Guest Blog: SharkLegs Company on The Dark Side of Amazon

In this blog, Sharklegs talks about why it is important for them to explore the cost Amazon fulfilment centres in their show Fulfilment.

Fulfilment will be at CPT until Sat 28 Sept. Click here to find out more. 

“But Amazon so convenient.” is a phrase we’ve heard from family, friends and colleagues when we told them about the new show we were making . “Amazon is easy. It’s quick. I get what I want the next day!”. And it’s true, we used Amazon before we started making Fulfilment and didn’t think much further when ordering ‘emergency UV paint’ for rehearsals the next day. 

One click and it’s here.

That was until we met over 70 real Fulfilment Centre Workers and heard their stories. Yes – once you’ve sat down for a coffee, a beer, or to share a packet of crisps with a someone who has to walk 10 to 15 miles every day to pick and pack your emergency UV paint you very quickly stop needing it tomorrow.

So – we don’t use Amazon anymore.

“Yeah – I work there, so what? You want me to say something like in that Panorama?”

So began a chance interaction with Graham [not his real name]. We had been developing the show for 10 months and had hit a creative wall. That was until Graham overheard us chatting on the train and we made the connection from the mountains of research we had accumulated to the real people who live the experience. After explaining that we weren’t looking for ‘dirt’ but were keen on meeting the real workers, Graham relaxed and begin chatting with us, he even introduced us to some of the other workers he knew – although he couldn’t quite comprehend why we were so interested – “It’s just a job. No one likes their job”.

As soon as we began our run of Fulfilment at the Underbelly in Edinburgh, we got talking to our audiences. Everyone uses Amazon. Everyone. Old and young, wealthy and low income, it has become the default option for shopping online because Amazon literally sell everything you could need. Even the Fulfilment Centre workers we interviewed use Amazon – in the same breath that they told us they’ve been forced to come in to work sick because they could lose their job, they told us they could pick up items they ordered from the Amazon safe lockers as they left work.

Amazon is a one-stop shop for the whole world! That’s really why we made this show. Fulfilment is disarmly funny and playful and our charming puppet Robox will befriend the audience from the moment the stage lights turn on. There’s no point lecturing an audience, you need to win them over and Robox is our secret weapon!

By ordering online, we are blind to what goes on behind the scenes. Our life is made easier, so it becomes difficult to empathise with the Fulfilment Centre Workers we don’t see and that is why this show is important. By using the verbatim stories of these workers we are able to give a platform to the people who work tirelessly for our convenience. Their stories are right in front of you. You can see the real sweat, and in this show you can eat the real hobnobs. We wanted to make this show to bring the voices from the people behind the screen to the people who sit in front of it.