The Paper Man

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


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

Creative Team

Vera Chok
Sophia Clist
Colin Grenfell
Steve Harper
Jess Mabel Jones
Anna-Maria Nabirye
Adrienne Quartly
Lee Simpson
Steve Tiplady

What do we do when fascism comes to town?

In 1938, Austrian football star Matthias Sindelar humiliated the Nazi regime by refusing to throw a match. A few months later he was dead. Accident, suicide or execution? Inspirational little guy or yet another man and his ego? Who cares? 

Middle aged, white British, Football addict-in-recovery, Lee Simpson wants answers. He hires some women to make a show about football, Nazis, and our future.

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

Previous performances

14-19 May 2018 – Norwich Puppet Theatre as part of Norfolk & Norwich Festival.
1-2 August 2018 – La Strada Festival, 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.

Current Productions