Formula X


A new type of theatre – the ultimate rush of F1 reimagined in a track-event by Playbox

Playbox Theatre create Formula X – a track-event at The Dream Factory, Warwick. Supported by Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport. The new event will premiere on Wednesday 20th September as the centre piece of Festival of Speed 2017.

A cast of 26 young performers take audiences to the edge in an all new adventurous show that fuels the energy of F1 with the skills of circus, movement, theatre, multimedia and sound. Inspired by ideas in the book Chequered Conflict by F1 writer and commentator Maurice Hamilton, the show celebrates the excitement, power and conflict surrounding the sport.

The creators of Formula X drew inspiration from the themes in the book alongside the energy and challenge that pervades the world of action sports, with high speed skating, cycling, acrobatics, aerial, contemporary movement and text. It is a hybrid form of presentation that is staged on, in and around the track installation at the Warwick theatre.

A racetrack set on stage

Audiences at Formula X will find themselves immersed in an environment that places them in the heart of the event. Standing, sitting, moving across the arena surrounded by racers, screens, and interactive action capturing the unique thrill of being in the crowd at an F1 Grand Prix – albeit on a smaller scale! For those wishing to sit, there will be a special zone, otherwise the creatives encourage audiences to move around the arena and see the show from different angles, experiencing the action.

Training with Silver Linings

To hone and rediscover the cast’s inner racer, they have been in training across circus and physical disciplines with Silver Linings, the contemporary circus described as the ‘rising stars of British circus’ following their sell out at Edinburgh Festival show last year, Throwback. Daily regimes of conditioning, ground and aerial techniques will have brought the young actors to a physical level able to abstract the energy and skills of the idea of F1. All actors have a specific programme of fitness and conditioning to adhere to before rehearsing the all-new show this month.

Formula X has been supported by Brackley based Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport with actors learning essential skills at the factory with the Chief Mechanic and the Team prior to the start of the second half of the F1 season.  Mercedes-AMG Petronas have supplied team wear, film footage, technical advice and imagery. Joint creator Stewart McGill said, “The involvement of Mercedes-AMG Petronas is immense. It has given the whole work a baseline of authenticity and realism in what we seek to create. For the actors to visit the factory in Brackley and observe Team preparations is superb and will be reflected on stage in the show.”

A Fitness and Health Target.

Playbox Theatre works with young people across all ages and has, for a few years, wanted to develop a show placing the actors in a health and fitness programme to ensure understanding of the role exercise and regular training can play in daily life. The programme developed for Formula X will live on after the chequered flag closes the show and the skills and techniques continued across Playbox Theatre.

Formula X does not fit into any regular theatre pigeonhole – it is fast, it is intensive, it is high-energy and, for audiences, interactive and immersive. That is why we call it a track-event for all ages and a fast-paced start to the autumn season.


Formula X

A track-event by Playbox Theatre

Creators Stewart McGill, Mary King

Lighting & Sound Richard Cooper

Training Silver Lining – Tom Ball, Niamh O’Reilly

With support from Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport.


Playbox Theatre Festival of Speed to accompany Formula X

As Formula X speeds across the tracks in the main space at The Dream Factory, Warwick, the whole arts complex will reflect the sport in a Festival of Speed with surrounding events, film, exhibitions and demonstrations for all ages to enjoy. (Full programme available 1st September.)

Whether visitors are seeing the show or not, the whole place will have a thrilling atmosphere throughout September. This is part of Playbox Theatre’s desire to programme festivals for Warwick across the whole year 2017-2018.

 A breathing, pulsating world of high-energy speed…

Formula X has a pulse and life of its own and is propelled by a series of immersive, epic and thrilling images surrounding the action. This is theatre at the edge of the emotions.

The interview attached is available for your use. To discover more contact Nikki Cross on 01926 419555 or email


Creating Formula X

The conceptors Stewart McGill and Mary King outline the track event for Playbox Theatre

 SM You must be an F1 fan to stage a show like this and the idea came from enjoying the spectacle and atmosphere for a few years at Silverstone F1 events and reading Maurice Hamilton’s account of devious goings behind the scenes at McLaren some years ago, Chequered Conflict. There seemed to be a show somewhere but I really was not sure what it could be.

MK The original idea was to develop Wheels – a show that looked at the relationship with the wheel and this would incorporate the whole motorsport idea. We did shelve the project for a few years as logistics were proving too difficult to enable us to move forward. However, this year we have reconceived the show and it really is an exciting, noisy and fast paced event in our theatre. Especially with the advice and training from Mercedes-AMG Petronas.

SM We have not tried to place actors in mock-up racing cars – a very naff concept. Rather we have looked at the notions of speed, competition, the poetic expanse of motorsport and the drive to win. To abstract the idea using circus, dance and movement with carefully positioned text to enable audiences to experience the excitement of F1 at the theatre. Fortunately, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Team based at Brackley have been most supportive and this reaches its peak in late August when some of the cast tour the factory and learn how to wheel change in 2.5 seconds from the mechanics and skilled pit side engineers preparing for the second part of the F1 season. Can you imagine that – wheel change in just over 2 seconds!

MK It has been physically demanding and the actors are working through an intense conditioning regime with trainers to ensure they are at a level of fitness to execute the show. It is great for their ongoing health and will serve as a guide for fitness after the show is over. I would like to think Playbox Theatre is a responsible company for young people to attend for both artistic development and life skills.

SM The interior of The Dream Factory main space has been reconfigured as a track. It’s like a cross between Top Gear and Silverstone. I think audiences will love the immersive approach rather than sitting down in a fixed position. Action below, above and surrounding the them. True immersive theatre… very exciting.

MK We are gearing up for a massive September with our Festival of Speed surrounding the event and a fascinating link between a theatre and motorsport… we are not aware of this happening before although the dramatic context of the sport and the thrills make it the perfect theatre.

SM Hopefully Formula X will appeal to adventurous theatre goers and those who like sporting events and the atmosphere it surrounds them. It is a great start to the season at one of the real festivals across the building. Being located in the ‘Silicon Valley’ of motorsport it seems very apt to create this show just as F1 moves into the demanding second part of the season.


About Playbox Theatre

Playbox Theatre is a professional creative organisation developing theatre for and with young people. Based at its own custom-designed complex in Warwick, it aims to develop the skills talent and confidence of young people in the performance arts through exciting and innovative methods.

Founded in 1986 Playbox serves young artists and audiences across the Warwickshire and West Midlands regions with training and performance studios supporting its main creative base. Playbox Theatre places at its heart young people as artists and audience.

The Dream Factory is a creative collaboration between Playbox Theatre, Glenn Howells Architects and Sceno-Plus (Montreal). It stands on land provided by Warwickshire County Council.

Playbox Theatre is a key client of Warwick District Council and acknowledges support from RLSDAFAS.


Nikki Claire Cross   Playbox Theatre Ltd
01926 419555   Email:

Posted on: 9th August 2017