​Citizens Theatre Young Co. return to premiere new production PAL: Your AI Care Companion

  • A darkly comic near-future tale by playwright Sara Shaarawi, written with support from members of the Young Co.
  • Performed by a 13-strong ensemble, the show will premiere for a limited run of performances at Tramway from 11 – 13 May
  • The Young Co.’s 2023 production, it follows on from previous sell-out successes Adrift (2020) and Press 2 For Help (2022).

This Spring will see the Citizens Theatre Young Co. return to the stage with the world premiere of a bold new production. Set in a dystopian near-future Glasgow, PAL: Your AI Care Companion explores a future where the NHS has become a fully automated, run-for-profit enterprise dominated by the “personality” of an autonomous AI.

Invented in 2022 by young care worker Nikki, PAL started off as a simple app made to alleviate loneliness, social anxiety and depression - a care-bot if you like. Now, it’s 2044, the health service has collapsed, and PAL is everywhere. Listening, watching and growing, as a dependency on automation quickly escalates…

Set in a dystopian world where natural resources are running out, protest is criminalised, and self-surgery has become the norm, we meet characters who push back against the boundaries of this dangerous future. Perhaps a PAL isn’t what we need, but is there a way back?

Written by acclaimed playwright Sara Shaarawi, with input from members of the Citz Young Co, PAL: Your AI Care Companion is a timely and darkly funny piece of new writing. Taking inspiration from speculative fiction like Black Mirror and Tales From the Loop, it tackles themes like the runaway dangers of AI, surveillance culture, and the oppressive nature of technology when taken into the wrong hands.

The play will be performed by a 13-strong ensemble of Young Co. members, and will premiere for a limited run at Tramway in Glasgow from 11 to 13 May 2023. Sara Shaarawi previously served as a mentor and writer on the Young Co.’s most recent production Press 2 For Help. Her other recent productions have included Sister Radio (Stellar Quines/Pitlochry Festival Theatre), The Day the Stampers United (Wonderfools), and Niqabi Ninja (IAP/Hewar Theatre).

Sara Shaarawi, Writer, said: “It's been an absolute joy writing a show for the Young Co at the Citizens Theatre. I felt so inspired by the conversations and the energy each person brought to the room. As a writer I've had the immense opportunity to writing a play for a big cast as well as exploring a genre I've been curious about for a while. PAL is a dystopia play about the not-so-far future in a world where the NHS is privatised, creating more inequality and perpetuating the rise of automated care in the form of an AI called PAL. It's dark, but it's also funny and warm, and it deals with big themes about the future which I hope encourages discussion afterwards. I'm very excited to share this piece with everyone soon.”

PAL: Your AI Care Companion will build on the success of their two most recent productions, Adrift: "an emotional voyage fired by the wayward power of the imagination." (The Herald) and Press 2 For Help, a similarly thought-provoking tale performed in an abandoned office block. The play also marks the Citizens Theatre’s ongoing commitment to young people, as well as continuing to present work across the city while the building undergoes its extensive redevelopment.

ENDS-

For more information, press tickets, interviews, and images please contact:

Joseph Crerar-Blythe, The Corner Shop PR

E: joseph@thecornershoppr.com, M: 07500 258 404

For Citizens Theatre company enquiries, please contact:

Louise Dingwall, Press and Marketing Officer: louisedingwall@citz.co.uk (Mon – Wed)

Alison Lewis, Marketing Manager: alison.lewis@citz.co.uk

Production info

PAL: Your AI Care Companion

Written by Sara Shaarawi

Directed by Neil Packham (Citizens Theatre Community Drama Director)

Set and costume design by Ailsa Munro

Sound design by Rikki Traynor

Age recommendation 14+

Listings

11 – 13 May 2023, at Tramway, 25 Albert Dr, Glasgow G41 2PE

Public performances:

Friday 12 May – 7.30pm (Press performance)

Saturday 13 May – 7.30pm

Invited community performances (no public):

Thursday 11 May – 7.30pm

Friday 12 May – 2pm

Running time approx. 1hr

Tickets available at www.citz.co.uk

NOTES TO EDITORS

Sara Shaarawiis a playwright from Cairo, living in Glasgow. Her work has been performed across Scotland and the UK, as well as Egypt, Uganda, and South Africa. She has written work for the stage as well as audio drama, and has recently worked with companies such as Wonderfools and Imaginate Festival to create work with and for young people. She enjoys working in a variety of contexts and finds the diversity in writing for performance thrilling. Recent writing credits include:Niqabi Ninja (IAP/Hewar Theatre), Sister Radio (Stellar Quines/Pitlochry Festival Theatre), The Day the Stampers United (Wonderfools).

Citizens Theatre

The Citizens Theatre is Glasgow’s major producing theatre and one of the leading theatre companies in the UK. It is internationally renowned for ground-breaking theatre productions and a pioneering programme of participatory and community work. It is led by Artistic Director, Dominic Hill who is regarded as having “a talent for classical drama which is genuinely world class.” (Daily Telegraph) and Executive Director, Alex McGowan. The theatre presents bold new interpretations of classic texts alongside new writing. It is firmly rooted in its local Gorbals community at the heart of Glasgow’s cultural and creative offering, while maintaining a national and international outlook.  

The company’s Victorian home in the Gorbals is currently closed while it undergoes a major redevelopment. This is the first comprehensive, integrated redevelopment of the building since it opened in 1878. The project will transform the experiences of audiences, participants and performers and secure the future of one of Scotland’s most iconic buildings and leading producing theatres. It is due to re-open in 2024. More information: citz.co.uk

About the Citizens Theatre Young Company

Launched in 2005, the Young Co. have performed and created a broad and experimental range of work. Their first ever production was Georg Büchner’s Woyzeck. Since then, they've staged a collection of Scottish travellers’ tales, young peoples’ writing from Chicago, Shakespeare, Greek comedy, verbatim and devised theatre as well as commissioned plays from established Scottish playwrights. They have performed in venues as varied as the Royal National Theatre, Glasgow City Chambers, Kelvingrove Museum, secondary schools across Glasgow and in its home in the Citizens Theatre. Recently, the Young Co. has had a particular interest in creating work around young people's mental health and wellbeing. This includes short plays Empty and Fine, and a full-length production Adrift, written by former Young Co. member Catriona McNicoll and Press 2 for Help, an evening of new writing. Young Co. members regularly take part in specialist skills workshops led by guest theatre professionals and attend world-class productions on the Citizens’ main stage, offering them a unique insight into the world of professional theatre-making.

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