Hello! We’re Pipeline Theatre and we need your help producing our new show.
What’s the show about?
The play is called Drip Drip Drip. It’s set in the NHS, and looks at how we dehumanise those who are different from us. On an overstretched oncology ward an ethnically diverse clinical team is treating a divisive character - an ‘alt-right’ disgraced academic, an exponent of ‘racial intelligence science', an anti-Islamist, an anti-immigrant, an erudite bigot. Entitled and opinionated, entitled to his opinions, dying of cancer; and (confusingly) convinced he should be giving his final address to the world.
That’s the premise - from there it only gets weirder. Competing realities, splintering time and location: the 3rd Reich euthanasia program, a National Front march in Lewisham in 1977, a field hospital in Eritrea, the condemned cell of a nazi doctor at Nuremberg. And laughs, even. As it says on the poster:
‘Love, death, racism and hobnobs in the NHS’. It will be mad, ambitious, heart-breaking, uplifting.
Here’s a promo video of the play:
Why does it matter?
We think it matters that in these times we create conversations around multi-culturalism, no-platforming, immigration, racism, populism. We know that theatre is one of the most stimulating ways of provoking debate.
We think it matters that we get non-theatre-goers to come along. Theatre shouldn’t be another echo-chamber of interchangeable, like-minded FB friends. There should be people arguing with each other afterwards. We actually encourage this in two ways - one by doing our best to reach out to people who wouldn’t normally go to the theatre, and two, with a post-show Q&A, where everybody has a chance to share their thoughts, debrief and listen.
How your money will help:
We formed as a company in 2012, and finding funding has always been a big challenge. We always thought it would get easier as we became better known and respected for the work we have produced, but 2018 was far and away the most financially challenging yet. So this is what your money will do - it will help pay for the admin and time needed for niche marketing, general PR, and securing gigs in places where theatre doesn’t normally go. It will fund myriad expenses, set and prop-building, daily touring expenses, food, accommodation, fuel. If we make enough it might even help us take it to Edinburgh.
It will also, in its own way, make the world a better place. Although clearly we're biased.
The Drip Drip Drip journey so far:
Last Autumn we held a week-long R&D period. Here are some production shots taken by Steve Tanner, from that week:
It was an amazing experience for us, due to the generosity and courage of all the contributors in the room. We were looking at difficult things, taboos, uncomfortable situations, and it was equally hard and uplifting. For everybody. It raised our collective consciousnesses and it fired us up to create and put on this piece of work. We want it to be a success, we want people to come and see it, and we need every available penny to make that happen.
As well as the R and D we’ve made connections with an amazing group of professionals from the medical world, some local to us, some not at all, all of whom who have been generous enough to share their experiences and expertise, either in the room, or in correspondence. Again, because of this, we feel compelled to make this play happen, not least so as to honour the generosity shown to us by so many others, and to voice the issues that they, our professional partners, feel so strongly about. And if the issues mentioned above affect you too, you can go to our web-site, where there’s a page that allows contributions to be made, that we can take with us on tour, and share with groups of strangers, who might benefit from your input.
Our website can be found at: www.pipelinetheatre.com.
And here are a few stills from some of our previous shows:
'Spillikin, a love story' 2015 photo credit: Steve Tanner
'Pipeline Theatre have created something devastatingly beautiful.' The Upcoming
Swivelhead, 2016 photo credit: Steve Tanner
"Watching a Pipeline Theatre play is like watching one of the classics, trusting all the while that it is carefully building to something sublime" The Upcoming
Transports, 2013 photo credit: Steve Tanner
'This is small scale theatre at its best. It is very clear that Pipeline Theatre are a company to be reckoned with, this is work of the highest quality and should not be missed.' Theatre Bath
Streaming, 2016 photo credit: Tod Welch
'A piece of theatre of such startling depth and rawness that it is impossible to come away from it unchanged.' The Upcoming
Transports, 2016 photo credit: Steve Tanner
"quite simply this is excellent theatre, thought provoking and challenging throughout" Theatre Bath
Why help a small theatre company put on a show?
So how do we justify you donating money to a small-scale theatre company wanting to put on a play and take it on tour. Where do we start? We’re not conducting important medical research, or saving lives. And although we have recently put on a community play, which you could argue has changed lives, and is something we will do again, this project is a professional touring show. If lives are to be changed, it will most likely be on the other side of the lights, and can’t be guaranteed. It’s just a play.
Just to explain, for those who are unfamiliar with our world - we’re not commercially self-sufficient. Like most subsidised theatre, we’re niche. We don’t put on big, crowd-pleasing musicals. We’re small-scale, our plays are new writing, unknown, untested, the studio theatres we play in literally can’t accommodate enough people to generate enough box-office to recompense actors, technicians, fuel costs, accommodation, writing, marketing, set-building, costume-making, etc etc. Even if we sold out every time. So we have to go to the Arts Council, and other funders to ask for public subsidy. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to get funded, sometimes not. And unfortunately, securing funding is getting increasingly harder. But when we do get funding, your taxes and lottery funding will already have contributed to the process. And here we are, asking for more.
Well, if it was me, this is how I’d look at it (as I’ve said, I’m biased). For me, if I could, I would contribute to every single other small-scale theatre company out there, seeking to crowd-fund. I’d look on it as almost a political act. Plays happen in big rooms - with lots of people in them. The audience. 50, 100, 300, however many. A room with people in it, witnessing stories together, in which their lives are reflected. Together. Live. Where else does that happen? - Cinema? Weirdly non-communal. And clearly not live. Political rallies? Free, and for the already converted. Football matches? Exorbitant ticket-prices and unquenchable loyalty. Stand-up? One performer, one voice, few overheads. And yet a play, when it works, when it’s ‘flying’, can do everything these other forms can do and more. It can suck you in to another world, even more than a film can, so you forget there’s anyone else in the room. Conversely, it can fire a group of strangers into a state of communal political activism. It can make you care and cry and stop your heart, like the most ardent supporter watching a penalty shoot-out. It can make you laugh till you feel sick, like the best stand-up. And sometimes, when it’s flying, all this can happen in the same play, on the same night.
Now, clearly it would arrogant of me to promise you that this play will achieve all that. I can’t promise it - theatre is always involves risk; when the work goes in front of an audience, something happens that can’t be predicted. Plays have their own lives. But it’s what we strive for every time we make new work. And in fairness to us we do have form - rafts of 4 and 5 star reviews, selling out at Edinburgh with a show called Spillikin, a nomination for the Carol Tambor ‘Best of Edinburgh’ award, breaking box office records at the Drum, Plymouth Theatre Royal, remarkable audience feedback. So for us it’s always a risk worth taking. And if you wanted to come with us on our journey - well, we’d be in your debt.
After all, just how ‘together’ are we, these days? How often do we come together, as strangers, in numbers, to think and feel? And laugh and care and be provoked, inflamed, bewildered, eviscerated? How’s it all working out for us, just now, in terms of bridging communities? How are we at understanding, empathising with people who seem different from us? In beliefs, politics, skin-colour? If we all live online, when can we actually spend time face-to-face with people who aren’t in our tribe?
If any of this rings true, excites, intrigues or bothers you, then please help us make this show.