Our Jack Part 1

I wrote the script to the short play Our Jack a few months ago, I decided to do what I do best, to help me promote my Jack Harrison statue campaign.

With the date of Sunday 30th April now set for our performance(s), at Kardomah 94, I’ve decided to now start writing updates in my blog.

First let me introduce you to everybody involved in the production at this stage, we also have set dates later in the year for a feature length immersive production, so I will introduce you to more people as we move closer to that further down the line.

Our director is Theatre Goddess, and original Trucker, Cassie Patton. Working with Cassie is an absolute dream, she knows everything about working on a production, and she is a huge fan of the man whose story we are telling.

Cassie is working so hard behind the scenes, she has had us rehearsing in her own home, including one-to-one sessions with some of the cast when it has been needed. She has also helped with the cost and procurement of costumes.

Katie Stones is playing Lillian, Jack’s wife, this thoroughly compelling young lady is an absolute treat to work with, she’s massively enthusiastic, and seriously talented with it, I honestly think she will do us all proud, both in the short play and the feature length show.

I only found her by chance, and I’m so happy that I did because she is just going to be outstanding I have no doubt.

Clare Crowther will be playing Jack’s mum Charlotte, and I have to say that I’m thrilled to be working with her. Clare is a superb professional, and learned her lines and got off script in double quick time.

We keep throwing new lines at her for her to learn, today in particular, and it’s all just done almost instantly, it’s a joy to behold.

Kenny Richards-Preston is playing Jack’s father John Harrison. Having worked with Kenny a few times I know exactly what to expect from him, absolute professionalism in bucket loads, and that’s exactly what we’re getting from him.

Kenny is so talented, and I am really pleased he said yes when I asked him to play this part, he is the ultimate professional, everybody who sees this will love him to bits.

The high pressure part of Our Jack is taken on with relish by the brilliant Jordan Matfin. Cassie was the one who spotted him on stage in another show and, despite his considerable work commitments, he is really growing into the role.

Jordan is wonderfully talented, and a really nice lad with it, he’s really engaged with the whole process, and I couldn’t be happier to have him playing the part of Jack in the short play.

The reason I’ve started these blog updates today is because we started rehearsing on the stage at Kardomah 94, and I want to step up the updates other than the ones I’m already putting on social media.

I can confidently tell you that this is a very happy band of people that I’m working with on this production, and that is thanks in no small part to Cassie. As the director Cassie is making every rehearsal a very happy place to be, while also getting the best out of everyone, yours truly included.

Kenny was otherwise engaged today so I had to read in for him, playing the part of Jack’s Hull KR supporting father, most people will know that would be very awkward for me, being that I am a massive Hull FC supporter.

The only reason I can do that when needed, is the fact that I’m doing it for Jack, I like to think he’s smiling down on us.

When we had a meeting with Malcolm Scott about the feature length production, and he expressed his understandable doubts about showing a production about a historic Hull icon, it dawned on me just what we are taking on here.

When we started rehearsals for this short play it suddenly started to feel very real, and as we have been going through them, it’s certainly cranking up the pressure on all of us, hence why the feeling of fun is so important.

Katie and Jordan are having to get very used to each other to make their stage relationship look the way it should, as childhood sweethearts who had known each other all their lives, and then went on to become husband and wife and parents to their only son, as you can imagine, that bit isn’t at all easy.

Our next rehearsal is going to be a week on Wednesday so I want everyone looking out for more rehearsal photos on Facebook and Twitter.

At the time of writing this first entry, I have confirmation that Johnny Whiteley MBE will be at Kardomah 94 for the performance, which will include a Q and A with the cast, Cassie and myself on stage.

While I’ve been writing I have also just received a message from Sammy Lloyd that he will also be there on Sunday 30th April to perform some music for us, along with poetry from the brilliant Artful Codgers.

The Artful Codgers are a group of very good friends of mine Sue and Terry Ireland, Richard Harries and David Osgerby, and I believe there could be new work afoot from them, as well as their already established work, particularly including poems about Jack, Hull FC and World War One.

If you wish to donate to the statue fund here is a link to the JustGiving page.

The Facebook page is here and this is the Twitter account. Please also look out on social media for #Statue52

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National Poetry Day

Tomorrow, Thursday 6th October 2016, is National Poetry Day, and this time Hull based company A Car Load of Poets are getting involved.

Vicky Foster and Ian Winter, the brains behind A Car Load of Poets, continue to work extremely hard to bring, and produce, quality poetry in the next UK City of Culture.

Seven months ago they started Women of Words, a monthly gathering on the first Wednesday afternoon of the month at Kardomah 94 on Alfred Gelder Street.

