Micro Theatre in a Shipley Pub – ‘This Islands Mine’
For the past 5 years I have been working on projects alongside Prof. Steve Bottoms in Shipley & Saltaire as part of the Multi Story Water project. It has been a really important part of the journey for me, and Common Chorus owes a lot to the ideas and ways of doing things that I developed on MSW projects. All good things must come to an end, but I am really pleased that I have had a chance to direct this one last, and personal favorite, piece ‘This Islands Mine’. I very much enjoyed directing Steve for the first time, and also working again with the excellent Kat Martin. But it was my favourite because it was simultaneously so engaging and yet so simple. Many of the previous pieces were epic in their scale, but this was great because it managed to be rooted in the site and the place, whilst it taking place on a pub table. The show captures the absurd and finite wonder of theatre; an art form that exists in a moment for whoever happens to be there – and then it is gone forever.
In it Steve and Kat play Danny and Barb, two adults who begin by reminiscing about their childhood growing up around the industrial waterways of Dockfield in Shipley. Before long the story takes us through their ad hoc research project they have been working on, mostly to distract Danny from his father’s death. Through their story the entire history of Dockfield is revealed and mapped using sharpies and household items.
I’ve never directed such an intimate and charming show before. Designed for pubs and folks homes, it tells a heartfelt story about how we relate to the places we grew up and both the good and bad that comes when the new replaces the old. If the audience sat and watched then it was only half an hour long, but they were invited to add their own stories into the conversation, and so it was often much longer. In particular in Woodbottom Working Mens Club our show became a conversation that went on for hours.
It was such a pleasant way of getting people talking about the place they live. For me, if theatre can get people talking and having a good time whilst they do it, then it is a win all round.