INTERVIEW: 24 Hours In Isolation | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Sky Hawkins

Scheduled for release on Sunday 21st June – which also happens to be the longest day of the year (although these days, everyday seems to feel longer than the last) – twenty-four North East-based artists will collaborate on a straight-talking isolation themed project, discussing the social impacts and issues of feeling alone.

24 Hours In Isolation, an idea brought to life by writer and producer Ben Dickenson and poet Sky Hawkins, introduces a new kind of storytelling production which aims to cast a light on untold experiences of seclusion and loneliness through the medium of music and words.

Presented as a series of micro-podcasts, the project features work from celebrated artists such as singer-songwriter Beccy Owen, the Door-To-Door-Poet Rowan McCabe, fusion artist Tracey Tofield, poet and performer Viv Wiggins and comedian John Scott.

Intending to raise regional awareness on the sometimes-damning effects of self-isolation, along with providing a provocative response to the epidemic of solitude which has been growing in British society even before the virus arrived, each creative involved will produce a short story that artistically represents the actions of real people dealing with their individual isolation battles – whether that be events prior to the COVID-19 outbreak or throughout the frustrating lockdown period.

some degree of isolation has existed before COVID-19. Loneliness affects all kinds of people, and it happens right around the clock. But how many of those stories do we really know?

Stories will cover a selection of thought provoking and emotive scenarios, including school students released early after spending the day ‘isolated’ from their peers; the relentless struggles of dealing with job insecurity and the 9am runners circling parks, each engrossed in their music and inner thoughts with body anxiety. Other hard-hitting stories capture battles of recently unemployed chefs struggling with Universal Credit applications, exhausted nurses overwhelmed by loneliness outside of work and single parents drowning in the lack of conversation they find as a result of 24/7 baby care.

Speaking about the inspiration for the project, Ben Dickenson said: “COVID-19 arrived unexpectedly, bringing sickness and death but also separation and hardship for many people, including countless artists. I’ve been furloughed from my jobs with City of Dreams and Alphabetti Theatre. As a creative with a social mission I found the isolation and purposelessness of this hard. I talked to a lot of people who had similar feelings.

This snowballed into stories from parents, nurses, children, supermarket workers and more. For many of us, it was also clear that some degree of isolation has existed before COVID-19. Loneliness affects all kinds of people, and it happens right around the clock. But how many of those stories do we really know? And what better way to tell them than through the writing, music and performance talent of the amazing creatives in the North East.”

Released on the hour every hour, from midnight on Sunday 21st June, each podcast will let listeners hear, sing along with and ultimately learn the consequences and effects of isolation. All 24 stories will be free to download in a single audio package the following day, before released as a complete collection by Wednesday 1st July. In the meantime, check out the project for updates on Twitter: @24_isolation

24 Hours In Isolation will go live on all major podcast platforms from midnight on Sunday 21st June

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