SIMON Sharkey is the writer and director of Shift, a large-scale multimedia theatrical event telling the stories of the many “shifts” put in by “the ordinary people and extraordinary leaders” who shaped our society through their work. The National Theatre of Scotland production forms part of the 30th birthday programme of Summerlee Museum, built on the site of the former Summerlee Ironworks.

SINCE October last year I’ve been collecting stories from the people of North Lanarkshire about their life and work. I’ve been researching our future by digging in to our past to make a show about how rapid and dramatic the pace of change is and how quickly our lives will be shaped by this new paradigm. Everything is in “Shift”.

North Lanarkshire is a place I know well, having worked there in several different jobs throughout my early career. It seemed like the perfect place to reflect on our industrial past and imagine our future. To return there to make a piece of theatre is strange and wonderful.

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With our partners CultureNL and North Lanarkshire Council, we have engaged with hundreds of participants, and involved them in the creation of unique artworks. We created public art installations, social media broadcasts, visual art and photography exhibitions and are currently rehearsing a large scale site-specific show. As well as the community cast, we have been working with a number of brilliant groups and colleges, including Strictly Stretch dance group, students from Cumbernauld and Coatbridge College, Airdrie and Motherwell youth theatres and the Summerlee and Muirfield choirs.

We’ve collected hundreds of stories and in the process we’ve laughed and cried along with the people who have shared them with us. We are now in the lead up to the finale and a series of site-specific outdoor performances. The show is being staged on an industrial scale set, in the grounds of Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life.

We have created a multimedia theatrical event with music from local musicians and words from punters, poets, playwrights and pen-smiths from across North Lanarkshire.

We are inviting the audience to be taken on a visceral journey into a world of work where senses and emotions will be stirred with the sights, sounds and smells of bygone eras, bright new futures and urgent new ideas hatching around us.

Through song, poetry and prose we will introduce the ordinary people whose extraordinary lives shaped and tested our society through hard graft. Mothers, farmers, nurses, politicians, steel workers, teachers, thinkers, designers, scientists, shop assistants and students will gather in one space to celebrate their past and invite us all to join them as they step boldly into an unknown future.

Our venue for the final production is site-specifically perfect. Situated in Coatbridge, once known as the “Iron Burgh” and a significant contributor to Scotland’s “industrial heartland”, Summerlee Museum is built on the site of the former Summerlee Ironworks, a Lanarkshire factory at the core of the Scottish smelting industry.

There is the opportunity to catch up with the project on a weekly basis by watching our Shift Transmissions, broadcast online and on the Shift Facebook page every week, giving exclusive insights and behind-the-scenes footage.

March 29 to April 1, Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life, Coatbridge, 8pm, £10, £8 concs, £5 under 16s. Tel: 01698 403120. Check out there website by following this link