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

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Image: Kay Greyson

A comedian, a rapper and a writer walk into a bar… well a theatre… OK, it doesn’t really work as a joke, but as a show…

Newcastle’s bastion of independent theatre, Alphabetti, will kick off their Spring season with a series of audio plays centred around a theme of ‘lonely theatre’. Taking place online from Tuesday 4th-Saturday 15th May, the immersive hour-long show will feature three short plays from the three of the region’s best artists. They’re calling it Listen In, and it promises to be an absolute treat.

First of all, who are these fine artists? Well, true to their tradition of drawing from all corners of the cultural landscape, a comedian, rapper and a writer will present their stories. They will each take turns to give you profound insights into their worlds of hip-hop, fear, love, comedy and addiction in an immersive audio experience. First up, comedian Lauren Pattison gives us The Last Laugh, in which protagonist Katie Baker is preparing her return to her most dreaded comedy venue, having had the worst gig of her career there last time. “I’ll come out in a bit. Not yet though. Bit nervous. I had a nightmare of a gig last time, I’m spooked now. Like a dog who’s heard the hoover for the first time.”

Prepare to see behind the curtain, and find out what makes a show great or terrible for a performer. Lauren’s show is followed by The Interval by writer Richard Boggie, and performed by Carl Kennedy. This is a tale about escapism, addiction and love; while it’s playful on the surface, prepare for profound insights into Richard’s experiences with sight loss and disability.

true to their tradition of drawing from all corners of the cultural landscape, a comedian, rapper and a writer will present their stories

Last up, and in keeping with the theme of personal revelations from public figures, Tyneside rapper Kay Greyson presents an autobiographical story, An Empty Room, which focuses on Kay’s career and stopping off at her best and worst shows. “I started rapping when I was six, the forbidden world of hip-hop with all its thrills and swearing called out to me. I was hooked, I wanted to be a rapper, and I wasn’t accepting a plan B.” Her show will include both spoken word and live music performance.

The team at Alphabetti have been doing some soul searching over the last year, and they’ve identified a different way of working with theatre makers and audiences. With a vast majority of their work based around the Pay What You Feel ticket model, accessibility is key. The team at Alphabetti, spearheaded by artistic director Ali Pritchard, co-produce 90% of the work on their stage, and they’re encouraging visiting companies to work with them on longer term programming models, with three week runs fostering strong and long-lasting relationships for both artists and audiences. Committed to providing meaningful support for theatre practitioners as well as audiences, with regular relaxed performances and the majority of the venue fully accessible, the comfort and enjoyment of their audience is always of paramount importance.

As theatres begin to welcome people back into their spaces, it’s hoped that audiences will embrace companies like Alphabetti whose dedication to the telling of great stories has been unwavering throughout.

The Listen In audio plays are available via Alphabetti’s website from Tuesday 4th-Saturday 15th May

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