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FRAGMENTS Comes to The Playground Theatre and The Old Fire Station


Using papyrus, shadow puppetry and offstage action to shed light on the way we fill in the gaps in how we see the world, Fragments searches for an ancient lost play, of which only fragments survive. Potential Difference have collaborated with papyrologists and neuroscientists to draw parallels between how we understand the ancient past from fragments of papyrus, and our own past from fragments of memory. Just half a scene and a handful of broken lines are all that survive of a revenge tragedy by Euripides. By diving into the blank spaces, Fragments creates an irreverent take on a lost myth, and highlights the fractured nature of memory.

Fragments is inspired by the vast collections of ancient papyri held in museums around the world. The show follows three present-day 'papyrologists' attempting to decipher and paste together a handful of unstudied fragments like a jigsaw puzzle. Inspired by the hints of story these scraps suggest, they are compelled into the drama as their office swirls with song, puppetry and mayhem. As the gaps in the lost myth are filled with the scholars' perceptions and assumptions, the play considers how we construct our own memories, stories and worldviews, while also suggesting that gaps in a story are necessary to make space for us to innovate and to create new stories.

Director and co-writer Russell Bender said: "The idea behind Fragments came out of a workshop with academics and theatre makers exploring how fragments of lost plays could be performed. When we first began thinking about putting these fragments on stage, we knew we weren't interested in just trying to reconstruct an ancient play. Developing the show has been a big but incredibly fun dramatic challenge of what to do when the text stops, and all we're left with is a gap."

Co-writer Laura Swift (The Open University) said: "As a Classics scholar, collaborating with A Contemporary Theatre company has made me think about these texts in a new way. Working with a text that hasn't been staged for thousands of years was exciting, but we were also drawn to the fragmented form of what survives. We wanted to make something that celebrated the fact that we have only fragments and treated it as a virtue rather than an inconvenience."

Potential Difference will be curating a number of events around the production, including 'Fragments: A Journey through Papyri' at the British Library on March 17th and 'Papyrus Fragments - Lost Stories from Ancient Greece' on April 2nd at the Hellenic Centre, featuring collaborators and members of the creative team.

Potential Difference is led by Artistic Director Russell Bender. Formed in 2013, Potential Difference is a London-based theatre company that commissions and produces new work inspired by science, philosophy, and technology. Potential Difference seeks out extraordinary writers, designers and theatre-makers, and brings them together with academics and subject specialists to inspire and inform each other's practice, and to stimulate new ways of telling stories through live performance. Around each production, the company curates talks, articles and workshops. Past shows include Game of Life by Rose Lewenstein (The Yard) and Darknet by Rose Lewenstein (Southwark Playhouse). For Fragments, Potential Difference are working with puppeteer Jess Mabel Jones (The Flop, Backstage in Biscuit Land).

The Playground Theatre is an off-West End theatre dedicated to nurturing new talent and staging an international programme of shows. Led by co-Artistic Directors Peter Tate and Anthony Biggs, the unique space is a former bus depot located on Latimer Road. Its name is intended as an invitation to theatre makers and performers to come and "play", and to encourage bold experimentation with new works for the stage. Since it opened, The Playground Theatre has cultivated relationships with international companies and practitioners. To date, this has seen the venue work with leading creatives from Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Japan and beyond.

30 April to 16 May
The Playground Theatre, 8 Latimer Industrial Estate, Latimer Rd, London W10 6RQ
Mon - Sat, 7.30pm, Sat matinee 2.30pm
£22 - £15 | | 020 89600110

22 to 23 May
The Old Fire Station, 40 George Street, Oxford, OX1 2AQ
Fri - Sat, 7.30pm, Sat matinee 2.30pm
£16 - £12 | | 01865 263 990

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