Singular vision of where time travel could take you at this new Sheffield theatre show
Tim Etchell’s latest piece, written for Forced Entertainment and touring to the Crucible Studio next month, is something of a departure.
Rather than an ensemble production, To Move In Time is a monologue performed by a single actor Tyrone Huggins who is not a full-time member of the Sheffield collective.Not that the artistic director has forsaken the usual format for Etchells is speaking from Brussels where he is working with the full company on a performance of Out of Order which will also be seen at the Pompidou Centre in Paris next weekend.By which time To Move In Time will have opened in Cardiff before continuing on to Sheffield, Birmingham, Exeter and Bristol.Tyrone Huggins is an unnamed protagonist speculating playfully about what he’d do if he were able to travel backwards and forwards in time. From fantasies of changing the present, to obsessions with everyday events in the past, to dreaming up ways to get rich from knowledge of the future, the text works as a stream of consciousnessIt walks a line between comic absurdity and melancholia.“I have been developing over the years a few monologues and solo projects with different performers as a way of making contact with different people and trying something which is outside the format of larger groups that we tend to do,” he explains“And Tyrone is someone we have known for many years because he was in impact Theatre in the early Eighties an experimental collective which was very influential on Forced Entertainment. We have always had a conversation and I thought it would be interestimg to invite him to work on this theme.”The process was one of collaboration . “He would come and read a bit and then we would talk and I would do a bit more writing,” Etchells continues. “ I was always writing with a sense of him as a performer and his voice and the conversation we were having.”Sheffield audiences most recently saw him in the first tour of Black Men Walking. “I was very aware that Tyrone is a person of colour and also his age, all of these things, but one of the things I liked about the monologue that I had written was that if you were to typecast the person you would think geeky white teenager. “So that he is an unlikely person to be saying all this but then you think why would you assume it belongs to a geeky teenager. It challenges one’s stereotypical assumptions about who is thinking what. It can be thoughts of that old guy on the bus.“It is a monologue whose subject is time travel and one of the things that is deep in that is what could you change or how could you intervene in the world if you had this extraordinary power,” he continues. “I do think that it coming from Tyrone, an older person of colour, gives it an added dimension, in one sense a position of powerlessness and the need to change things. That sits on Tyrone and he owns it in a different way than another actor might.”Last year Tim Etchells’ Endland was published by Sheffield-based And Other Stories. It comprises a now out of print publication, Endland Stories: Or Bad Lives, from 1999, plus additional pieces written over the years on the same theme .He says: “I guess the writing of Endland is a long-term project of mine and a bit of an obsession, trying to write in this way about England and the UK since the mid-Nineties.“It’s something which has been a bit of a life project for me looking at the UK through this lens which is kind of weird distorted alter ego of the country, Endland.“It’s written in a language was has quite a colloquial slang feeling in one sense. It’s also peppered with abbreviations from SMS and the Internet. It’s a language which in one sense is quite dysfunctional – a spellchecker’s nightmare – but it also has this extraordinary vitality and poetry almost as much as crude and wrong that it is.”To Move in Time is at the Crucible Studio on February 7-8. Endland (And Other Stories, £11.99) is out now.