World Factory

World Factory: the performance has been a sell out success. Initially performed at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich (23-30 April 2015) and then  at the Young Vic it has since enjoyed a series of tours throughout the UK:   in Cambridge at The Junction from 18 – 21st October, followed by Brighton at The Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA) from 15 – 18th November. (To see the Brighton freesheet, please click here).
It was at Manchester HOME from 7 – 10th December.  We also held university workshops, giving interactive lectures, including Rotterdam at Het Nieuwe Instituut, and a round table with an exciting array of economists and social scientists.  The latest run has been at Brierfield Mills as part of the Fabrications festival in September 2017.

‘One thing we might learn from World Factory is that if there is such a thing as responsible capitalism then it is in its death throes or was faking it all along.’
 Exeunt Magazine
‘One of the guiltiest pleasures going’
What’s On Stage
‘A ground-breaking theatre/game. Deep, research-based. & Done with commitment.’
Paul Mason via Twitter
‘Lively and ambitious … World Factory makes us complicit in the process of exploitation before pulling us back to see a bigger picture that ain’t so pretty.’ The Times
‘Smart, mischievous and genuinely thought-provoking.’ Financial Times
‘An ambitious, provocative and intricate piece of game-making, evading easy answers and polemic while succeeding in making us think’ The Stage
_MG_8078‘A stunningly presented experience. […] the attention to detail is superb.’ Time Out
‘A richly absorbing experience’ Evening Standard
‘The sophistication of the experience and the dynamics of the game make the production much more than a piece of interactive participatory theatre.’ The British Theatre Guide
‘This is where World Factory shines as a piece of theatre. The traditional boundaries between audience and subject matter are smashed: we are implicated in the web of the show.’ Culture Whisper
For further reviews of World Factory: the performance please  click here.


World Factory is an interdisciplinary performance project, exploring the relationship between China and the UK through the lens of the global textile industry. (If you have purchased a World Factory shirt, please click here).

 World Factory was performed at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich (23-30 April 2015) and then ran at the Young Vic  (11th May to the 6th June 2015) – it proved so popular with audiences it was extended by a week.

Photography by David Sandison



The background to World Factory

Capitalist global textile production in 19th century Manchester and its impact on socialist thinking provides the starting point for looking at this fascinating history in relation to the rapid change underway in contemporary China and its shifting position as the workshop of the world.

Zoë Svendsen and Simon Daw collaborated with Shanghai-based theatre director, Zhao Chuan, to pool research and develop the project. To research the topic, they decided to (attempt to) participate in the system, by having a shirt made in a Chinese factory. Please see here for more details. Underpinning this research process is an open and growing website, the Digital Quilt that shares nuggets of information between China and the UK, between the creative team and the public (please see here for the rationale behind the quilt). Metis was delighted to host Zhao Chuan and Wu Meng in Cambridge for a two week residency last Autumn.  For more information and to listen to sound recordings from this residency, please click here. As part of their commitment to researching the project ‘in public’ METIS have hosted several café and gallery events in which invited speakers share their perspective on the World Factory phenomenon: World Factory: a cafe conversation at The Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Manchester – 25th February 2015 CVS Media House residency – February 2015 World Factory: considering consumption – January 2015 Pulse: The Shirt and The Shop – June 2014 Hunt&Darton’s POP-UP Shop: Launching the Digital Quilt – May 2014 World Factory: 28 Hands Make Light Work – February 2014 World Factory: A Conversation in Progress – November 2013 World Factory: Presenting Research – May 2013


World Factory: The Pattern

To accompany World Factory: The Performance, METIS and Company of Angels created an educational resource pack which brings to life the topics of globalisation, business ethics and the history of manufacture for students from KS3 to GCSE. World Factory: The Pattern provides an exciting opportunity to explore the global textile industry, focusing particularly on the relationship between the UK and China. The pack contains interactive technological tools and is designed to be used in classrooms without the presence of an external facilitator. It provides valuable resources, a wealth of source material and inspiring activities for the teaching of the National Curriculum across a range of subjects including Geography, History, Business Studies, Design and Technology, Religious Studies and Citizenship. To find out more about The Pattern, please click here.

