Interview: They Built It. No One Came.

“Neither of us were very charismatic… that was a problem.”

Inspired by a true story published in the New York Times in 2015, They Built It. No One Came details the story of two men who come together to form a commune based on a shared vision of peace and harmony. However, eight years later they are still waiting for their first member.

Navya Hebbar spoke to writer Callum Cameron, who also takes on the role of Pablo in the play, about what to expect from the performance heading to Sheffield this week.

How did the Fledgling Theatre co. come about?
We formed in 2014 after training as actors together at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

Could you tell us a little more about They Built It. No One Came? What would you like your audience to take away from it?
It focuses on the story of two men who set up a commune in the hope of building their own vision of utopia. Unfortunately for them, no one ever joins. The production is about their staggering perseverance. It is absurd, it is surreal and it is a tragicomedy.

Other than the obvious themes of community and self-isolation, what other questions does the play pose?
Well, it is also quite dark – it looks at loneliness and bullying and how we always find someone to empathise. It touches on a variety of human experiences. Hopefully, people will come away from the show and question some of their own perceptions of what they see as success and failure.

You had your debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year. How has the journey been since?
Better than we expected, actually. We did Greenwich after that and then the New Diorama. We’ll do Sheffield and then head up to the Swallow Theatre, in the countryside three miles from Whithorn in Dumfries and Galloway. It is quite a fitting way to wrap up really, being out in isolation of the countryside.

Considering the fact that there are no more than four characters in the play, could you tell us more about the set production and the idea behind its design?
It’s a very minimal set, really. The whole play is meant to be set in the middle of nowhere with no particular time or place and the production reflects that. It brings your attention to how the characters spend their whole lives working on something that never blossomed into anything and how they still went on with it. These two men realise that they don’t quite have the skills to make the commune work, but go on with it nevertheless.

This was the first play that you’ve written and acted in. How was the process? How different is it from the other ones you’ve done?
This is my debut play, yes, although as a company we have put on three since we formed. I think the hard bit for me was to make it interesting and relevant.

If you had to give a piece of advice to former self as you were starting out, what would it be?
I’ve always done drama and theatre, for as long as I could remember but if I were to say something to someone who is just starting out, I’d say – start making your own work, you really have control there. And start working with as many new people as possible and try to form strong relationships with them.

They Built It. No One Came. shows at The Crucible on Tuesday, May 23. Get tickets and more info here


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