Six Characters In Search Of A Handout Going To Edinburgh Fringe

Hull-based Theatre on the Edge are taking their smash hit production to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2016 after its success in Hull this month.

The production, written and directed by Barrie Wheatley, is a gutsy, well paced, utterly realistic story of the hot brick subject of the large increase in use of food banks in Britain in recent years.

However, despite the massively political subject, it isn’t used as a hammer to bash the government over the head about what has led to the explosion of new food banks opening, or what is driving people to use them, instead it explains why they are being used in such vast quantities more subtly and apportions no blame apart from real situations which we all know about.

The show has moved between three nights at Kardomah 94, one night at Holy Trinity Church and finally one performance at the Northern Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) and, all the while, has collected money and food to be given to the organisations who fight daily against food poverty to feed the needy that are being created every day.

After the last show at NAPA the cast said it had all been a great experience for them, this super talented cast of Sara Featherstone, Maxwell Smales, Stan Haywood, Jackie Rogers, Chris Gruca, Molly Robinson, Clare Crowther, Dave Bush, Kirsty Old, Jamie Wilks, Ella Straub and Katy Burgess, who have handled this controversial subject with absolute mastery, explained how they have pulled it off.

Katy Burgess who played the controversial character Katie said that, because of the nature of the character, playing her in the surrounds of Holy Trinity Church was very interesting for her, and Stan Haywood who played the intense but very well meaning Arnold explained they had to change some of the dialogue when they were in the church.

Maxwell Smales said walking down the aisle there “Felt very powerful” and Sara Featherstone said that “Being able to see all the audience in the church was very different.”

Another highlight for the whole cast is that audiences seem to have all really identified with the characters and Sara also exclaimed that Katy had told her “No matter how much we don’t like it, there’s a Katie in all of us somewhere.”

Doing a Q&A after each show also seems to have been something of a masterstroke which has generally been very well received by audiences and participants alike.

This show deserves great praise for its unflinching quality and guts, it is a piece of theatre that everybody can absolutely identify with on different levels and, although tragedy doesn’t put bums on seats, this reality production hits the cause of it squarely between the eyes without being too one sided.

Six Characters

Six Characters In Search Of A Handout- Review

Theatre On The Edge have launched their latest production called Six Characters In Search Of A Handout at Kardomah 94.

This new black comedy is an outstanding piece of theatre with laughs, confrontation, guts and an unflinching genuine quality at its heart.

Dealing with a very hot subject that is very capable of blowing up if done wrongly, this production with a quality cast presents extremely well with six ‘Characters’ (real life people) asking six ‘actors’ (played by actors) to tell their real life stories of meeting at a food bank and how they ended up there.

The reality of the stories and the acting of them is hard to tell apart in a blissfully excellent way which moves the story along at a fantastic pace and also seems to explain some of the myths about the reputation of modern theatre in this day and age after careful cultivation over many centuries.

With a cast of 12 handling a really hot brick it would have been very easy for writer/director Barrie Wheatley to go down the political route and bash the Conservative government from pillar to the post due to the explosion of uses of food banks but it doesn’t.

It is also pleasantly noted that no one character dominates and the dynamic changes around as each character is explored in depth but for exactly the right amount of time to explain their personal story.

The cast of Molly Robinson, Maxwell Smales, Sara Featherstone, Dave Bush, Clare Crowther, Jamie Wilks, Kirsty Old, Ella Straub, Stan Haywood, Chris Gruca, Jackie Rogers and Katy Burgess are expertly pitched and perfectly suited to their parts.

The main strength comes from Arnold (Haywood) and Katie (Burgess) as the latter arrives last on the stage and gives a whole different dynamic with her ruthless treatment of the ‘Characters’ and is eventually taught a harsh lesson by the messed up but meaningful and charming older man.

With a political undercurrent which is perfectly handled by the wonderful cast who never allow it to takeover the proceedings this is very powerful storytelling at its finest with breathtaking control of a very difficult subject without creating a pervading scandal.

There is also an appeal to give to a collection for organisations that help to fight against food poverty with donations of Tinned food, Packets of food or money.

