I imagine, predictable cynic stock personality that I am, that it would be no surprise to anyone who has met me or seen my work or just spent their life not being my grandparents, that to suggest myself and The Pub Corner Poets should be working on theatre aimed at kids is a bold statement not at all supported by history. It is no secret that we have spent the last year and a half being as over-the-top vulgar as possible, one only needs to google my name (something I do often partly to sate my disgusting ego and partly just to check I haven't been found dead and have somehow managed to access the internet from Hell) and the word 'angry' to find several articulate reviews moaning about how I'm not as clever as I think I am (untrue Margaret from Stoke, I'm brilliant) and complaints about how the PCP uses bad words that it doesn't understand from people so unplugged from the vernacular of our generation that they think we still use words like 'vernacular'.
Morons all of them. But as awful as these people are and as fun as it is to misrepresent their nuanced opinions and heavily imply that anyone who disagrees with me is a smug, cultureless charlatan, it is a point I'd like to address. We are not family friendly, most of us either don't talk to their family or have one at all and all of our theatrical momentum comes from drinking, swearing and smoking on stages around the country.
So why kids' shows?
I'm not sure.
If I were to hazard a guess I would say the answer is because we relate to kids more than we relate to you. We are all in our early twenties with delusions of grandeur, we live in a world where all our decisions have been made for us, our privileges stripped from us by those who got to grow up with those privileges and obtain positions of power thanks to those privileges, the same people who for some inexplicable reason just seem to want my life to be harder. I don't know why, but the last time I felt this way it was in a school playground where some kid twice my size with his hand in his pants kept shouting at me in an accent that my 12-year-old brain recorded as 'an English version of the deliverance accent'.
What I'm saying is is that no matter how old I or my comrades get we won't grow up until the world agrees to do it with us. We don't like bullies so sometimes we'll throw tantrums. Angry Tantrums that that smug, cultureless charlatan Margaret from Stoke will call ignorant. But when we've calmed down a bit we'll go fingerpaint pictures of better places to be. Pictures like DNGNS 'N' DRGNS: Abridged, because we may be rude violent egomaniacs, but so are kids. We get that the best time you can have as a kid is shooting fire out of your eyes because you're a Specsavers wizard dragon lizard monster man, we want to be a part of that magic for a bit, I do. Just for a bit I want to build something cool and fun and special with a few jokes to keep the parents entertained. You know what? I want to make some god-damn kids laugh.
Because we'll go back to throwing tantrums soon.
I've got a lot of adults I wanna make cry.
Josh Overton is the Resident Writer at The Pub Corner Poets and general clichéd malcontent.
So you've bought your ticket and found your way into the shiny new board game bar The BoardRoom but you've never played a fantasy board game before, there's all these actors poncing about in funny hats and where on earth have all the vowels in the title gone? Worry not brave adventurer, for here is a guide with some simple tips on what to do to not make the dragon angry.
STEP ONE: FORGET EVERYTHING YOU THINK YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS STUFF.
So these games generally go on for months, and The BoardRoom is lovely and all but we've all got jobs and families so we've cut it down to half an hour, and you don't have to worry about numbers and rules and the like, that's our job. Just pop in, relax and try and make our lives as hard as possible.
STEP TWO: BRING YOUR KIDS
The show is fuelled entirely by imagination, your imagination that is, that's the deal, and ultimately who's got a better imagination than a child? The first four shows of the day are totally family friendly (the late night show is very not, however), so bring your kids during the daytime and let them help us slay some monsters, we've no idea how to do it without them.
STEP THREE: IT'S GONNA GET WEIRD
We've never done an improv show before, some of us have barely played DND before and we're basing most of the show on audience suggestion. We're prepared to fight goblin hordes from your granny's biscuit cupboard or even defend the gates of Helm's Deep against a shortage of toilet roll, so bring your craziest ideas along and we'll make them a reality before your very eyes.
STEP FOUR: DON'T WORRY ABOUT WHAT WE JUST SAID
Though the show relies on your input to keep the story progressing, don't be concerned about having to be a storytelling genius. We have come up with various ways to make your job as easy as possible, meaning all you really need to worry about is enjoying the show. So come on down, take a seat and prepare to embark on an adventure you will remember for the rest of your life, or at least keep you entertained for half an hour.
The Pub Corner Poets: Dngns 'n' Drgns: Abridged
This is going to be a little blog about me writing a play about not being famous or successful.
Am I writing it, because this is a deep, dark thought hidden within my subconscious? Something that's been eating at my soul since I began this career?
I didn't think so, but when I started brainstorming ideas for the show... they came a bit too easily. I began to think... uh oh... was this a deep, dark inner box shoved in the back of my subconscious that I have found labelled: "Nope, do not open, bad things in here"?
I was like: "Nahhhhh, that's not me. I'm not like that."
Then I remembered: "Wait... wasn't I asked to write this piece?" And that's when I realised: "Yep. Yep, that's definitely me, then."
