Standing at the Sky’s Edge is a musical that tells the stories of people who live and love in one Park Hill flat over three overlapping timelines, with the assistance of beautiful songs by Richard Hawley. It’s the latest work of Sheffield-born playwright Chris Bush, and it isn’t the first time she’s taken on something divisive like Park Hill through the means musical theatre – she’s previously made Tony Blair and Katie Hopkins the centre of satirical musical comedies. Nor is Sheffield itself a new setting for Bush’s work; just a few months ago she brought to the Crucible Studio stage Steel, a play set in our city, famous for its left-wing politics, that addresses the challenges of being a woman, and in particular, a woman of colour in politics.
We spoke to Chris Bush as Standing at the Sky’s Edge comes to the end of its sell-out run, getting four- and five-star reviews all over the place. No doubt she’ll be back to entertain us on the Sheffield stage soon.
How would you describe your work?
Ambitious and irreverent. I like tackling big ideas and experimenting with form and genre, but above all else it comes down to finding honest human stories that an audience can connect with.
What inspires you?
Telling the story of Park Hill wasn't my idea, but I was delighted to be asked – it means a huge amount to the city, and comes with a lot of responsibility. Generally speaking, I just want to make work that matters to the audience it's put in front of – that's always my primary aim.
What are you working on next?
I'm writing my first proper Christmas show at the moment, which I'm thrilled about – although it's quite tough to do in April!
What, who or where should be better known in Sheffield?
I don't think Sheffield likes to shout about itself much, which is a shame, because it's amazing. Sheffield Theatres is a world class institution, and recognised as such, although when people hear ‘Crucible’ I'd love them to think theatre before snooker (room for both, of course)!
What would you change about the city?
Very little. Although better and cheaper public transport wouldn't hurt.