'Pericles' was one of two productions (with 'Timon of Athens') which were the result of a collaboration between The Royal Shakespeare Company and Cardboard Citizens theatre company. They were presented as part of both the Complete Works Festival and the Belfast International Festival. Fred Meller was the costume and set designer for both productions.
In 'Pericles', Shakespeare’s themes of loss and reunion have been directly experienced by many of the members of Cardboard Citizens and were shared during the improvisational production process with RSC actors. They in turn shared their experience of Shakespeare’s language. As in all Meller's collaborations with Cardboard Citizens, his role as designer involved a deeply integrated contribution to the productions as a whole beyond the normal role assumed for a stage designer.
'Pericles', performed in a vast supermarket distribution warehouse off the Old Kent Road, challenged all the conventions of theatre performance, even those conventions established as site-specific theatre. Movement through ten spaces, each the size of half a football pitch gave the audience the experience of a journey into different worlds.
The audience became cast themselves as asylum seekers, sitting at individual desks to fill out the government’s asylum form. They then accompanied Pericles through three storms and eventual reunion with his family. They created the storms out of a washing machine space with an industrial container as a ship and wet red cross parcels as the sea.