When I ask Evans about any stylistic hallmarks of a Gameshow production, he says all projects start as a conversation between him and Ryan. “Some stay as conversations, but some recur and grow into a creative project. We have been very lucky to have the relationship we have. That gives us an anchor to then partner with other people. We know we’ve got the core collaboration.”
When I ask Evans who he hopes the audience of the production might be, he tells me, “We don’t want to limit it. People who enjoy new theatre, people who are interested in global politics, science and the military and anyone who feels like they don’t know what’s going on in the world. Anyone who wants to make the world a better place. It’s a story that anyone can relate to as it’s about one person’s actions that can ultimately change the world. Come and see the show.”
As a company inspired by politics and power, there is no shortage of material in the current political climate for Gameshow. They seem undaunted in tackling the massive issues that impact our daily lives and bringing these issues to a level that is accessible and ultimately, human. Perhaps the difficulty in tackling the world’s ‘big problems’ is precisely that they feel so daunting and far away. Nuclear Future is, in Evan’s words: “A story that finds a human scale of facing an enormous problem,” and this has never felt more relevant. It may not be necessary for a piece of theatre to attempt to change the world, but if it can empower the individual to make change, the effect may be the same.
Nuclear Future will run from 18 – 19 October. For more information or to book tickets, visit the Camden People’s Theatre website.
The show will then tour the UK. For more information, visit Gameshow Theatre’s website.