Jumping straight into our first venue at Chorley Town Hall, we’ve set up our rehearsal room for the next 3 weeks in the aptly named ‘Lancastrian’ suite! This is where our performances in Chorley will be, so we’ve been able to set up the layout we will have on the nights, letting our actors become more familiar with the space.
On the first day Louie (our designer) showed to us her designs for the show. As we are moving to 6 locations around Lancashire, our set has to be transportable and fit in the back of a van! Lovely reds, oranges and yellow will brighten up all the venues we are going to be visiting over April and May, but we don’t want to give away too much here and you’ll just have to wait and see!
In this first week, we have been working with the words given to us by the 500 people we interviewed around the county. (Not all 500 I should add!) Verbatim theatre, where direct words said by interviewed recipients are used as the script, allows a truthful and honest story to unfold, but we as creatives have been deciding the best words to use and how to portray them. We have characters who only speak for a minute, and we have characters that we come back to throughout the performance. We have had to dive deep into the text and decide the essence and story being told to make sure that someone’s words haven’t been lost or misconstrued.
Bobby, Matthew and Natasha (our actors) worked hard with Kieran (our movement director) this week to find the movement and physicality of the piece. With so many characters and locations to portray, and not many props or costumes, how the actors move is a great tool to showcase all the voices of Lancashire. How someone walks if they are 11 years old or 94 years old will be very different!
Not only have we been speaking the words of Lancashire, but also trying some lovely local food and songs! The fantastic Bee’s Kitchen (who are providing food before our Chorley shows) have been fuelling us all week, along with snacks of Eccles Cakes and Lancashire Cheese (a scrumptious combination together surprisingly!). We also had a visit from Sid, who helped us with Lancashire dialect, songs and how the original lilt would have sounded!
At the weekend we got involved in What’s Your Story, Chorley?, letting the people of the town know about the show, and doing a workshop about how verbatim theatre can be used as a story telling tool. We gave our participants a written piece of one of our interviewees and asked them to imagine their age, how they talked and where they were. Using the details of the text, they were able to slowly create an image of someone in their head, but as soon as we played them the recording, once again their perceptions changed! We also discussed what it meant to them to be a Lancastrian, which is what we are ultimately trying to portray!
Watch out for my vlog (video blog!) next week!