A Thousand Shards of Glass



A Thousand Shards of Glass is a performance narrative which I wrote for Jane Packman Company in 2012.

“The rhythmn of the text alternates between rhapsodic chanting and the feeling of bullets breaking a shop window…” – TOTAL THEATRE




I’d been thinking about agency: our ability to take action to change the the world, and the frustrations of feeling like taking such action is impossible, or pointless.

I’d also noticed that I kept finding myself in social situations where everyone present was engaging more with their smartphones than they were with one another. This didn’t feel great, but, exaggerated to a preposterous(?) extent, it provided a clear conceit for the show: a world in which tangible reality had been “lost” whilst everyone’s attention was directed elsewhere, at their screens.

In the show, our protagonist, Lucy, sets out to change things, to disrupt the unreality, and to break some glass…

“[This] insurrection of words and sounds breathes life into our activist selves. This powerful work doesn’t take theatre for a commodity.” – TOTAL THEATRE

I wrote the piece in collaboration with the company, a process which was held and facilitated by Jane Packman, who also directed the performance. I’d written a draft of about half the piece before we began to work together, and wrote the rest whilst working in a room with the rest of the team. Being able to try new sections and get feedback almost immediately proved to be a fast and fruitful process. Shards is performed by the amazing Lucy Ellinson, in dialogue with a brilliant sound design by Lewis Gibson.

The show was developed at mac Birmingham. It was commissioned by and made at Theatre in the Mill, Bradford, and it’s subsquently been performed at AE Harris (Birmingham) and Northern Stage at St Stephens (Edinburgh Festival, 2012), The Albany, The Hub (Leeds) and Mayfest (Bristol).

Catherine Love of Exeunt wrote: “This may only be a story of resistance, but its rebellious sentiment is one that outlives the narrative… At a festival where epic ambition is often traded in for intimate bite, Jane Packman Company has found a gorgeously simple way to happily marry the two. The literal space occupied by the piece is bare and compact, paced by Ellinson alone. But the cavernous realm of the imagination, unrestrained by practical limitations has far greater epic sweep than even the most immense of stages.”

Blogger Lizzie Davis wrote: “Thought-provoking, open-ended and produced to an exceptionally high standard: A Thousand Shards of Glass was experimental theatre at its best.”

Watch the trailer here: https://benpacey.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/shards-trailer/