Meet Only Lucky Dogs: The Sheffield-Based Theatre Company With Big Plans For The Future

Photo Credit: Only Lucky Dogs Theatre

Pippa and Iz make up two fifths of the production team at Only Lucky Dogs, which was founded in January 2018. In collaboration with Makerspace at Portland Works, the company have announced a showcase set that provides a platform for the best talent that Sheffield has to offer.

Eli: How are things? How have you found your time in lockdown?

Pippa: It’s been hard. We’d started planning all of this before the pandemic hit, so we said, okay: hit pause, it’s fine. Now, it’s harder to have that mindset.

Iz: Especially when you’re on your own in your house. Although once you start talking to other people who are in the industry, you can bounce your excitement off others.

Eli: It sounds busy until 8 April, then?!

Iz: I’m studying an MEng, and Pippa’s working full-time, on top of everything we’ve planned. It’s exciting, but stressful. The technical stuff’s fine, we’re at the stage where everything’s been bought. We’re just waiting for it to arrive.

Photo Credit: Only Lucky Dogs Theatre.

Eli: What’s the interest from the general public been like?

Pippa: It’s been nice. I saw somebody who’d bought tickets and tweeted: “I’ve got tickets to real-life theatre, fingers crossed Boris doesn’t take it away from me”. It’s great to see that excitement. 

Eli: How exciting is it to be working with Portland Works?

Pippa: I remember the day that we first did a show in Portland Works, we just hired their space and got on with it. Then at the end of the run, we turned to each other and we were like, that was cool. What if that was ours? That would be fun, wouldn’t it? It came out of running with one of those ideas, and not just filing it away. 

Iz: I was gonna say. I remember there being lots of meetings and lots of squeaking. We’d have these professional conversations with the team at Portland and then we’d leave and be like, “Oh my goodness”.

Pippa: I remember sitting in your car after we left Portland Works, just squealing. 

Exterior of Portland Works. Photo Credit: Only Lucky Dogs Theatre.

Eli: I’d love to know more about what Only Lucky Dogs are doing with VR, I love all that stuff.

Iz: I started my final year in Aerospace Engineering, and I decided for my final project that I would try to create our venue in virtual reality, design a show, and allow people to access it. I wanted to see if there’s a market for accessible VR within pre-production because in theatre that’s very expensive. The main aim is to be able to use it on your mobile, which would be amazing because most people have access to that already. I think going forward, we could work with people in Germany or America, who we don’t know when they’re next going to be in the country let alone be able to see the space.

Eli: That’s amazing, there are so many possibilities.

Iz: One of the things that we’ve been talking about with Portland is making it a heritage tool for them; they’d have the ability to create Portland Works as it would have been as cutlery works in the 1800s. You put a VR headset on, and you can see what it would have looked like! Accessibility is also one of the issues that we’re trying to help them with at the moment. Currently, you can only access first floor spaces by stairs, but they’re in talks to get planning permission to put a lift in so that it’s a fully accessible venue.

Eli: From what I’ve seen, you have a great programme of events. Could you tell us a bit more about what you’re hosting?

Pippa: They’re all brilliant. We’ve programmed them because we wanted to showcase as broad a spectrum as possible. My important thing was getting a wide range, and having something for everybody. There’s music, improvisation, a show about conspiracy theories, an LGBTQ+ scratch night… It’s the variety that I’m excited about!

Photo Credit: Only Lucky Dogs Theatre.

Eli: What can audience members expect in the next Only Lucky Dogs production?

Iz: In terms of live streaming, it’s going to be relatively simple, you’ll click on a link and get comfy, basically. We’re hoping it’ll be either on our website or YouTube- it shouldn’t be super complex, we want it to be as straightforward as possible. I’m writing all the risk assessments under the sun.

Pippa: We want to show that it’s doable, and safely. We are very fortunate in that we can afford to put on a show with ten people in the room, thanks to government support. Small scale theatre is going to be the first to lead the industry out of this.

We are very excited to see what Only Lucky Dogs Theatre do next. The programme of events begins online, with a limited in-house audience, on 8 April 2021 and tickets are available now.

Words by Eli London.

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