INTERVIEW: Blowin’ A Hooley | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: L-R, F-B: Harriet Ghost, Micky McGregor, Hannah Marie Davis, Michaela Forbes, Elijah Young, Andy Berriman, Barbara Williams, Tracy Gillman, Alex Oates, Sam Stafford 

Back in 2016 actors Harriet Ghost and Micky McGregor struck out with their own venture, a vibrant and dynamic new Tyneside-based theatre company focused on representing North East experiences and support for new artists. Blowin’ A Hooley’s first production was of Tom Hadaway’s legendary play The Filleting Machine, a working class drama centring on Davey, a young man who is torn between continuing his education and making money on the docks. It toured to community centres and schools around the region to a positive grassroots response.

We want to give people opportunities that they might not otherwise have access to,” explains Harriet Ghost. “Not just actors and other creatives but also audiences who might feel intimidated about going to a building-based theatre. The Filleting Machine got such a good response from people from places like the Meadow Well estate, so much so that they would come up to us afterwards and say that they recognised themselves or a friend or family member in characters and attitudes in the play.”

Following this success Blowin’ A Hooley continued engagement with local communities, doing work which wasn’t necessarily meant for a wider audience but which focused on important training around the danger of getting into debt with loan sharks and also around grooming of young people for exploitation.

We want to give people opportunities that they might not otherwise have access to

Their next production, currently postponed due to the Covid-19 crisis, is Yarns From Hyem, which continues to champion North East talent by sharing four hilarious and moving stories of love, loss, hope and resilience, all written, directed and performed by incredible artists from our region. “We were really disappointed to postpone our performances but we’re of course more concerned about public safety. We’d just begun our first week of rehearsals and it was exciting to finally be at that point in the project but our fantastic team have been incredibly understanding and optimistic. Working in the arts can bring a lot of uncertainty at the best of times and this has been devastating for so many freelancers and companies who have had work cancelled with no support. We can only hope that these issues have now been highlighted to such an extent that new support may be put in place and our industry, and country as a whole, can re-build and come out of this stronger.

Also in the future, Blowin’ A Hooley are working with armed service veterans from the North East and developing a play based on the real life experiences of soldiers who were deployed to Afghanistan and, as with their previous work, the piece will tour to community centres, theatres and barracks along with an exhibition of veterans’ writing and artwork.

Given such a strong start there’ll be much more to come from this exciting and grounded theatre company who keep the North East close to their hearts.

Keep up to date with Blowin’ A Hooley via their Facebook page

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