Rising Up is Coming Up ~ HOME, Manchester 16 & 17th October

I am sat at my computer, shattered but elated. Rising Up, the show I have written, with songs by Sean Cooney, has its opening at HOME in Manchester next week, Wednesday 16th October. I have been directing it all this week and it has been a superhuman effort by me and the whole amazing team to get it ready in a very short space of time.

That said, it’s still going to be brilliant. It is angry and funny and poignant and the music is gorgeous.

I have a wonderful cast: Joanna Holden and Helen O’Hara play Maggie and Kat. The most open, warm and brilliant of actors. And the musicians are equally sublime: Lucy Farrell, Jim Molyneux and Sam Carter continually amaze me with their ability to paint the air with sound at the drop of a hat.

I like theatre where everything is declared, so I am having the musicians on stage throughout, moving around and between the action. They are part of the reason the stories of Maggie and Kat are being told, after all. Folk songs preserve stories, comment on stories, allow stories to be told; they always have. And Sean has written some corkers. So it makes sense to me that these musicians are like midwives to the stories of Maggie, a woman who witnessed the Peterloo Massacre in 2019 and Kat, who is struggling in 2019 to come to terms with an incident where she felt silenced.

Even though they are on stage and in the action however, it is important to me that the musicians are not asked to ‘act’, rather just to be who they are. Part of the challenge is to help them feel comfy with being in a theatrical context. Luckily for me, Lucy, Sam and Jim are brilliantly receptive to that idea and are getting so comfortable and casual on stage that when they pool their focus they SHINE. It is beautiful to watch. And the actors Joey and Helen are amazing at absorbing that focus and giving such intense and wonderfully playful performances.

I hope you’ll come and see one of the performances at HOME on the 16th and 17th October. If you miss those, fear not: the show goes on National tour throughout this month. Details of dates and venues can be found here.

As for me, I have had a ball on one of the steepest, fastest learning curves I have had so far. My first full length commissioned play, and I am directing it too. I am excited, terrified and very proud of it. I hope you like it.