'Who are Yer?' to 'Halfway Between' (12 Oct 2017)
Natalie Ann Hillman
Think back to October 2017. What were you doing? Autumn was in full swing and indeed the weather was likely miserable so you probably spent a lot of the month inside. I certainly did. Specifically, I spent a lot of that month in a rehearsal room at Theatre Deli Sheffield having, despite the grey weather outside, a joyful time creating a piece of theatre called ‘Who Are Yer?’.
‘Who Are Yer?’ was a piece of theatre, performed at Theatre Deli Sheffield, created in a partnership between the theatre company ‘Cardboard Citizens’ and Age Better Sheffield. Through this we captured, in interviews done all around the city, the voices of people aged 50+. We then used these in a verbatim style show which explored how Sheffield has changed and allowed us to learn about different neighborhoods and communities, and hear stories about living and growing older in our Steel City.
Fast forward to today, early June 2018. Many things came out of this story-gathering process/show from the positive social engagement it had in introducing more Sheffield people to both Age Better and Cardboard Citizens to creating an archive of stories on their website. Undoubtedly, this project connected a range of people and opened up conversations to explore these themes. This is exactly what this project did for me and indeed one of the other performers Joe Facer. After the show, we remained friends however didn’t actually have a chance to work with each other again. Until now.
Joe was recently accepted onto an acting course at Drama Centre in London, an undeniably exciting and important opportunity, particularly for a northern lad, but nevertheless an expensive one. The high costs of this has led Joe to setting up a GoFundMe campaign to try raise funds but he also wanted to do something more active and create a piece of theatre which celebrated Sheffield and its stories. I guess this is where I come in because Joe, knowing we both were still interested in exploring creating theatre around stories in Sheffield, asked me to create this piece of theatre with him. Now, a month or so on we’ve done some research and development and are in rehearsals starting to put this exciting piece together, with the help of some other amazing Sheffield creatives who behind the scenes are writing and supporting this piece in various ways. Perhaps, even more excitingly we have a date and venue to put this on at Theatre Deli Sheffield on Friday 6th July 7pm!
The piece itself is called ‘Halfway Between – Stories of the Steel City’ and explores further some of the themes we were particularly interested in examining further after ‘Who Are Yer?’ from how Sheffield as a place impacts on identity to more simply how we tell our stories. The performance will be a one man show using monologues, music and a bit of poetry created through looking at the memories people have of the city and the spaces that they inhabit. We’re looking forward to sharing this with more people soon and celebrating the stories that make Sheffield a living city. Ultimately, in engaging the audience with these stories we hope to encourage them to share theirs too. Until then, we’ll be sharing more updates and insight into the project such as profiles on the creatives involved and what they are working on and clips/ photos of rehearsals. These will all be over on our twitter @betweenshef or the Facebook Event where you can also find more information, read the blurb and buy tickets! Hope to see some of you there.