The production is on at Kardomah 94 on 5th and 6th November, Holy Trinity Church on 10th November and Northern Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) on Anlaby Road on 13th November tickets are £7 each at Kardomah 94, £5 each at Holy Trinity Church and £7/£5 at NAPA on the door at either venue.

Six Characters

A Day Out In The Capital

It was bright sunshine but freezing cold as I left my flat to walk to the Interchange. After picking up my paper from Chapel Street News I got to Hull Paragon Interchange in good time and found some of my fellow students waiting there.

Some of us got the 8:25 train and the rest got the 8:28 train, whilst Jools, Maria and Aaron were travelling on Megabus and meeting us in London.

Getting to London King’s Cross at 11:10 we quickly met up with Mr John Baron and waited for the rest of the group, on the 8:28 train, to arrive.

Once we were all there we made our way down to the Underground Station, got stung to the tune of £12 for a day ticket, and got on the train to Victoria Station where Jools, Maria and Aaron were meeting us to go to the offices of The Daily Telegraph.

Having eventually met them outside 111 Buckingham Palace Road we made our way into the very nondescript, but very imposing, building for our tour round.

The gentleman who showed us round was, I believe, called George, unfortunately we didn’t get his surname. He made it a very entertaining tour, allowing us to take some photos and telling us that he had worked there for 50 years but that he was 39 years old.

We were given a birds eye view of the working newsroom, before being taken downstairs to wander around it a bit later, he also pointed out what is known there as “The Golden Mile” where the carpet changes colour (from blue to gold) and so do the salaries because that’s where all the bosses work.

Also in that building he pointed out where the gym is and he showed us several different departments and some really innovative stuff like where it shows them how many readers they have reading, and which sections they’re reading at any given time, before leading us back out to where we first came in, via the dining/seating area.

After the tour we went back on the Underground to King’s Cross and myself, Jools, Maria and Aaron went to McDonald’s for lunch (naughty I know but I’ll soon work it off at the gym) while Liam stood outside having a cigarette and talking on his phone.

While we were in there a man came asking us if we had any spare money for him, we all told him we didn’t, then shortly afterwards when we were outside he came and asked us again, and again we explained that we still didn’t have any spare money.

We all met up again outside King’s Cross (where a little fruit tart will cost you £3) and made our way to the offices of The Guardian.

We weren’t given a tour here, instead we had a Q and A. First learning about CP Scott and reader numbers and the Scott Foundation, which is what keeps The Guardian trading, we then fired several questions at one of their journalists, in between being asked monotonously “Does that make any sense?”.

In all we were in there about an hour and a half and left there about 4:30 with some very useful information.

After this we had time to do whatever we wanted until making our way home, Jools, Maria and Aaron left to go and get their Megabus home, John, Jackie and Sophie went off to do some shopping and get a bite to eat and the rest of us decided to get on the Underground again and head to Leicester Square.

While there 7 of us decided to go to Chiquito’s for something to eat, while the other 2 went for a look round Chinatown. Having eaten we came back out into Leicester Square and were soon joined by the ladies who had been to Chinatown and we made our way back to King’s Cross to wait for our train home.

When we got to King’s Cross we found John, Jackie and Sophie waiting there as well so we had plenty to chat about while we waited for our respective trains (John was getting a different train) so the waiting time soon passed.

On the train we were waiting to leave when we heard a voice over the tannoy telling people to get off the train if they weren’t travelling because the train was now ready to leave.

The journey home was a bit of an experience because it was noted that travelling on the train with us were a bunch of Yuppies who had also been on the train that we were on this morning heading down to London, they had been drinking cans of lager and cider on the train this morning and they were drinking lager and Whisky this evening.

They were harmless enough but their constant playing of a game on a mobile phone and singing Oasis songs did try the patience a bit.

Finally made it home late this evening and just finishing this post as the bells of Holy Trinity strike 12:30.

Goodnight (after I’ve eaten and taken my medication).

Paris trip Day 3

The penultimate day in Paris. Martin and I decided to start with a trip to Notre Dame, it’s a massively imposing building and leaves you with a crick in your neck from looking up all the time.

We took about an hour to walk round the cathedral and take several photos. It is a truly stunning place and, once again, it is a place that I am very pleased to have visited and I will gladly go back there at some point in the future. It certainly puts Holy Trinity, which I live near, into perspective just because of the sheer size and detail of it.

