With On Corporation Street opening this week, we caught up with Assistant Director Michael White to find out what Irish company ANU Productions have in store for the 20th anniversary of the 1996 Manchester bomb…
From day one of rehearsals it was clear that ANU weren’t afraid of chaos, in fact they welcomed it. We spent the first day roaming through the corridors and backrooms of HOME, armed with post-it notes, leaving tasks and challenges for people to find. If you look carefully there are still notes stuck in obscure places asking those that pass to re-examine their relationship with the building, each other and the events that took place on Corporation Street twenty years ago. In themselves, these three provocations seem to be at the heart of ANU’s work.
The first task in creating On Corporation Street was to find a way of navigating audiences through the concrete maze of HOME’s backstage. With each twist and unexpected turn, through corridors and spaces, performers will guide the audience past fleeting images and unexpected events. There is no fourth wall. The intimacy of this relationship places the audience at the centre of the action as they become dramaturges of their own story. However free the audience may feel, everything is timed to the very last second. The intimate conversations that seem to come from nowhere, that sweep you aside for a moment, are perfectly synchronized. Everything is connected by an invisible clock. Nothing is left to chance. In fact, the logistics behind the production is insanely complex.
However what makes On Corporation Street such an exciting production are the hundred-plus testimonies that create a shared memory of the bomb and its aftermath. These stories are at the heart of the production. On Corporation Street isn’t an account of the events that day but a reflection of the events as seen from 2016. One of the first questions that ANU asked everyone involved in the project was “where do you stand in relation to the bomb?” This simple question has provoked more thought and debate than any of the logistical challenges. Throughout the rehearsal process it has loomed over every decision and it’s been immensely important to find the right response.
In the end, there is no single answer. ANU have created a fractured dreamscape that demands the audience to think for themselves about the bomb, its consequences and the effects it’s had on the city and the people of Manchester.
On Corporation Street runs from Fri 10 – Sat 25 Jun. Find out more and book tickets here.
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