Chicken Dust

by Ben Weatherill

Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10 ,15, 16, 17 March 2015

“Oh this ain’t a farm. This is a loading dock. No such things as farms anymore, not around here.”

The World Premiere

Winner of the Curve Leicester’s Playwriting Competition and recently seen as a staged reading at the Finborough Theatre’s annual Vibrant – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights, the world premiere and full length debut of a new playwright.

A chicken farm in rural England. New boy Tim has just arrived for his first shift. The job is pretty simple: grab chickens seven at a time by their legs and ram them into cages for shipping. All of this in the dark, stomping around in ankle deep chicken shit, muck and mud. His teammates are old-timers, with cigarettes dangling from their lips and pantyhose up their arms to protect their skin. Feathers cling to clothes. This band of survivors don’t want much: just to stay in the countryside, catch the chickens, and earn the best living they can.

But the chickens are dying, rotting from the inside out like hot fruit just hours after they arrive. As disease spreads and pressure mounts, enter Oscar, the meticulous poultry inspector…

A hard hitting exploration of the human cost of our enormous appetite for cheap meat.

Chicken Dust won the Curve Leicester Playwriting Competition, whose judges included Finborough Theatre Artistic Director Neil McPherson, and was also supported by IdeasTap, Writing East Midlands and BBC WritersRoom. The play has been developed through Curve’s annual Inside Out programme and festival, created and curated by Associate Director Suba Das, and dedicated to nurturing the very best talent from the region. The play was further developed by the Finborough Theatre in a staged reading at Vibrant 2014 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights.

About Playwright Ben Weatherill

Playwright Ben Weatherill trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, and was part of the Royal Court Theatre’s Young Writer's Programme and Invitation Only Group. Ben is currently the Literary Manager at the Old Red Lion Theatre, as well as Playwright-in-Residence at Curve Leicester. Chicken Dust is Ben’s professional debut. His play Tastes like Chicken was longlisted for the Bruntwood Prize 2013 and his short play The Next Five Years was seen at Theatre503. His first television pilot, Scorned, reached the final stage of BBC WritersRoom Script Room 7 competition. Subsequently, Ben was invited to join the Skylight group at this year’s BBC Writer’s Festival.

About Director Chelsea Walker

Director Chelsea Walker trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama with an MA in Advanced Theatre Practice and at Oxford University. Direction includes Lean (Tristan Bates Theatre), Bespoke (Southwark Playhouse), Ocean of Loneliness (Lost Theatre), Citizens (Theatre503), Occupied (Bad Host at the Bush Theatre). Assistant Direction includes assisting Simon Godwin on Routes (Royal Court Theatre), The Little Mermaid (Bristol Old Vic) and Candida (Theatre Royal Bath) and Amelia Sears on Brimstone and Treacle (Arcola Theatre). Chelsea Walker is currently a reader for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and Hampstead Theatre.

The Press on Director Chelsea Walker's Production of Lean at the Tristan Bates Theatre

“Lean manages to be both informative and sensitive, as well as gradually unravelling an unexpected twist.... exemplary acting, set design, lighting and sound” The Stage

“This production is an excellent platform for making people aware of this disease and with such incredible performances by both actors coupled with clever lighting, sound and staging, it deserves a bigger audience and a bigger stage.” WhatsOnStage on Lean

“Director Chelsea Walker brings Lynn's work to the stage with an impact that one cannot deny” newcurrent

The Press on Chicken Dust

★★★★★Five Stars, Remote Goat

“This is the kind of play that will make you reconsider what you have for dinner in more ways than one.” Natasha Tripney, The Stage

“The play, for the most part at least, avoids the trap of didacticism.” Natasha Tripney, The Stage

“Engaging, genuinely thought-provoking play about the chicken industry.” Natasha Tripney, The Stage

“Ben Weatherill’s powerful new play is both exposé and character drama, uncovering the brutality that feeds our appetite for cheap meat.” Robbie Lumsden, Bargain Theatre Land

“The play is equally tuned in to the tenderness and camaraderie that exists between the workers.” Robbie Lumsden, Bargain Theatre Land

“A grim peek into an industry that affects us all.” Rebecca Latham, A Younger Theatre

“A powerful play that acknowledges the brutality of the industry whilst remaining entirely sympathetic to the manual labour workers who are trying to keep up with the demanding for more produce at cheaper prices.” Rebecca Latham, A Younger Theatre

“A powerful, informative and moving play, whilst steering clear of preachy tactics.” Rebecca Latham, A Younger Theatre

“Some truly brilliant and memorable.” Aline Waites, Remote Goat

“A wonderful play that resounds long afterwards.” Aline Waites, Remote Goat

“Ben Weatherill’s engaging, well-researched exploration of conditions on a modern chicken farm.” Natasha Tripney, The Stage

“A strong piece of writing from an unusual new voice.” Robbie Lumsden, Bargain Theatre Land

“Weatherill displays a fine grained view of character and real sensitivity to the detail of human interaction.” Robbie Lumsden, Bargain Theatre Land

“Weatherill spins his tale with empathy for the workers, whose voices are often absent from more familiar discourse surrounding factory farming, which usually vilifies all involved and pleads with consumers to check labels and buy organic.” Rebecca Latham, A Younger Theatre

“Weatherill paints a bleak picture of life on the farm, but celebrates the sense of camaraderie between the workers.” Rebecca Latham, A Younger Theatre

“There are some really solid performances from the cast, particularly Paul Easom as the boss fighting and losing an ongoing battle with debt.” Natasha Tripney, The Stage

“Chelsea Walker’s production does brilliantly is to show this, not as a vast impersonal machine, but on a human scale from the point of view of the workers who move the chickens from their cages to be shipped.” Robbie Lumsden, Bargain Theatre Land

“An impressive debut.” Robbie Lumsden, Bargain Theatre Land

Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10 ,15, 16, 17 March 2015

Tickets and Times

Monday 7:30pm
Tuesday 2:00pm
Sunday 7:30pm

Approximately 90 minutes with no interval