Twenty years after the Manchester bomb we’re gearing up to debut On Corporation Street, our new joint show with interactive theatre company ANU Productions.
To learn more about what’s in store, cast member Etta Fusi discusses rehearsals and comparisons to part one of this theatrical tryptic, Sunder…
My time so far with ANU has certainly been an interesting one, unlike anything I have ever done before, and an experience I will never forget. Sunder is a show with a subject matter that I knew very little about, but one that is so pivotal to Ireland, and to where it stands as a nation right now. The 1916 Easter Rebellion was a very significant contributor to establishing Ireland as an independent Irish republic. Lives were lost and homes and businesses were destroyed as a group of people decided to take the future of their country into their own hands.
I arrived three-quarters of the way into rehearsals. The energy within the rehearsal room was incredible; everyone was constantly active and working on their sections. Though the ideas and structure had been formed, nothing was fixed and the shape continued to grow and adjust itself as we worked. One thing that is very important is the stringent timing of each section, owing to the durational style of the show.
The idea of movement and travel and the audience’s journey throughout was also important. When I first saw the email that said I was doing 10 shows a day, I sent one back just double checking it wasn’t a typo. Nope, it was correct, 10 shows a day! (Which I have been told is not the most some of the actors who work regularly with ANU have done) A ‘Pie Clock’ was created – a colourful time chart that allows us to see which actors are where and when, and to make sure they are able to reset in time for the next show . For example, I took on the role of Rosie Harte, a woman who lived in the last house standing on Moore street where the final part of action took place in 1916.
During the show, my house was entered by Mae Dillon, a young woman, and her father who it later emerged had been shot in the cross fire, and died on my dining room floor soon after entering. The audience of 2 witnessed the whole exchange and then split off with either Mae or myself to hear the final parts of our story and essentially the final stages of our lives. This lasted for 14 mins; 1 min to reset and then the second section of the 4 part audience would enter and the section would repeat. So essentially we actually did 20 shows a day. It was very tiring but my God, never a dull moment.
Each individual audience member that walked through the door helped to shape the next 15 minutes. Some were eager, wanting to help, vocal and very enthusiastic about being involved as we had invited them to do so. Others prefer to watch from the sidelines and observe, which is absolutely fine. There is so much that I could talk about – the atmosphere, individual experiences, the filming of the show and the signed shows for deaf audiences which changed the whole feel within the room. The touch and feel of another human, the intimacy between actor and audience and the boundaries that are broken.
As I left Ireland for Manchester, I genuinely could not wait for the next step in this triptych celebrating the 100 year anniversary of 1916 – and I am very much looking forward to bringing these visceral experiences to the Mancunians with On Corporation Street.