Harrogate Theatre: New play explores our relationship with technology

The award-winning theatre company 1927 s latest production Golem is at Harrogate Theatre this week.
The award-winning theatre company 1927 s latest production Golem is at Harrogate Theatre this week.
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The award-winning theatre company 1927 ’s latest production Golem is at Harrogate Theatre this week.

The Young Vic in London, the capital’s West End, a tour of Europe and Asia and, somehow, Harrogate.

That’s not to cast aspersions on the genteel spa town, the enclave of Yorkshire twinned with Shoreditch, but in a town more 
famous for haircuts and bars 
in which those haircuts show 
themselves off, how is it on a 
list including the Young Vic and London?

“It is absolutely the right thing to bring the show back to Harrogate, that’s where it all began,” says Suzanne Andrade.

She is the women behind Golem, a new show from Andrade’s theatre company 1927, which after its successful international tour is currently performing some exclusive dates in the North of England including four nights in Harrogate this week .

Golem, a fascinating piece of work that has been seen in China, Switzerland, Madrid, Australia and New York was seen first of all in Harrogate.

That was back in July 2014 and the show was still in development. Andrade was looking for a theatre that would be welcome and would be a safe and supportive space to develop her show.

She had met Kevin Jamieson, previously a programmer at Harrogate Theatre now a senior producer at Home theatre in Manchester, at the Edinburgh Festival.

“He said that he thought our work was interesting and invited me to bring something to develop. He was so passionate and energetic about our project and he seemed really open and giving, it felt 
like the right thing to do,” says 
Andrade.

She did and Golem was born.

In July three years ago audiences were treated to a work best described at the time as embryonic.

“It was crazy, we had points where I stood on stage and just said ‘and then I think something like this will happen next’, but we really were in a very early stage of development back then,” says the writer, director producer and sometimes performer Andrade.

The reason for the real roughness of the work in progress will become clear in a moment, but for now, the show.

Golem is the fourth show from theatre company 1927, following on from their hit international shows The Animals and Children took to the Streets and The Magic Flute (created in collaboration with Komische Opera Berlin).

A co-production with Salzburg Festival, Théâtre de la Ville Paris and Young Vic Theatre London, Golem is loosely based on the fable of the golem, an anthropomorphic figure made of clay and animated by a master. Appearing first in Jewish texts, the golem has a long mythic history.

In 1927’s show, the fable is reimagined as a contemporary dystopian tale which asks the question: who is in control – human or technology, man or machine? In the show an ordinary man’s life is disrupted irrevocably when he buys a golem.

“You look at the way we use technology and you realise this really is a very powerful and pertinent story for our time,” says Andrade.

“It feels like it’s one of the big questions we face, our use of technology and how it defines us and what it means for us as humans.

“The play attempts to ask the question of what happens when we maybe are not as in control of our technology as we think we are.”

There is an irony in all of this. The reason that a 1927 work in progress show is so rough is because the company relies on – 
and it has to be said, blends 
beautifully – technology with 
theatre. It means that animation and music and soundscapes 
are all as important as the 
elements that make it a live 
theatre show.

“It is quite a specific way of working,” says Andrade.

“Actors have freedom on the stage, but at the same time their movements and actions have to be very particular and specific to sit alongside the other elements of the show.”

All of which means, if you 
were lucky enough to be in Harrogate to see them the first time around in July 2014, you can return for the finished show – and if you weren’t this is a chance to see world class theatre born in Harrogate, as it returns to Harrogate.

Golem is at Harrogate Theatre until June 24. For tickets contact the box office on 01423 502116 or visit www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk

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