My love and I have ten minutes to find the venue and we’re lost. As we back track up Hindley street, we see a familiar face pop out of an alleyway and relief washes over me. We’ve found it. The alleyway is framed by posters for the show on either wall. I don’t know how we missed it. Others arrive at the same time we do, unexpectedly they are familiar faces that fill me with affection.
We are handed an instruction sheet to choose our nickname and log in to the show app. We make our nicknames and they wave us through. Down the alleyway and we swing left, down stairs and into a small room scattered with chairs. There is a small bar to the right and another small room with chairs. We can buy drinks at the bar and we continue to stumble into some of my favourite people as the venue fills up. We picked a good night to attend.
People gather in groups, some sitting on the scattered chairs and some standing, everyone waiting for the show to start. We pick out the actors by the small microphones taped along their jaws, they are dotted among us. The room has white sheets taped at various locations, we see the rolling projection of audience nicknames appear. We try to match nicknames with new people coming in. The projections match the app screen appearing on our phones. We’re all logged in and ready for whatever this is going to be.
Throughout the show I stand, I sit, I stand again. I eat crisps. I drink coke. I laugh. I cry. I feel the weight of sadness, of grief, of collective shame, of joy, of hope.
Technology is rough and ready, gritty with texture, projection sheets are slightly crooked, projectors are installed in milk crates. Actors look like me. Actors look nothing like me. Actors tell their own stories. Actors tell other people’s stories. Ushers are audience, are wait staff, are aware. Music is quiet, barely noticed but powerful, perfect, necessary. Audience can interact with their phones, or not. The phone app creating a tweet-stream like back channel, another way to listen, to learn, to question, to contribute.
This is the theatre I want more of. This is the theatre that I want to make more of. This is the theatre that I want to see more of. This is the theatre that I want there to be more of. Theatre that tells stories of here and now. Theatre that moves me. Theatre that reminds me. Theatre that pokes and prods. Theatre that unites and celebrates. Theatre that closes my throat with hurt. Theatre that fills my fingertips with hope. Theatre that is not perfect, does not try to be perfect. Theatre that is contextual and nuanced. Theatre that doesn’t have all the answers but has some offers. Theatre that takes me to old places in new ways or to new places in familiar ways. Theatre that does neither and both all at once.
It might not be your cup of tea, it might have a completely different effect on you. That’s okay. Not everything is for everyone.
January 25-28 2017
Director, Developer and Performer –
Edwin Kemp Attrill
Associate Producer –
Devisors and Performers –
Matilda Bailey, Melissa Maidment, Jamila Main, Jason Masiglia
Composer and Musician –
Lighting Design and Technician –