Whatsonstage.com Award winner Simon Bent’s new play Branded, about the environmental implications of a single pair of trainers, premieres tomorrow (1 May 2008) at the Old Vic, where have five performances – all free of charge - until 3 May. The piece, commissioned as part of the Old Vic’s Go for Green outreach and community project, features a cast and crew of 50, aged from 16 to 60, all selected through a series of London-wide open auditions.

Branded fuses a diverse selection of skills, including free-running, poetry, dance and physical theatre, to tell the story of the launch of an “environmentally-friendly” range of training shoes. Following the journey of a single pair of the “must-have” trainers, the production brings to life the economic and environmental effects of consumerism.

Writer Simon Bent’s other work includes A Prayer for Owen Meany, Under the Black Flag and Sugar, Sugar. Earlier this year, he won a Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Award for his adaptation of Elling, voted Best New Comedy (See News, 22 Feb 2008).

Branded is directed by Matt Wilde, with associate direction and choreography Aletta Collins. The amateur company also worked alongside professionals Aline David, Tam Williams and Daniel York.

Described by the Old Vic as “the culmination of months of environmentally themed workshops and debates”, the Go for Green project has already involved over 1,000 people taking part in schools projects across the capital. As part of this, the Branded rehearsal process is being filmed and distributed to 5,000 schools along with an environmental resource pack.

- by Theo Bosanquet