making the show
We had been talking about setting up a theatre company in our hometown for several years, but in 2016 we finally got some other people on board and started to make things happen!
We knew we wanted our first show to be entertaining, accessible, and rooted in Chorley. We decided to make a completely new play, inspired by an event, place or group of people in Chorley. The market felt like the perfect place – a place steeped in history and full of strong characters, right in the heart of the town.
Before we launched in, we knew we needed to do some investigating – what should the play be about? How would the show look, and feel?
With support from Arts Council England we did some research and development which enabled us to start answering some of these questions.
We were thrilled to get the brilliant Becky Prestwich on board, a playwright from the North West who has had recent success with her play Chip Shop Chips. Over two gloriously sunny weeks in August 2016, Becky and Liz spent their days interviewing people who work and shop on the market. Everyone was so generous with their time and we were fascinated, amused and genuinely moved by their stories, opinions and ideas. We learnt about businesses’ past and present and talked about the future of the market.
Inspired by all of this, Becky and Liz decided that this new play Under the Market Roof would be about family, community, ambition and the relationships we have to the place we live. We had a bit of an idea about what the story and characters might be, so Becky went away and wrote a first draft of some scenes.
We then spent a week in Chorley Town Hall with four brilliant actors, where we experimented with what Becky had writte.
We also wanted to include a selection of characters who ‘pop-up’ around the audience; a series of monologues or duologues which would weave in between the main scenes of the story. We made a makeshift market stall (first a children’s toy stall and then a hardware stall) and the actors came up in pairs to choose an item from the stall. They improvised a scene where they talk to the audience about what they’ve bought off the market. We wish we had filmed these!
We worked with designer Katie Scott (another great northern talent!) to start to imagine how we can use the market as a performance space.
At the end of the week we performed some scenes to an audience of market traders and interested locals. We took everybody’s brilliant feedback, tidied up and then went to the pub! The whole process was so much fun and it gave us loads of ideas which we then used to develop the full play script and plan the final production.
We want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported us so far. We’ve been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm, generosity, and openness of those who we’ve talked to. We couldn’t be more excited to make our first show,
Under the Market Roof in October 2017.