Okay, I may be over-exaggerating, because I'd like to think I'm not a bitter or envious person (I blame my American positive go-getter attitude) and I'm not panicking because I don't have Jennifer Lawrence's career (yet). I'm 25 and should be proud of everything I have achieved so far and blah blah blah.
I was probably asked to write this play because of my immense charm and talent and because, let's be honest, I'm freakin' hilarious. But it still made me think: "Gosh daring, is that the vibe I give off? Desperate wannabe?"
And yes. Yes it is.*
* I asked a close friend** this. They agreed I do give off this vibe.
** Please note: this person is no longer my friend.
But I don't necessarily think it's me. I think it's all of us.
We are constantly seeing fame: YouTube stars, Vine personalities, Twitter celebrities, Facebook friends who recently got engaged or had a baby. Success is literally right at our fingertips.
I think we are starting to feel like, "Well they have this, I deserve it too." I deserve it. For what though? Did you invent the lightbulb? Did you invent sliced bread. No. You made a few funny videos that your mum laughed at.
We need to be less self-entitled because we are vaguely good at something, or someone told us once: "Wow, you're going to be famous one day, I just know it."
Shouldn't we just do things because we genuinely love doing them and not because we want people to love us doing them?
I'm going to keep trying to remember that, even if I do see Ashleigh Keeton* achieving everything I've ever wanted.
*Ashleigh Keeton was very mean to me in highschool. She told everyone I had a fake eye.
Loren O'Brien, writer of Tomorrow Never Happens
My grandma moved down Hardy Street, just off Newland Avenue, in 1944 and has lived within two streets ever since. My Mum grew up on Alexandra Road, I went to Newland Girls, and the area has undoubtedly shaped my childhood.
My company Broccolily Theatre has been commissioned to produce a play for Assemble Fest, a one-day festival on Newland Avenue. This brilliant festival puts local theatre-makers into unexpected venues down Newland, giving companies like mine the chance to create work for the community.
The opportunity got me thinking about the avenue, the changes my grandma has seen, and what young people think about the avenue now. The idea for a show came quickly; we'd collect memories of what it was like growing up on the avenue in the past and turn these stories into a show for children. We interviewed people who grew up on Newland in the 1940s and 1950s to generate the material to make a show to tell Hull's younger residents a bit about their past.
We have support from Untold Hull, a project that archives Hull's past, and our interviews will be included in this audio archive. I've always been fascinated by oral history, listening to the memories of locals gives a platform to voices that often go unheard, so I'm excited to be contributing.
We've been so lucky with the openness of interviewees, hearing so many fascinating stories that might otherwise be lost. We've been told about a street where everyone knew each other, where children would always play out, square patties and chips for tea, and where families sang around pianos!
There's a real nostalgic, perhaps rose-tinted view of Newland's past running through these stories. At times I've been unconvinced, life without shoes doesn't seem that fun. But on the other hand we probably have lost that sense of community my grandma's generation shared with the road they lived on. We live in different times now; shops aren't run by families and kids don't play out as much. But perhaps through projects like Assemble Fest we can find something similar. On 28th May, local residents, families, students and business owners will come together on Newland to remember its past and to celebrate its now, and I'm very excited to be part of that.
Ruby Thompson, Broccolily Theatre: Square Patties and Other Scraps
First published for First Person in the Hull Daily Mail, 18.03.16
Tea, tea and more tea, that’s what fuels our rehearsals, especially when we’re right at the beginning of the process and searching for inspiration. So if you want to pop the kettle on I’ll tell you what we’ve been up to so far.
Our show for this year’s Assemble Fest is outside a laundrette and it’s all about washerwomen. We’ve been searching for stories about them, old and new, and we’ve found some fantastic legends, Breton, Celtic, and Saxon, to explore.
We had our first full team rehearsal this weekend (that’s Maureen, Ellie, and Charlie) to see if we could sort through our stories, and iron out our structure. As well as some pretty creepy tales of shroud scrubbing and webbed feet, we found a lot of humour and fun in the stories so we can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and plunge into the writing process proper (hands up anyone who wants to see Maureen imitating the Bean Nighe and wearing her boobs thrown over her shoulder).
We’re linking this year’s show to last year’s, so if you came along to The Cautionary Tale of Horrid Ham Carver you might recognise our characters. Parsley and Rosemary, the sisters from last year, are back, gruesome sense of humour intact, only this time they’re called Persil and Ariel and it’s foam rather than flour they’ll be chucking about. However, don’t worry if you didn’t make it along last year, this is a completely new, freshly pressed story, so you won’t feel like you got lost in the wash.
One thing that has stayed the same as last year is that music will be heavily involved. There’s plenty of washing songs we can’t wait to incorporate, although Maureen and I should perhaps apologise for our less than angelic singing voices now (obviously they’re a deliberate character decision). Our wonderful musician Ellie will be flitting between Manchester and Hull during the rehearsal process in order to compose us another original score, and she’ll be there on the day, pinny on and performing with us.
