Our last professional production The Boy With The Bomb In His Crisps was inspired by a true story from Manal, a local Arabic restauranteur.
Her story inspired us to investigate what local people had experienced as newcomers.
Funded by the Arts Council and co-produced by the Belgrade and Mercury Theatres, we interviewed over three hundred people, individuals and community groups, from all walks of life, on their experiences of being new to a place. We asked them what community meant to them, and what they felt makes us different and what makes us the same.
The groups were diverse. We interviewed Asian businessmen, gypsies, paratroopers, Irish immigrants, refugees, religious groups. However varied the backgrounds were, they had so much in common in their experiences! The definition of brotherhood we received from one Chistian group was identical to the companionship the squaddies in Colchester talked about!
Although we stayed faithful to the oral histories we received, we wanted to creatively reflect the themes we had discovered as writers too. We used an imaginative setting and story framework for the final piece. So six characters found themselves at a railway station, where the train never came. Suspicious of each other at first, they soon came together in their similar plight. To pass the time, they shared their food, their stories and their sorrows.
This project gave a voice to local people and brought many local minority and community groups together. It was also a wonderful experience for Mad Half Hour. We loved the research sessions spent chatting and sharing stories and food together. We were so proud to see such a rich mix of the community sitting together in the auditorium on the first night to see the finished piece.