Guest Blog Post: The Scrappy Young Sister called Gig Theatre

FIRES OUR SHOES HAVE MADE is a piece of gig theatre that uses hip-hop-influenced spoken word to give a voice to the underestimated and misrepresented youth. You can catch it as part of SPRINT Festival on Sun 15 Mar at 5.30pm. Click here for more details. 

In this blog post, named ‘The Scrappy Young Sister called Gig Theatre’, writer Oscar Sadler explains how he created the show, and the huge influence of music on theatre and life. 

I feel like there are two types of people: the whole albumers and the shufflers. I sit firmly in that last category. Mainly because I don’t feel like I deserve to listen to a whole album.

Like, that’s a treat. That’s for the put together people. That’s the ‘let’s entertain the guests at Christmas’ kind of people. Aspirational.

Us shufflers, however, convince ourselves that we’ve got no time to properly listen to music. So we get what we’re given. A weird amalgamation of pop, hip-hop and indie rock vibes peppered with that one classical piece we saved so we feel smart. We might be a mess but we’re the ones gunning for the future; if something’s not worth our time, after three seconds we skip it.

I think that’s why writing a play was a fucking nightmare. I would love to tell you that when we went to Edinburgh, in the summer of 2019, we had a text that had been rewritten over and over for the past two years. That would have been a dream. Aspirational. Instead, Fires Our Shoes Have Made was written during two consecutive all-nighters.

16,500 words in 32 hours. If you just winced, I appreciate that.

The reason why that is probably quite important is because we, as Pound of Flesh, are young, hungry and passionate. So much so that all of those bleed heavily into our process. We’ve got time for academia and research is always a must, but what we care about most of all is producing a piece of theatre that invokes the same emotions in the audience as it did in us when we made it.

Enter Gig Theatre.

The scrappy younger sister of beat and slam poetry. Undefined and unrefined. The new kid on the block. An amalgamation of different music genres, theatrical forms, and linguistic techniques.

Welcome, fellow shuffler. It was as close to Rowling’s Ollivander’s as I’ll ever experience. The form chose me. But, when we talked it through as a company we hit on a good point.

The gig theatre that we’d seen was good, yes, but us? Not quite; we hadn’t seen an exact style that we could nick. There were too many rhyming couplets and not enough pace. So, living out my childhood fantasy, we decided that Fires should be written like one long, early 90s style, rap. The 13-year-old in me started buzzing.

Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that everyone has a permanent snarl or wears chains. Thank God. What it really means is that there’s no formal rhyming structure. Lines interlace and get as frenetic as the story that Jay and Saskia end up telling. At its peak, there are 50 words in seven seconds. Mics are held in spitting distance from lisps. A drum pad takes center stage.

The audience is encouraged to bob their heads.

What was Fires written to?

– Kate Tempest – ‘Ketamine For Breakfast’

– The Notorious B.I.G – ‘Warning’

– The Beatles – ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’

– The Streets – ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’ (one for the albumers, it’s genuis)

– Laura Marling – ‘Devils Spoke’

– Mobb Deep – ‘Up North Trip’

– Xzibit – ‘Criminal Set’

– Groove Armada – ‘At the River’