Fringe jobs take centre stage at East End production
- Credit: Photo by Mark Douet
A thought provoking and challenging production, Beyond Caring is this week in the last few days of its run at The Yard Theatre, with a final performance on Saturday.
The performance focuses on the culture of zero-hour contracts and those on the periphery of society whose work is governed by them.
Playwright Alexander Zeldin explored the subject in the light of recent reports that jobseekers face losing their benefits for three months unless they accept these contracts.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of the contracts, which require employees to remain on standby but fail to guarantee minimum pay or hours, has reached 1.4million.
Through a mixture of investigation, first-hand experience and collaboration with the cast and crew, a powerful and haunting theatre piece has been created that places contemporary employment culture under scrutiny.
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Alexander said: “The piece originated from me reading a book by an investigative journalist, Florence Aubenas, called The Night Cleaner which tells the story of a woman going undercover, pretending to be unqualified and taking temporary jobs in a French city.
“The book touched me very much because I felt it was telling a story about a particular kind of fragility and insecurity that I could feel was present in the UK.
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“I decided to go and investigate myself, met a lot of people and I did a cleaning shift or two.”
The play revolves around four people working a night shift in a meat factory as cleaners.
Isolated strangers at first, something happens to dramatically change the tentative bonds built up between them over four-hour blocks, separated intermittently by shift breaks.
Alexander said the use of fluorescent lighting in the production was important to convey the idea of timelessness, blending shifts together.
The exposing effect of the lights also forces the audience to look at the action, confronted by a little-known reality.
He added: “I don’t think there is anything wrong with disturbing people but also you need to be caring. It’s a very warm piece, ultimately.
“Also, it’s funny; people laugh a lot. I think what’s great about something is if everybody can find something different in it.”
Performances start at 8pm at The Yard Theatre in Queen’s Yard, Tower Hackney. Tickets are £10 and can be booked at theyardtheatre.co.uk.
Read a review here