Gizmo: History

Gizmo is an unusual piece by Alan Ayckbourn and is comparable to Ernie's Incredible Illucinations. Like Ernie's, Gizmo was written specifically for performance by young people and as a result is rarely performed professionally.

The play was commissioned for the National Connections '99 Festival, an annual event in which a series of plays are commissioned to be performed by schools throughout the UK. After an adjudication and regional performances, a selection of schools are invited to perform the plays at the National Theatre. The play was first announced to the public in an article published in the Sunday Telegraph in April 1999 and it had its first performance in Nottingham before being performed at to the National Theatre.

The play has proved to be popular with school and youth drama groups, offering a challenging and entertaining performance piece for young actors.

Set in the near future, it is about an amazing device which when fitted allows a body to be controlled by someone else - it is intended as a medical device for paralysed people. Naturally, the controller falls into the wrong hands and the device is used for criminal purposes - with an unwitting host in tow.

"I thought it best to set
Gizmo on neutral ground that is neither their world nor my world. I also wanted to write something which offered convincing dialogue and degree of physicality that would be fun. I don't want to be pretentious about the play but I hope there is more to it than entertainment. In general I get excited about scientific discoveries. But they can be dangerous. We have these boxes of knowledge and we are like kids on Christmas Day. We unpack the box and then lose the instructions. Genetic engineering, for example, can be a boon or danger in the wrong hands with the wrong government at the wrong time. But in Gizmo I am more interested in the interconnected lives Of people. The point I'm making is that, although we may not be connected by machines, we are all in some sense responsible for each other."

Gizmo has been published by a number of different publishers including Faber and Samuel French in the UK. It is available for production.

Article by Simon Murgatroyd. Copyright: Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.