We left the cathedral and went back across to Shakespeare and Company because I had only looked round downstairs last night so today I wanted to look at the upstairs. Looking upstairs is quite a thrill because you see where writer’s who are invited to stay there actually sleep.

There is also a personal library full of books which you can read but are not for sale at any price.

We walked the long distance back to the hotel, which took longer than we expected because we thought we were only about 2 miles away from the hotel.

After we’d had lunch I took my medication and fell asleep for a few hours, after this we decided to go and do the last bit of sightseeing by going for tea and then going to The Louvre art gallery.

The Louvre is massive and in the hour and a half we had there we only scratched the surface but having seen the Monna Lisa that was the part that I really wanted to see and we saw lot’s more Italian art and also Spanish art and Thomas Gainsborough also has a display there.

We took many photos again as we went round and it is certainly a place that I will have to go back to because it is a place that I could easily spend a whole day in.

After this we headed back to the hotel so I could have a shower and do this post in my blog, tomorrow is the long day as we make the journey home

All You Need is Hull, The Beatles and Me

Speaking to Lynda Hill, who compiled the above named book, you get a sense of just how much the fab four from Liverpool still mean to her now.

With a smile on her face and a glint in her eye in the magnificent surroundings of Holy Trinity Church it’s plain to see that she has a great enthusiasm for the band that has seemingly stood the test of time and passed it with flying colours.

The front cover of the book carries a picture of Lynda with the band. She explains to me that the photo was taken at The ABC on 24th November 1963 and goes on to say that they visited Hull 4 times.

She says “The book is my story about me and The Beatles. But not only that, it’s also the stories of other fans who had a connection to the band or other related experiences.

She continues “It’s about 1 city, 2 venues and 4 appearances. They had 2 performances at the Majestic Ballroom and 2 appearances at The ABC.

“One of the performances at the Majestic Ballroom was in 1962 and there was hardly anybody there, when they returned the following year to The ABC the place was jam packed to the rafters.”

The book was released on 20th September and Lynda did book signings in WH Smith in the Prospect Centre and at Waterstones on Jameson Street in the town centre.

The book can be bought at either of those outlets or directly via Facebook by sending a message to Lynda Hill personally or to her alternative page on there called All You Need is Hull The Beatles and Me- Book.

She also tells me about how, at the event last year marking fifty years since The Beatles had been at The ABC, she stood in St. Stephen’s on the exact same spot where she had stood fifty years before, when it was The ABC, at exactly the same time.

I also learned from her about how people from as far flung places as South America, Russia, Australia, Canada, Italy and Greece have ordered the book from her via Facebook..

Lynda is obviously a very genuinely heartwarming lady who recounts certain experiences she had with The Beatles with great zest, but don’t just take my word for it, buy her book and I’m sure you’ll also see her enthusiasm shining back at you.

Live Nativity a big hit again

Thousands of Christmas shoppers were treated to another magical Live Nativity this afternoon.

Flash mobs at St. Stephen’s and Princes Quay shopping centre’s surprised shoppers with impromptu performances that gave a new modern twist to the nativity story while other performers from NAPA took the parts of Mary, Joseph, shepherds and the three king’s.

With 2 donkey’s involved as well the performers made their way through Hull Town Centre, along Whitefriargate all the way to Holy Trinity Church for another celebratory piece of music and dancing.

Inside the church from 10 o clock in the morning was Trinity Open Market with several stalls doing a strong trade in gifts such as pictures, books and many other items all set in the magnificent surroundings of the church along with its Christmas Tree and decorations and nativity scene.

After the massive success of the recent Victorian Christmas Market trader Julie Buffey was once again involved with this market event and said that trade was going well again.

Outside the church in the afternoon there was Christmas Carol singing from the NAPA Choir before the live nativity arrived.

After the live nativity performance outside the church there was a candlelit service inside with all the lights off and many Christingle’s burning brightly with the live nativity, including the donkey’s, having made their way to the front of the church.

All in all the event again seemed to be very well run and was obviously another big hit with hundreds of people gathering outside the church for the arrival and performance of the live nativity, and many also taking places in the church for the candlelit service.