Odd Shaped Balls is a show that tackles homophobia in sport. Broadway Baby talks to Ellie Claughton to learn more.
Odd Shaped Balls began for writer, Richard Sheridan, almost four years ago, inspired by an incident he witnessed whilst playing for the university rugby team. An openly gay fresher signed up and he trained with the team, went on socials and anyone would have thought he was one of the team. But a few months in, his captain and the club president cornered him on a night out and told him not to bother coming back.
Tell us about Odd Shaped Balls
Odd Shaped Balls is a funny and poignant one-man show, which tackles issues of homophobia & sexuality in sport and the pressures of intrusive media attention. Odd Shaped Balls doesn’t just confront these issues, it stands up and lays bare every nuance of locker-room culture. It’s a culture that today is painfully present in our society and one that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in a hurry. We have a responsibility to engage and challenge our audiences, to ask and explore questions that people shy away from. Odd Shaped Balls gives us the opportunity to challenge an aspect of our culture that is fundamentally wrong. Odd Shaped Balls embodies what, as a company, Plane Paper Theatre want to achieve.
Why did you decide to take your show to Space UK this year?
Last year our Company Manager, Ellie, spent a month working at Space UK where she learnt about the magic of the Fringe and the inner workings of the festival. Space UK welcomed her into the family and so she knew she would return the following year in one way or another. So when we decided to take Odd Shaped Balls to the Fringe it seemed like a natural choice. The Space UK is a venue that we know & trust, and we are excited to share our first experience of Fringe, as a company, with them!
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s festival?
Experiencing the Fringe as a company! We have only ever been to Fringe on an individual basis; participating in shows, working at venues or just visiting as an audience so it will be exciting to see what the Fringe has to offer an emerging company. The opportunities to network, learn and engross yourself are endless so we will be making the most of Edinburgh whilst we are there! Edinburgh Fringe is fantastic for inspiration, so we will be attending as many shows as possible and looking for something to spur our next project!
How did you create your show?
Odd Shaped Balls began for writer, Richard Sheridan, almost four years ago, inspired by an incident he witnessed whilst playing for the university rugby team. An openly gay fresher signed up and he trained with the team, went on socials and anyone would have thought he was one of the team. But a few months in, his captain and the club president cornered him on a night out and told him not to bother coming back. The captain was quickly removed from his position and they moved on as a team, but nothing was done to reach out to their new teammate and he never came back. It wasn’t until Richard met up with him a couple of months later that he learnt how much it had affected him. He felt unwelcome, not just in a team, but in a sport and in a culture. A sport and a culture that Richard loved because of how accepted it had always made him feel.After some research in to the likes of Welsh rugby hero of Union and League, Gareth Thomas, a screenplay titled Odd Shaped Balls was penned!
Can you tell us a bit about your company’s background?
Plane Paper Theatre was founded in 2014 and consists of three core members: a Production Designer, a Director and a Producer. We are dedicated to creating a platform for emerging theatre makers to develop and produce original work that explores interesting questions and themes. Plane Paper Theatre provides public space for marginalized voices to be heard and each project we do abides by these aims and objective; to create innovative and original theatre that explores interesting and relevant questions and themes and to support and work with emerging theatre makers to create a platform for their work to be seen.
If your show does well in Edinburgh, what do you want to do with it next?
Edinburgh Fringe is a chance to launch Odd Shaped Balls and gain feedback from industry professionals & critics but we have that the production will have a life beyond the festival. This will take the form of a nationwide tour that will include post-show discussions, workshops and sports club performances.
Production Company: Plane Paper Theatre
Venue: Space Triplex, Space UK
Dates: 17th – 29th August
Twitter Handle: @planeptheatre