Pro’s: The event constitutes a valid and accessible platform to discuss socio-political issues.
Con’s: A bit of background information about some of the stories would have been useful.
With the intention of exploring how global events have an impact on every-day life, Some People Productions put a call out a few months ago, looking for young political writers with a story to tell. The outcome is the second edition of their sell-out ‘quick-writing response magazine-theatre night’, where six 15-minute long stripped-down productions are staged in front of an audience.
The evening kicked-off with Halva, the story of a young Iranian woman (Nina Moniri) living in New York, where she settled with an American boyfriend (Nathan Chatelier) and built a successful career. Her situation becomes suddenly dramatic when her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer and she realises that if she goes to visit her back in Iran, she won’t be admitted again into the US, due to Trump’s restrictive immigration laws. Torn between re-joining with her loved ones and leaving behind the new life she worked so hard to build, her mental health declines rapidly and her final choice will never feel like the right one. Written by Ankita Saxena and directed by Roman Berry, this work could be easily developed into a longer one.
Playwright Julie Barnett and director Benedetta Basile devised Antisocial Media, the most entertaining piece of the evening. Lonely and forgotten by her friends, a girl (Rebecca Ormrod) is spending a Saturday night at home when she starts an hilarious quarrel with the personification of Facebook (Simon Pothecary) and Twitter (Hassan Govia). A brilliant snippet of comedy to remind us all of the invasive power that social media has in our private space and the way it can affect our lives.
Elephant. is a bleak piece about gentrification and the loss of cultural ownership that local communities experience as a result of the much-coveted regeneration of the suburbs. A Hispanic model (Ana Torre) has been hired by a photographer (Rebecca Wells) for a photo shoot, in a studio located in the former estate where she used to live with her family. The area has now become a hub for young artists, who prove oblivious to its history and long-time residents. Playwright Eleanor Ross’s strong narrative shows how casual racism and the failure to embrace diversity are still ingrained in the younger generations.
Neil Bebber’s Breathe boasted the most elaborate construction and original directorial angle. Starting as a comedy where a man in rags (Jordan Bernarde) makes a funny encounter with an inflatable doll, this one-hander elaborates on the reasons why the man doesn’t have a permanent residence, gradually delving into much darker revelations. I’d love to see how this plot linking loneliness, mental illness and homelessness would develop into a full-length play.
A bit of background information would have been helpful to better understand the episode narrated in Carly J. Hallman and Skye Hillgartner’s Larry and the Russians. A man (Alex McCarthy) and his step-daughter (Jordana Belaiche) live in the deep south of the United States and almost unwittingly get entangled in an espionage affair that involves the Russian and the CIA. Referring to both Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump, the creatives intended to point out how ignorance makes deceitful politics thrive within some of the most isolated and backwards pockets of society.
A modern showcase of political theatre wouldn’t be complete without a reference to the referendum that divided the United Kingdom. Performed by Lily Streamers and Adam Samuel Bal, Azeem Bhati’s Out Equals revolves around a “Brexit speed dating event”, in a romantic comedy where racial stereotyping is exposed together with Britain’s colonial past.
Consistent with the intentions of the organisers, each piece was effective in highlighting a selection of obscure global news reports that didn’t make it to the first page, as well as other timely socio-political issues that deserved to be told. As the founders of Some People Productions Eleanor Ross and Ana Torre aptly pointed out, theatre has a duty to tell stories that aren’t being shared and their valuable initiative offers an accessible platform to people who need to tell them.
Authors: Ankita Saxena, Julie Barnett, Eleanor Ross, Neil Bebber, Carly J. Hallman and Skye Hillgartner, and Azeem Bhati.
Directors: Roman Berry, Benedetta Basile, Jodi Burgess, Natalie Denton, Carly J. Hallman and Skye Hillgartner, and Mike Cotrell.
Producer: Some People Productions
Booking Information: This show has now completed its run.