Stephen Ireland is part of the Community Company for Angel Meadow. He tells us what it’s like to be developing this incredible production with ANU…
Before the Library Theatre Company closed to reopen as HOME, I used to attend its community theatre company. So I was naturally interested in being a part of Angel Meadow‘s community cast. We arrived for our first rehearsal at HOME’s temporary accommodation to be greeted by half a floor of office space filled only with mismatched pub furniture and two enthusiastic Irish women. It’s not the most conventional of rehearsal spaces, but that fits with the ethos of ANU Productions. We were told a bit more about what was intended for the play – ANU have picked out some real life people from the Industrial Revolution era gang culture and will be re-telling a story they were involved in, although it won’t be set in that period, and will incorporate some other events from Manchester’s history.
ANU don’t produce shows on stages in theatres and Angel Meadow will be a site specific performance taking place in two buildings next to each other in Ancoats. It’s a promenade piece which will take audiences of eight at a time through the story and through the buildings. Depending on decisions you make, you may find yourselves split up and taking different routes through it.
As a way of breaking the ice, and to introduce us to the principles behind ANU’s work Bairbre and Caoimhe took us through some theatre games. The most enlightening game was ‘sticks’. In a circle, we threw a stick to each other until we established a sequence where everyone received the stick once before it went back to the start. Once a rhythm was established, a second stick was added into the sequence. Then a third. Then a fourth. To keep four sticks flying across the circle without (too many!) accidents, we had to maintain awareness of what each other was doing, and where the sticks were. And that represents what we will have to do as an ensemble. We will be responsible for moving the audience through the space and the story, to be aware of where you all are and where you are moving to. I’m excited to be a part of it – and I promise not to drop you!