“I Hope Someone is Listening” – Impressions and Images from Rising Up

Production Images from Rising Up by Chris Payne

I’ve just got back from the first few dates of Rising Up, the play I wrote, with songs by the wondrous Sean Cooney. I am knackered. As Kat would say in the play, I look like seven shades of shite and need to crack a Red Bull, sharpish. I won’t though. It tastes like fizzy Benylin.

The last two and a half weeks have been possibly the hardest graft I have ever done. I had 9 days to direct Rising Up, That included: rehearsing the actors in their two huge intercut monologues; coming up with a good frame story for the three musicians; settling them in to being on stage in a theatre show; deciding which of Sean’s wonderful songs would go in to the play and where they should go in order to make sense of or highlight the narrative; deal with costume and design; stage the thing and run a tec’ with Richard Owen our fab lighting designer. I began with a clutch of songs and an un-workshopped script, and I ended up with a show.

Rising Up premiered, with no preview, in theatre One at HOME in Manchester last Wednesday 16th October. And, thank God, it has turned out great. The audiences seem to love it (although the ones who hate it or think “meh” never come up to you afterwards, do they?). I myself am so happy with it, and incredibly proud of the huge efforts made in the last 2 weeks by our amazing cast and tec’ team: Joanna Holden who plays Maggie, Helen O’Hara who plays Kat, Lucy Farrell, Sam Carter and Jim Molyneux our superb musicians (who are now also wonderful actors too) and Julien Barratt our sound tech, Richard Owen, our lighting designer and Cally, who made our beautiful banners.

Rising Up is a cracking show. It is passionate and contemporary. It is steeped in the history of Peterloo but set right now in 2019. It has amazing songs about everything from the 1819 Manchester Constabulary to Greta Thunberg. It breaks theatre conventions and revels in it. It is angry and funny and the music is gorgeous. It is about violence and guilt, and what women do with their anger.

I love it. I hope it has another life beyond the seven performances booked for it. Check the diary page of my website for the remaining dates. I hope to see you at one of them! x