Twenty-nine-year-old actor turned artistic director Iwan Lewis makes his directorial debut with a fresh take on Simon Stephens’ 2003 play One Minute, as the second offering at the new Barn Theatre in Cirencester. Here, he explains why he’s so fascinated by Stephens’ fragmentary play about lives affected by the disappearance of a child and how he’s reconsidered the story for 2018. The production opened this week and continues until 16 June, with a post-show Q&A chaired tonight by MyTheatreMates co-founder Terri Paddock…
A child disappears from the streets of London. Two men and three women are drawn together as they attempt to make sense of the inexplicable. Relationships crack under pressure and communications break down in the aftermath. This play by Simon Stephens follows five characters who are all connected by the disappearance of this one girl.
I’m really fascinated by the law of six degrees of separation, an idea that we are all only six or fewer steps away from each other so that a chain of a ‘friend of a friend’ can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. Not all the characters in One Minute meet, or even know of each other, but they are all connected in some way.
“We want to give our audiences something thought-provoking, something of substance to digest.”
We are frequently left trying to work out the worlds within worlds and the thoughts in between the words. This script is more about what is not being said. These missing hollows and voids have been extremely attractive to explore. Stephens has provided me, as a director, with plenty of room to breathe and a licence to bring a fresh interpretation.
This play started life at the Crucible in Sheffield in 2003. Since then, we’ve all watched events unfold after the high-profile disappearances of girls like Alice Gross and Madeleine McCann. We have been able to apply some of what we have learned with a fresh sensitivity. In 2002, we didn’t have Facebook or Twitter. For this production, we have been able to integrate the digital world for the first time.
We want to give our audiences something thought-provoking, something of substance to digest. We are passionate about raising awareness and opening up debate around sensitive issues. We undertook a huge amount of research to get this right. We have been working with the Metropolitan Police and the charity, Missing People. 180,000 people are reported missing every year. Someone will be reported missing every 90 seconds in the UK. I was horrified to discover how many children go missing each year – one in every 200 children, in fact. We’ve all seen the media attention when a child disappears, but that quickly fades, and the families are left alone with all their unanswered questions.
Vulnerable young people are being manipulated to cross county lines to sell drugs, lured away from all their roots and connections. They commit crimes and then go missing. Such cruelty is not that far away from us here in Cirencester. We should not shy away from what can happen on our own doorsteps. We need to look out for each other, but especially for young people who are at risk.
You certainly couldn’t call this a typical crime drama that you might see in other regional theatres. This is truly thrilling writing – hard-hitting on universal themes. People are watching Luther and Broadchurch at home on TV, so why not give them something just as edgy and unpredictable on our stage? We want our productions to be relevant for people of all ages and all backgrounds. Theatre needs to be challenging and stimulating, whether it is in London or the Cotswolds.
One Minute runs from 19 May to 16 June 2018 at The Barn, 5 Beeches Road, Cirencester GL7 1BN. Performances are Mondays to Saturdays at 7.30pm, with Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm. Tickets are priced £14-£28. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!