Temporary theatre opens next to rigs for new oil industry play

A shed built for the shopping industry has been turned into a temporary theatre for Crude.
A shed built for the shopping industry has been turned into a temporary theatre for Crude.
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A new play exploring Scotland’s relationship with oil has opened in the heart of a real-life industrial site.

A vast shed in the Port of Dundee is playing host to the production, which is based on interviews with dozens of off-shore workers.

The new theatre production is being staged beside three exploration rigs.

The new theatre production is being staged beside three exploration rigs.

Crude is being staged alongside three exploration rigs on the River Tay by the Edinburgh-based theatre company Grid Iron, which has previously deployed an airport, a department store, a climbing centre and a school playground for shows.

The new play explores the impact of off-shore life on the workers and their families, the global economic and environmental issues linked to the vital industry for the Scottish economy, and the effects of the downturn which has seen thousands of jobs go in the last 18 months.

An eight-strong cast is performing Crude for the next two weeks on a temporary stage designed to replicate a North Sea oil rig. Audiences are being warned in advance to wrap up to protect them against the cold in the warehouse, which is being offered to the theatre company free of charge by dock operator Forth Ports.

Writer and director Ben Harrison, who had the original idea for the show 10 years ago, said: “When I delved into the research I got really interested in the idea of off-shore life, in terms of the two-weeks-on, two-weeks-off working pattern, and how disruptive that can be to the continuity of a relationship, particularly when there are children involved.

An eight-strong cast is performing Grid Iron'a oil industry play Crude.

An eight-strong cast is performing Grid Iron'a oil industry play Crude.

“Off-shore workers have the highest divorce rate of any workforce in the UK and, of course, most of them are in Scotland. They all said remarkably the same thing – that you just can’t adjust when you go back home.

“There’s also the political dimension of oil and Scotland, and the history of where the profits went to, compared with somewhere like Norway, where the same amount of oil has come out.

“More immediate is the longest continuous downturn in the North Sea, which is putting a lot of pressure on the workforce and creating a lot of paranoia.”

Crude is at the Port of Dundee until 23 October.

Crude is based on interviews with dozens of off-shore workers.

Crude is based on interviews with dozens of off-shore workers.