Crude: an exploration of oil
Written and directed by Ben Harrison
8th – 23rd October 2016
Shed 36 in the Port of Dundee
A large-scale, site-responsive theatre production investigating the oil industry.
Performed in a huge former oil-rig manufacturing shed in the Port of Dundee.
Focusing on the lives of offshore workers and the choices they make to work on the industrial islands of the North Sea, Crude travels to the Niger Delta and the Arctic Circle to look at the global impact of oil production and its human and ecological cost.
Written and directed by Ben Harrison, the play traces not only the history of oil but also our addicted reliance on the by-products of the black gold: our cars, our aeroplanes, our plastics that surround and almost literally wrap anything we do.
Bringing together a cracking cast of seven, Crude’s actors include Grid Iron first timers: Band of Brothers and Silent Witness’ Phil McKee, Neil John Gibson, Sarah Bebe Holmes, Brad Morrison (who had worked in the oil industry before launching his acting career), Tunji Lucas (Aaron in Dundee Rep’s Titus Andronicus) as well as returning stars of previous Grid Iron productions: Itxaso Moreno (Once Upon a Dragon, Roam and Fermentation), Kirsty Stuart (Spring Awakening). Pippa Murphy joins the Crude’s creatives as the music composer, Paul Claydon as Lighting Designer with Becky Minto as set and costume designer. Lewis den Hertog follows last year’s success of Fringe First-winning Light Boxes and comes back as the video designer for Crude.
Ben Harrison, writer and director of Crude said: “’At the time of the longest continuous downturn in the history of oil production in the North Sea, it is an appropriate moment to consider Scotland and the world’s connection with and reliance on hydrocarbons. The presence of oil has been both a blessing and a curse since its discovery in the 19th century, and for Scotland it throws up huge and important issues about natural resource control and who benefits from the production of oil and gas in the North Sea. Crude centres on the lives of offshore workers and their families and the huge pressure the two weeks on two weeks off work pattern puts on family life. The deeper I have gone into the research, the more I have discovered how profoundly modern life is entwined with the story of oil- not just the stuff we put in our cars and aeroplanes, but also our plastics, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, clothing, food…there is very little that surrounds us and makes us comfortable that is not connected with petrochemicals. For offshore workers, there are financially attractive opportunities globally, which become more attractive the longer the downturn lasts, but these opportunities can happen in some of the most dangerous places on earth, both environmentally and politically. The show, whilst rooted in the North Sea, travels to these places also and asks moral and political questions about resource control, risk and reward, and leaving it in the ground versus continuing with our complex, oil-addicted lifestyles.”
The atmospheric Shed 36 in the Port of Dundee serves as the epitome of a set for Crude. In the past, it has homed Caledon Shipbuilding and Engineering Company which, trading for over a century between 1874 and 1981, had built over 500 ships. Oil tycoons such as Kestrel Marine or Davy Offshore have employed the Shed for ship and rig production over the years but the vagaries of the industry saw them going into liquidation. Since then, for a couple of years the space was used as a grain store until Rigmar moved in and yet again the Shed served as a home to oil industry.
What The Press Said:
A masterful exploration of the destructive power of oil… with its colossal machinery, towering roof and, most importantly, three gigantic oil exploration rigs twinkling like weird waterbound UFOs in the dock outside, Crude has one of their strongest connections between theme and place yet.... a breathtaking piece of theatre, at once alluring and appalling, raising uncomfortable truths but addressing them with intelligence, sophistication and compassion – and with a swaggering sense of self-confidence that’s a brilliant match for its subject matter.The Arts Desk
Grid Iron’s subject is huge, and the scale of Crude’s ambition reflects that … when the play draws to a close, that audience doesn’t stop clapping a charismatic cast among whom Phil McKee and Kirsty Stuart particularly excel. Harrison’s direction, Becky Minto’s set & costume design, and the music, sound and video design of Pippa Murphy and Lewis den Hertog provide a setting that let’s them all shine. And as the buses drive us back to the city centre past rigs floating like space stations somewhere between an inky sky and crude-black water, there’s a murmur among the riders that suggests we’ve seen theatre that is not just accomplished, but important.The Edinburgh Reporter *****
Cast & Creative Team:
Mike: Phil McKee
Texas Jim: Neil John Gibson
Joel: Tunji Lucas
Kerry/Angela: Kirsty Stuart
John: Brad Morrison
Camila: Itxaso Moreno
Oil Mermaid/Russian Official: Sarah Bebe Holmes
Cathy (on video): Orla Bayne
Writer/Director: Ben Harrison
Producer: Judith Doherty
Assistant Director: Tom Birch
Set & Costume Design: Becky Minto
Music & Sound Design: Pippa Murphy
Lighting Design: Paul Claydon
Video Design: Lewis den Hertog
Aerial Choreography: Sarah Bebe Holmes
Production Manager: Fiona Fraser
Technical Manager: David Graham
Company Stage Manager: Mickey Graham
Stage Management: Kara Jackson
Stage Management: Anne Page
Sound Engineer: Maura ‘Fuzz’ Guthrie
Video Technician: Andy Reid
Aerial Performance Consultant & Rigger: Imogen Michel
Wardrobe Assistant: Carys Hobbs
Production LX: Kate Hall
Production LX: Sanne Noppen
Finance & Development Manager: Deborah Crewe
Front of House: Rob McDonald
Set Build: Kris Smart & Lenny Shittet
Print Design: Emma Quinn
PR & Marketing: The Corner Shop PR
Print Photography: Chris Close
Production Photography: Eoin Carey
Development workshops: Gail Watson, Itxaso Moreno, Stephen McCole, Stuart Porter, Becky Minto, Mickey Graham, Brad Morrison, Helen McKay, Phil McKee, Tunji Kasim & Kara Jackson
The shows are listed in chronological order with the most recent first.