We assembled a big community company for Manchester Sound: The Massacre with people from all over the city eager to be involved. Stephen Ireland tells us what it’s like to rave your face off and the importance of having the right trainers…
Two years ago, on a bit of a whim, I decided to go along to the Library Theatre’s Community Company, and I’ve been there ever since. Earlier this year Rosie, who runs the group, sent an email around suggesting that there was a great opportunity to be involved in a professional production. I applied for an audition without really thinking about it and after one of my most bizarre afternoons in years (you just don’t have those sorts of days in the civil service) I found myself feverishly checking my emails to see if I was in – I’d made the cut.
Rehearsals were hectic. I’m used to meeting up once a week for a couple of hours. One day we did 12 Â½ hours in the lead up to the first night. I can’t say it ever got too much, though. Everyone’s been working so hard in every department – the director included. When someone who’s won awards is putting as much thought into which trainers you should wear as they have into Henry Hunt’s white top hat (he’s a big figure from the Peterloo Massacre era) that energy and concentration sort of rubs off on you.
It was a great moment to walk into the performance space in full costume as we prepared for the first show in front of a real audience. All the attention to the little details had really paid off. I couldn’t wait to rave my face off. And the secret location really is a wonderful venue. Come to see the play and you’ll be surrounded by a sense of individuality, liberty, industry, and creativity; all things that have made Manchester the city it is. As a dyed-in-the-wool Mancunian, it’s great to see a theatre company putting something together that understands and celebrates Manchester; and to see it actively engaging with the community and the city staging it. Best of all is having the chance to be a part of it myself. It’s really something that will stay with me.
However my favourite part of the show has to be the audience. When you walk over to that car park you have no idea what you’re going to be presented with. We all love spotting the old ravers with a cheeky glint in their eyes – waiting to see if we know our stuff. There was a lady keen to get dancing who asked if I jived. I managed to persuade two lads to put me up on their sofa after the rave (it’s a long story). And there was a girl who I asked for her number and she actually gave it to me – still waiting for that call back though. This element of the show keeps things fresh and exciting and I look forward to seeing what you all have in store for us tonight.