Ella Greenhill is one of Liverpool’s up-and-coming playwrights and her new work Plastic Figures premieres at the Playhouse Studio tonight and tomorrow. Produced by Manchester-based theatre company Box of Tricks, Liverpool is the first stop on a national tour for the play, described as “moving and touchingly funny”.
Inspired by events in Greenhill’s life, Plastic Figurines explores autism and the relationship between siblings with very different views of the world. Brother and sister Mikey and Rose find that when their mum is diagnosed with leukaemia, their world is plunged into chaos.
The two-hander stars Jamie Samuel (Jumpers for Goalposts, Paines Plough, Hull Truck and Watford Palace – winner of best actor at the Off West End Awards 2014) and the fabulous Remmie Milner (Melody Loses Her Mojo, Liverpool Playhouse and Curve Leicester).
The production is directed by Box of Tricks’ joint artistic director and co-founder Adam Quayle, designed by award-winning designer Katie Scott (Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse Studio Design Prize), lighting by Richard Owen and sound designed by Chris James. The play will be the first associate producer role within the company for Amy Fisher who has been chosen as one of the BBC Performing Arts Fund’s Fellows and 32 to watch in 2015.
Playwright Ella Carmen Greenhill was a writer-on-attachment with the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse and a writer-in-residence with Paines Plough, in collaboration with Channel 4. She is currently developing a play for young people as part of the 2012 Skylines project with Theatre Centre and Manchester Royal Exchange as well as a collaborative project at the Unity; last year she co-wrote Mind the Gap there too. She has recently been named as one of the Theatre503’s 503Five playwrights, and is a winner of Coronation Street’s Original Voices scheme. Her most recent play Made in Britain premiered at The Old Red Lion Theatre in January.
She said: “Plastic Figurines is in many ways a very personal play. It is inspired by my own experiences of autism, sibling relationships and losing my mum. At the same time it is a complete work of fiction and, whilst Rose and Michael are very close to my heart, they are not me and my brother. During the research process I spoke to a lot of people about their experiences of being close to someone on the autistic spectrum, a great piece I read said ‘if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism’. I think that’s so true and it really gave me the freedom to show my own experience through the play. “
Director Adam Quayle added: “Ella Carmen Greenhill has proven herself a huge talent and I’m thrilled Box of Tricks is taking Plastic Figurines out on tour. The play is a real example of our commitment to the next generation of playwrights: Originally commissioned as a 15 minute short, we have developed the story through our New Tricks programme with support from the Lowry and embark on a six-week national studio tour of the full production in April.
“I was drawn to the play as it deals with big themes – grief, guilt, memory, family, autism – through nuanced writing and an acutely-observed sibling relationship at the heart of the piece. Plastic Figurines is a beautifully measured, universal piece of writing – by turns funny and moving – that unflinchingly explores what it is to be human.”
The production is the second national touring production for Manchester-based Box of Tricks, a theatre company that champions the next generation of playwrights.
Plastic Figurines will open at Liverpool Playhouse Studio tonight (April 8) and then tour London, Hemel Hampstead, Bury, Hull, Halifax, Southport, Ellesmere Port, Barnsley, Harrogate, Salford Quays, Derby, Wigan, Shrewsbury and finishing in Mold. For more info, , visit www.boxoftrickstheatre.co.uk.