So for now we’re scrubbing away at a script, and then we’ll wring out some rehearsals, and finally we’ll see you all outside the laundry on the 28th May ready to sort through some odd socks. There’s been talk of water pistols, you have been warned!
Bellow Theatre: The Washerwomen's Warning
Can you believe that it's almost time for the third annual edition of Assemble Fest? We can't, and we're the ones organising it! But don't worry, everything's running smoothly at AF HQ and we're busy planning an amazing event for Saturday 28 May.
This year's companies bringing you a diversity of entertainment styles are Bellow Theatre, Broccolily Theatre, Middle Child, Theatre On The Edge, The Pub Corner Poets and The Roaring Girls. As always, the shows will take place in a range of unexpected spaces down Newland Avenue, from outside a launderette to inside a restaurant, with plenty of other fun stuff spread all the way from the Cottingham Road junction to the corner of Queen's Road.
Speaking of which, this year we've taken on a designated Curator to create a programme of awesome additional activity. Bex Phillips is working hard to find Hull's most eclectic talent, from musicians and artists to some really weird and wonderful acts, so keep your eyes peeled for more info in the next few weeks.
As always, tickets to Assemble Fest shows will be incredibly affordable (going on sale soon), plus we'll be holding a Happy Hour again, where you pay what you decide. In the meantime, check out this beautiful artwork that we commissioned Bluebeany to create for the background of our flyers and posters. There's a hamster in a buggy! *squeals*
Author: Rich Sutherland, Marketing Manager
To apply, please send a letter with an expression of interest and what you could bring to the role with your current CV to firstname.lastname@example.org by 12 noon Friday 15th January 2016.
Following two very successful years down Newland Avenue, we’re bringing a couple of popular shows to Hessle Road for a special mini festival on Saturday 4 July. What's more, you simply turn up to a show and pay what you decide, with every single penny going to charity. Full details are below and we hope to see you on the day!
CSI: Hessle Road
Barclays Bank car park
12:30pm, 2:30pm and 4:30pm
Something has kicked off on Hessle Road! There's an area taped off and it looks like forensics are dealing with something big. What is going on? What happened? Who is responsible? These questions and more will be answered (kind of) by two experts (sort of). Come along and find out what happens when the Apus Productions CSI team asks… Whodunnit?
Skirts, Shirts and Vintage Dresses
Dove House Hospice shop
1pm, 3pm and 5pm
Your clothes can define you. They can be your happy place, your badge of status, your blanket of grief, your dream of a new you… Or maybe it was just on sale. The Roaring Girls explore their own lives, as they reminisce over the memories held in these scraps of fabric.
Pay What You Decide
No need to buy a ticket. No need to book. Simply turn up to any of the performances above, which last 20-30 minutes, and pop a coin or two into a collection tin. Every penny raised goes directly to Dove House Hospice.
During the day you’ll also find live art by Something Entirely Different and accordion music by Andrew Palfreman near Yorkshire Bank, a yarnbombed tree by Stitch ‘n’ Bitch, plus ZoHu and her face painting stall outside Cake Crue. Bring friends and family!
The second Assemble Fest on Newland Avenue took place on Saturday 23 May 2015. For one day we had five very unique performances inside and outside of businesses down a single street. It was a delight to witness people's responses as they heard the Hansel's story through Silent Uproar’s headphones, charted body image through PinUpRound’s physical theatre, hugged and cried at The Roaring Girls' memories, unexplainably protested with Open Umbrella, and were regaled by Bellow Theatre's tale of dubious pie fillings.
Not only that, but there was pop-up art, a yarnbombed car, Punch and Judy, the Tent of Mystery, The Gold Man, face painting, science buskers, dance, stilt walking workshops and treasure hunting. The day was a feast of people discovering and rediscovering the avenue, the places, the shops and the talent all on this very special street. It makes you really proud to live in Hull.
It’s a joy to be able to create a platform and to start to get national attention. One of the things that is continually exciting and inspiring is the people involved in the festival, particularly how willing they are to collaborate and share space, ideas, hard work and talent. It’s truly humbling and continually motivates us to grow, get bigger and better, and work together to make something truly amazing. So watch out, Hull; the ideas hats are back on and we look forward to offering even more in the future.
Author: Madeleine O'Reilly, Festival Director
All images: Facet Photography
HU5 Art and Assemble Fest have teamed up to bring you a pop-up gallery for the weekend, hosting a variety of works by local artists.
Located inside the old Stamps Electrical at 123 Newland Avenue (corner of Melbourne Street), the owner, Ian Stamp, has been kind enough to hand over the unit and gone out of his way to make everything run smoothly.
We'd love it if you can put aside a few minutes to view some exciting art of various styles, and perhaps even purchase a piece to take pride of place on your wall.
Whether you have a quick shufty or buy an artist's entire oeuvre, you'll be supporting local art!