Looking glass lorry breaks theatre’s fourth wall

The audience peers through the one-way mirror. Picture: Andre Wunstorf
The audience peers through the one-way mirror. Picture: Andre Wunstorf
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They have staged plays in an airport terminal, on a ferry and in the Glasgow Subway – and are now about to take audiences on a lorry round Paisley.

National Theatre of Scotland is hosting a German production that will see theatre-goers make a two-hour urban safari of the Renfrewshire town in a glass-sided truck. The vehicle has been converted into a 40-seat auditorium for the Do’s & Don’ts show, in which local children and teenagers discuss rules and rule-breaking.

How the lorry-cum-theatre appears to passers-by. Picture: Andre Wunstorf

How the lorry-cum-theatre appears to passers-by. Picture: Andre Wunstorf

Originally staged in Berlin, theatre group Rimini Protokoll has adapted the play for Paisley, with a script co-written with the local youngsters taking part.

Audiences will view a live conversation between a youngster from the age of eight to 14 and the lorry driver in the cab, which is projected on to screens over a window that covers the whole of one side of the 7.5-tonne vehicle.

The child will then be dropped off and the screens raised so they can address the audience from outside the lorry using a microphone.

In the second part of the play, the process will be repeated with an older teenager.

Production manager Nick Millar said: “The play takes place on a converted truck which has raked seating inside and a one-way mirrored glass side. The audience can see out but the people outside cannot see in.

“The premise is that we all live under a certain amount of rules and regulations, and have opinions about whether we need to live our lives under them. The actors talk about what they think are essential and not essential rules. There is a marked difference between the younger person’s perception and the teenager’s.”

The lorry driver, Fergus, is challenged by the teenager to break the rules over his driving.

The route will not be publicised in advance to maximise surprise. Millar said the production – from 12-21 October – also featured a choir of Paisley singers who act as a “Greek chorus”.

Paisley, backed by Renfrewshire Council, was keen to take part after losing its bid to become UK City of Culture 2021.

Louisa Mahon, the council’s head of events, said: “This is a unique event created by young people that will let visitors experience Paisley and Renfrewshire in a new and radical way.”

Do’s & Don’ts is among productions in NTS’s Scotland-wide Futureproof festival, part of the Year of Young People, which runs from Friday until 28 October.

NTS productions have been staged in transport settings before, including Roam at Edinburgh Airport, and Falling on the Glasgow Subway. Last year Submarine Time Machine played on a converted barge on the Forth & Clyde Canal.