City route to life in theatre

Blink, Crucible Studio
Blink, Crucible Studio
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A London-based theatre company that is bringing a hit play to Sheffield next week has its roots in the city.

Paul Jellis of theatre company nabokov, who is the producer of Blink at the Crucible Studio, is a graduate of the University of Sheffield and was a member of the university’s student drama company, SuTCo.

He said: “nabokov came out of Sheffield. Our first-ever production, Kitchen, was here at the Crucible in 2001.

“That was a really big success and on the back of that the show went to the old Red Lion in London as part of three short plays and also went to the Edinburgh Festival. So that’s how the company was born.”

Paul, who was studying English language and linguistics, appeared in one of the plays.

He said: “I was in my final year as a student in Sheffield and missed the last semester to go to London with the play and did my coursework from there.”

Paul added: “A huge number of people who work in the theatre were studying in Sheffield at about the same time as me.”

They include James Grieve and George Perrin from Paines Plough. James is directing Translations in the Crucible as part of the Brian Friel season (see below).

Paul said: “It has always been an ambition of his to come and direct a show at the Crucible main house after watching plays there as a student.”

Others include Lucy Prebble, who wrote the hit play Enron, DC Moore, who has had shows at the Royal Court Theatre in London and who wrote Straight, which was at the Studio last year, and Alan Lane of Slung Low theatre company, actors Dan Bird and Simon Darwin and freelance ex-RSC director Justin Audibert.

An impressive line-up, especially as the university has no drama courses, points out Paul.

“It’s something that’s a pipe dream to say ‘I’ll go and work in the theatre’. As soon as people started doing it, we all thought ‘maybe I could do it as well’.”

Blink comes to the Studio after hit runs at the Soho Theatre in London and Edinburgh and has been to India and New York.

Paul said: “It’s about two people who are lonely in different ways and for different reasons. They end up being thrown by together by a strange occurrence.

“Above anything else, it’s two very unusual people sharing their story. It’s a reflection on how people can feel atomised in a big city like London and how technology often exacerbates that rather than solves it.”

Blink is at the Studio from Tuesday to Saturday. Box office: 0114 249 6000 or