Advice for schools and colleges – If you are using the World Factory book to play the game as a group – please  click here  for guidance instructions on how to explore the World Factory in a workshop context.
World Factory: The Workshop

METIS has worked with the Cambridge University Doctoral Training Programme to develop a bespoke World Factory workshop, that uses the show’s game structure, but explores in more depth both the politics behind the aesthetic form of the work and how that relates to the socio-economic contexts explored in the production. If you would be interested to read more about the workshop, please see here. If you would like to inquire about the workshop, please email:


World Factory: the game

By Zoë Svendsen and Simon Daw

Made in China. Sold in Britain. Worn by you.

From the factory floor to the catwalk, from Shanghai to London, World Factory weaves together the untold stories of people connected by the global textile industry.



This published edition of World Factory: The Game adapts the highly successful, provocative and participative theatre production for the page, offering readers the opportunity to play – as individuals or in teams – the managers of a clothing factory in China and recreate the experience of the game.

Like a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ novel, the game has multiple routes and outcomes, interlinking questions of ethics, fashion, consumer capitalism, environmental impact, working conditions, migration and globalisation. In a cross between Monopoly and poker, players trade in workers and money, but it is a game about values – will you be an ethical factory owner or will profits always come first? In the rag trade, can anyone ever really win?

World Factory was created and produced in 2015 by the performing arts company METIS, in co-production with the New Wolsey Theatre, Young Vic, and Company of Angels. It was performed at the Young Vic, London, and on tour of the UK.

The book can be purchased from the publishers’ website – Nick Hern Books

Retail price is £14.99 and there is currently a 20% discount offer available.  The e book is coming out soon.

Advice for schools and colleges – If you are using the World Factory book to play the game as a group – please  click here  for guidance instructions on how to explore the World Factory in a workshop context.


World Factory: the Shirt

Part research method, part art object, The Shirt is a specifically designed consumer item,  manufactured in a Chinese factory, which uses bespoke digital technology to make visible all the people and processes behind its production. The Shirt  has barcodes on it, and when you put your smartphone over the barcode, using a bespoke app, it will trigger digital content that reveals the very people and processes involved in making the actual shirt in your hands. The app was designed in collaboration with TheFusionWorks.

The shirt is available for purchase from the ArtsAdmin website.



Further resources

  • Book – Capitalism on the edge £10.50 – Available for purchase from the Murray Edwards websiteA companion book to the Murray-Edwards two-year lecture series “Capitalism on the Edge”, which reflected on what capitalism means today, whether there is any alternative and if or how capitalism can be changed to serve.
  • The Dark Mountain Project – a network of artists, writers and thinkers – has launched its first ever themed book, Dark Mountain Issue 8 Technê, which features World Factory.
  • For Paul Mason’s Guardian article on World Factory, click here.
  • For the Contemporary Theatre review, click here
  • For World Factory the Politics of Participation, Exeunt Magazine 4 June 2015 click here
  • ‘World Factory’ in Performance Research: On Game Structures, vol. 21, no. 4 (September 2016), 137-39





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World Factory was supported using funds from the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Cambridge Humanities Research Grants Scheme, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and the Sino-British Fellowship Trust, as well as with the support of the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich; Young Vic; Company of Angels; Free Word; Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA); CSV Media Clubhouse, Ipswich; Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary TheatreNational Theatre Studio; Grass Stage; and the MPhil in Public Policy, the Digital Humanities Network, CRASSH, Judith E Wilson Fund and the English Faculty, all University of Cambridge. BICC (the British Inter-University Chinese Centre funded by the AHRC) has supported research for events in Manchester and Shanghai. The University of Leeds has provided expert advice. The digital technology and app technology is provided by theFusionWorks.     youg vicnew wolsey    6848804e-b76b-4019-9315-fc4577444cd2              download (1)

Copyright © Metis Arts 2013