The Paper Man

A Norfolk & Norwich Festival, La Strada Graz  and Soho Theatre co-commission.  Co-produced with Norwich & Norfolk Festival.


Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol – 24 – 27 Jan 2019
Soho Theatre, London – 12 Feb – 9 Mar 2019 | Tickets

BSL interpreted performance: Wed 6 Mar
Captioned performance: Fri 8 Mar

We will be presenting each performance in a relaxed environment, aiming to create a space for everyone, especially people who would benefit from a more informal experience. Some of the things that will be in place include:

– A relaxed attitude to noise in the auditorium; you are welcome to respond to the show in whatever way feels natural

– You can enter and exit the auditorium when needed

Content Warning: The Paper Man contains contains references to physical violence and self harm. It also includes references to Nazism, racism and the Holocaust. The production features loud sounds and strobe lighting.

Show created and performed by:

Vera Chok
Jess Mabel Jones
Keziah Joseph
Lee Simpson
Adrienne Quartly
Direction – Tanuja Amarasuriya
Set Design – Sophia Clist
Lighting Design – Colin Grenfell
Sound Design – Adrienne Quartly
Shadow Direction – Jess Mabel Jones
Movement Direction – Grace Willis
Performer and Creator in the Original Production – Anna-Maria Nabirye (some text written by Anna-Maria Nabirye for the Original Production remains in the show)
Original Associate Director – Stephen Harper
Original Shadow Director – Steve Tiplady

An irreverent and daring new show about the stories we tell and who gets to tell them.

In 1938, Matthias Sindelar captains the Austrian football team to victory over East Germany, in stark defiance of a Nazi order that the game should be drawn. A few months later, Sindelar and his girlfriend are found dead in their apartment.

In 2018, middle aged, white British, football addict-in-recovery Lee Simpson wants answers. He decides to make a show. A show about football, about rebellion, about standing up to fascism. And at its heart, the myth of the man who ridiculed the Third Reich.

Yet when Lee hires four women to make the show with him, they decide they don’t want to perform (yet) another play about a “heroic”, dead, white man. So what stories do we tell? And who gets to tell them? Is Sindelar an inspirational little guy or yet another man and his ego?

In a paper world of light and shadow, violence and dance, five performers work together on what sets them apart…

A wickedly funny surge of energy” – Exeunt 

★★★★ – The Stage

Previously performed at Norwich Puppet Theatre as part of Norfolk & Norwich Festival and La Strada Festival in Graz, Austria.

Supported by Cockayne – Grants for the Arts and the London Community Foundation.


Where did the idea for The Paper Man come from?
Lee Simpson shares the origins…

The initial idea for The Paper Man came from a very prosaic moment. I’m at home, it is very late, I’m watching TV instead of going to bed, flicking through the channels (this is maybe 12 or 13 years ago before it was Twitter that kept me from closing my eyes). My restless channel hopping alights on a programme that seems to be about football history. I love football, I love history, I stop flicking. It’s telling a story about a footballer I’ve never heard of. He was at one time reported to be “the best player in the world”. It’s late. I’m tired, but it looks like he was an Austrian, who may have been murdered by the Nazis. I go to bed. Tomorrow I’ll start finding out a bit more about the Paper Man.

Soon I knew I wanted to make a show about this man and this story. It took all of those 12 or 13 years to get the funding to do that. Without quite knowing why I found myself putting together a team of performers that were not traditional casting for a piece about European football in the 1930s. They had very different ideas about the story and a very different relationship to it and that has had a profound impact on the kind of show.

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