Bonus Tobias and Syd: uncover the gift of inspiration

Tobias and Syd is a play which explores why tobacco still has such a hold over the world.
Find out more about Tobias and Syd - the cast, events and links at our main Tobias and Syd page:

Join the Tobias and Syd conversation

We asked our cast and crew to share their stories of tobacco with Arthur Burston. Filmed by Tom Sparey and edited by Nick Sutton.

Gaia Ashwood

Joseph Tweedale

Ell Potter

Kezrena James

Events coming up

Tobias and Syd - beginnings

‘Tobias and Syd’ is a play written by Elspeth Penny based on ideas and research contained in Professor Andrew Russell’s book Anthropology of Tobacco (Routledge, 2019).  Elspeth invited Andrew to give a talk at The Tobacco Factory in 2020, as part of Life of Breath’s End exhibition, Catch Your Breath. 

Tobias and Syd gets voted in

Elspeth secured Arts Council England funding for a project in which three plays were authored for possible selection for further development as a podcast. Over just over two days, the plays were explored in improvisations, with actors Chris Pirie and Kirsty Cox. We also had visits from composer Matt Sheeran, artist Vanessa Moody and clinican Barny Hole. At a workshop at ‘The Puppet Place’, Bristol, on 15th February 2022 the three plays were given a ‘scratch’ performance by three actors. “That was really good, very entertaining, it was an impossible task mind, wasn’t it, they’ve all got something” Paul Appleby, ex BBC Wildlife. Tobias and Syd, however, was voted #1 for podcast development by the audience. ‘You’ve got to make that play’ Dr Barny Hole, our kidney doctor friend generously said, in spite of it meaning that we’d not take ‘Letter to My Kidney’ further just yet, a play based on his research. What an engaged and informative discussion though – feedback from this event is informing all the three projects. Andrew and Elspeth then invited Dr Alice Malpass to join the team as an evaluator and we applied and got extra funding from Durham University ESRA IAA fund, to live record the play (rather than record it online), plus to make accompanying videos and webinars.

Our first open online event: Early stage play reading

So happy with how our Tobias and Syd draft play reading and discussions went: some lovely reactions: “Congrats on a large and stimulating meeting.” Professor Justine Schneider. Thanks so much to our performers at the reading, puppeteer Chris Pirie, Kirsty Cox and Annette Chown.

Our co-production panel and Advisory Meetings

We have a growing team of advisors/co-producers on the project, and can’t wait to tell you about them. Most of our meetings happen on zoom, but sometimes we get to meet and discuss things in the big outdoors, or in person.

Additional thankyous for all the wider help, support, David Richmond, Deasy Bamford, Andrea Hernandez, The Island, The Puppet Place, Theatre Orchard, Heather Wright, 2BU’s non executive advisory board, Fiona Matthews, Paul Appleby, Barny Hole, Justine Schneider.; Innovate Edge Uk, Lois Barton, Lee Hutchinson MShed.

A trip to Canada for an award ceremony

2BU’s play Silva Lining’s Care Plan, recorded in lockdown, was nominated for a Rockie Award. Whilst in Banff, Canada at the World Media Conference, Elspeth went to an excellent Indigenous summit, and was happy to meet many fabulous people, including a few First Nation and Indigenous people, who shared their unique perspective on tobacco use.

Tobias and Syd illustration by Maria Herreros. Photo Credits for the page: Tom Sparey, Elspeth Penny. Big thank you to all our unparalleled creatives, advisors, contributors and funders for supporting this work.