Leeds School of Arts

The Department of Distractions: Third Angel’s Dr Alex Kelly asks “What aren’t you looking at?”

Leeds Beckett academic Alex Kelly / Third Angel brings to Sheffield Theatres a conspiracy-theory detective story for the 21st century. The Department of Distractions is a play about an organisation so clandestine you won’t have heard of them. Until now.

Cast of "Department of Distraction"

The Department says its job is to plant stories in the world “to make life more interesting.” Others would argue that it’s as much about stopping us looking in certain directions: a single glove in the street, a torn up love letter in a Metro carriage, a pair of shoes hanging from a telephone wire or a phone box that rings as you walk past...

Written by Third Angel co-artistic Director Alex Kelly, the show explores the ever elusive ‘Department’ just as things are beginning to unravel for the team, as a story they started has become out of control, and they’re in danger of being exposed. Unpicking the snags in the fabric of everyday life, The Department of Distractions may leave you with more questions than answers.

Alex explains how the show explores some ongoing fascinations and obsessions of the company: “I’ve loved detective stories since I was a teenager – starting with both Raymond Chandler and Moonlighting. Several of our shows and projects have hinted at them, but this is the first time we’ve done a full-on detective story.

We’ve been developing The Department of Distractions since 2014. In that time it has been fascinating, compelling and depressing to see some of the ideas it explores become more pressing.”

Alex is joined on the creative team by Third Angel Co-Artistic Director Rachael Walton, Stage Designer Bethany Wells, Music and Sound Designer Heather Fenoughty, Lighting Designer Katharine Williams and Dramaturg Stacey Sampson.

The cast are: Rachael Walton, Stacey Sampson (This is England, Channel 4 and Partus, Third Angel), Nicholas Chambers (The Great Gatsby, Wilton's Music Hall, The Life & Loves of a Nobody, Third Angel) and Umar Butt (My Name Is, Tamasha Theatre Company, The Journeys, Third Angel).

Created with the lightness of touch, dark humour and ferocity for detail that Third Angel has become renowned for, The Department of Distractions plays from Friday 25 January to Saturday 2 February in Sheffield Theatre’s Crucible Studio.

“Engaging with the big issues about how we live with a fierce intelligence”
The Guardian on Third Angel

Dr Alexander Kelly

Reader / Leeds School Of Arts

Alex is Reader in Theatre & Performance and has been with Performing Arts at Leeds Beckett since the start of its first course in 2006. He is Co-Artistic Director of the Sheffield-based theatre company Third Angel, with whom he devises, directs, writes, designs and performs. Third Angel’s work tours throughout Britain, mainland Europe and beyond.

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