INTERVIEW: A Street Like This | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Ross Millard and Director Annie Rigby with model box houses designed by Imogen Cloet, image by Von Fox Promotions

One normal street, three different people, one massive sinkhole. Unfolding Theatre presents A Street Like This, a play written by talented local writer Alison Carr about both the ordinary and the extraordinary, the optimistic, and often fantastical… Exploring themes of division and human nature, the production will take to the stage at Sunderland’s Fire Station on Thursday 29th June.

Annie Rigby, director for the show, spoke about the collaborative process, explaining how they used group workshops and conversations with local residents in Sunderland as part of the creative process. “We formed some really good friendships with the people that we made it with. I was really conscious that there were people of different ages, different politics, different backgrounds, but they were all brought together by really enjoying making music and being part of something together. I was really keen for us to think well, what next? We’ve done this, how could we build on these relationships? And one of the guys who had actually not not been part of the show, but always brought his daughter said, we should make a piece about unexpected friendship…We shouldn’t know each other, we shouldn’t hang out. But here, we all are having a really great time.”

The music has also been a collaborative effort; spearheaded by The Futureheads’ Ross Millard, who worked with Unfolding Theatre on musical storytelling production Putting The Band Back Together. “Because we’ve had a previous relationship with quite a few of the people that are involved in it from the community, when we started doing the R and D the group was comfortable with us, they were forthcoming with their ideas. They’ve written a lot themselves and had a really solid hand in kind of steering how it sounds, how it feels, and what the contents like. My role for this one has been quite different; it’s almost been about filtering the ideas, bringing everyone’s ideas to the table.”

It’s a real invitation to the audience to think about these moments, these events that push us into new possibilities

Annie spoke about how she would like audiences to experience the show. “I really think it’s going to be a really fun, joyful experience. It’s a really funny play that
Alison’s written. Her writing is so rooted in the North East, but also really extraordinary and surprising, and quite mad…it’s really playful. The idea is it could be a street anywhere, and we really hope it does make people think about the characters who live on their own streets, the happenings that shift different people’s relationships.”

Why is the show important to share right now? Ross answers that question. “The street might have previously been anonymous or disconnected. [This project has] invited people who were previously disconnected to share something or be a bit closer together. I think the show reinforces that. We’ve gone through it ourselves, through the process; everyone’s in their own bubble, living in their own lives. And through some semi-magical happening everyone’s brought together. I think that’s quite interesting given what we’ve all gone through with the pandemic.”

In many ways, A Street Like This shares experiences that we all have. In others, it is completely fantastical. Annie wants us all to consider how we respond to challenges, comparing art to life. “It’s a real invitation to the audience to think about these moments, these events that push us into new possibilities. When you feel stuck, suddenly something happens and you think actually, I could be somebody completely different. I could make a different choice in my life than the one I’m making right now.”

A Street Like This is performed at The Fire Station, Sunderland on Thursday 29th June, and Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle on Thursday 28th September.

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