Scott Turnbull’s latest show, The Smog, will be shown as Work in Progress at ARC in November. Claire Dupree from NARC. Magazine discovers wild characters and existential musings from the Teesside playwright.
It’s clear from my conversation with Teesside playwright Scott Turnbull that he has an enquiring, and often very humorous, mind; our interview ranges from the oddball (dreams about sex with dogs, probably best not recanted here), to the inspirational (becoming obsessed with Blade Runner) and the retro (a love of overhead projectors, which he utilises in his shows).
He’s bringing his new show, The SMOG, to Northern Stage in Newcastle on Saturday 17th and Stockton’s ARC on Wednesday 28th November, and the premise at first seems fairly simple – a deadly smog descends on a Teesside town, where supernatural occurrences lead detective Charlie Smog (played by Scott himself) to investigate the mystery – but all is not quite as it seems:
“The SMOG is a set of strange stories and unusual characters that inhabit an otherworldly Teesside. There’s a private investigator, a debt collector and potentially a vampire hunter, maybe even a spaceman or two, we’ll have to wait and see.”
The two performances are billed as ‘work in progress’ productions, with the audience given a chance to see the show as it is evolving. “The finished product will have a fully formulated narrative with bells and whistles. Right now, it’s just me on stage with an overhead projector some felt tip pens and a bunch of wild characters and existential musings. It’ll be rough around the edges, and a lot of fun.” He explains.
With musicians, choreographers and “absurd dance moves” planned, the finished show will clearly be something pretty impressive to behold. “I like to test out the material in a live space with an audience to see what works and what doesn’t. I suppose it’s similar to the way a comedian works – you get a sense of what’s funny and what’s not, then you can edit the bits into something…better. A work in progress is also a great opportunity to make mistakes. We always try to get things right in life and sometimes the best way to learn is by getting things wrong. Occasionally you get it so wrong that you end up crawling around in your own shit and piss crying for help, sometimes you just make a bit of a tit of yourself, and on the odd wondrous occasion you find something unexpectedly useful.”
This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of NARC. Magazine which is available across the North-East including at ARC. You can find NARC. online here.