While that continues to blossom, judging by the proven, and fresh, talent I’ve seen there, and it’s growing audience, our two heroes continue to reach out to the poetry world, and tomorrow is no different.

I spoke to both of them this afternoon at Kardomah 94, Ian Winter said: “Fortunately we’ve got Kardomah 94, and we’ve got Central Library, which are really open to ideas, which has helped get it off the ground.

“I think we’ve got 20 groups taking part, there’s not many I can think of what aren’t involved.

“We’ve got two stages, one at Central Library from 1pm til 4pm, which I’ll man, one at Kardomah 94 from 10am to 10pm, Vicky Foster will be opening that.

“The night time is a top performance poetry night, we’ve got Toria Garbutt, Louise Fazackerley and Stan Skinny and a special surprise comedy act is coming.

“We’ve got local poets Mike Watts, Peter Knaggs Lucy Clarke and Josh Overton on. There’s Open Mic and we’ll be doing a few poems as well.”

Newish group The Artful Codgers came into the convesation next: “The Artful Codgers were set up by Terry and Sue Ireland, Dave Osgerby, I think Richard Harris is in it, they just kicked off, I think the more groups we get involved, the more the merrier.”

The idea behind A Car Load of Poets came from a desire to promote talented poetry in Hull.

“Hull has some outstanding poets, who deserve to be on stage with the very best.

Malcolm Scott has also been a driving force behind tomorrow, with his well known enthusiasm for the artistic scene in Hull.

“Malcolm Scott has always been very encouraging, he’s like a breath of fresh air, because without Malcolm Scott in the town, there’d be a lot of writers, playwrights like myself either wrapped up, or just continue taking work out of town.

“Tomorrow will hopefully become a regular event, the groups here will hopefully take them out to the community and schools.

“This is just the foundation for it, to be a bigger and better event. Hats off to all the groups, there’s been no thinking about it, it’s been yeah I’m on board, I’m on board, which is fantastic.”

“There’s another creative outlet coming from this dynamic duo as well: “We’ve got a new thing starting in the new year called The Word Hull.

“That’s going to include spoken word, comedy and music, that’s probably going to be on at Kardomah 94, one evening a month, and that will be like a collaborative event.

“Most of the stuff I do is collaborations, Monologues Slam is done with Andy Wilson and Lucy Thurlow, so that’s 20/20 Theatre with Penny Duck Theatre and Scarlet Lights.

“I’ve got Vicky Foster involved with A Car Load of Poets, I always try to involve other people with stuff like A Car Load of Poets.

“You go to Manchester, you go to York, you go to Sheffield, and they all reach out, Joe Hakim and Mike Watts a few years ago were trying to do that for Hull.

“I’m just picking up from where they stopped really.”

Chatting to Vicky after Women of Words, she said: “National Poetry day happens right across the country every year.

“What we decided to do was try and bring local groups together, so we spoke to the libraries and the James Reckitt Trust, and they kindly funded the day and the night.

“So basically we’re going to be having a stage that runs here at Kardomah 94 from 10 in the morning, until 10 at night.

“That’s going to be in two sections, the first will be from 10 til six, there’ll be about 20 different local poetry groups, they’re all going to pick 20 minute spots, and in between those spots, we’ve got open mic available.

“In the evening we’ve got performance poets, we’ve got Toria Garbutt, Louise Ferzackally and Stan Skinny.

“Also, in addition to that, we’ve got a stage running at Central Library from one til four tomorrow afternoon and you’ll see some of the local poetry groups performing there, and there’s open mic spots available there too.”

The attraction of National Poetry day, it seems, is just a natural progression for our talented twosome, who spend a lot of time travelling around on our behalf.

Vicky continues: “We travel around a lot, listening to, and performing poetry and we’re aware that there are a lot of different groups in Hull doing poetry.

“We just wanted to bring those groups together so people can collaborate.

“Also it just gives people a chance to hear a lot of different voices, which is what poetry is about really.” This statement draws a little giggle from this thoroughly engaging lady.

There’s plenty of attraction for her to this event: “I’m really looking forward to all of it, particularly tomorrow night.

“Some of the performance poets who are coming tomorrow night, I really, really like, so I’m looking forward to seeing them.

“There’s a guy who plays the guitar, from the open mic circuit, and I know he’s been writing a bit of poetry, and he’s coming tomorrow morning to perform some poetry for the first time.

The final question is, If people feel like just doing a bit of poetry, they should just come along to this? She replies instantly: “Yes, that’s right.”

I would readily suggest, please go and support this event, it’s bound to be an absolute triumph, I’ll see you there.

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Photo L to R: Vicky Foster, Hannah Davies and Audrey Dunne