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Trolleys

Haworth Hodgkinson

 

Trolleys received its first performance in a collaborative production by Open Door Theatre Company and Ormiston Junior Theatre at Dundee Arts Centre in 1997. It was performed twice on two successive nights, and is fondly remembered by those who were there, but has never been performed since. This may be in part because of the somewhat extravagant practical requirements of the piece.

The casting is largely flexible — in the Dundee production there were 15 actors playing 35 roles — and the piece also requires 30 supermarket trolleys.

To begin with all the trolleys are onstage and all the actors offstage. The play has no spoken text, and consists almost entirely of entrances and exits of characters with and without trolleys and carrier bags of shopping. These entrances and exits take place both through the stage door and through the auditorium.

What the audience doesn't see is the offstage team of stage managers frantically making sure all the actors, trolleys and carrier bags are in the right place at the right time, whilst the actors execute frequent high-speed costume changes. At the Dundee performance there were cue lists, timed to the second, posted around the corridors of the Arts Centre.

Additional challenges to any theatre company taking on this piece include the task of transporting 30 supermarket trolleys between supermarket and performance venue, even if you find a supermarket willing to lend them in the first place, and the fact that most of the actors have to develop their own characters. The script gives exactly the same instructions to all but two of the characters, and the success of the piece lies in the actors finding imaginatively different ways of interpreting them. It works best with a mixed cast of child and adult actors.

The piece last a mere 15 minutes.

Mysteriously, the script of Trolleys has been lost, but Haworth Hodgkinson would be willing to attempt to reconstruct it for any company willing to rise to the challenge.

 


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