Not one to pass up an invitation to free theatre, I made my way to Hull’s Streetlife Museum of Transport just after lunch on Thursday afternoon. A friendly member of staff assures me that there will indeed be performance stuff happening all over the building. Meeting up with a restless crowd of students and adults, the Drama Dept. Head explains more about Every Cloud at Hull’s Street Life Museum.
First Year, Drama and Performing Arts students from Hull College, were challenged to create a short, site specific work, that responded to the location of the Streetlife Museum in some way. The theme for the work was positivity. Within that framework the students could respond however they wished, the result was a collage of vignettes, musical numbers, dance and spoken word all written and devised by the students.
With twelve or more performances, I cannot write about each and everyone so I have chosen a few that stood out for me that resonated in some particular way either for the content or the delivery. First the two streetwise tour guides, much respect. Gathered in front of the main man Mahatma Ghandi they had the unenviable task of controlling the crowd and linking the different elements in the promenade piece. Waving flags and bantering with each other and the crowd they are like good fun. ‘You get me though, you get me.’
The young ladies playing the suffragettes well done to you, despite any number of distractions, including some random woman pushing her pram straight across the performance space, you carried on undeterred. That showed great composure.
Two of the monologues stood out for me: the first the one about anxiety and insomnia as an art form, performed in a Chemists, by a compelling young actress, secondly the piece about suicide, that began in a dark space both physically and metaphorically, but gradually emerged into the light seeding hope and love.
About halfway round we came across a busker sat down in the alley. Around her she has a number of colourful cardboard signs proclaiming positive sentiments. She proceeds to sing and play guitar performing a song with honesty and sincerity that belies her years: everyone listens. It’s a good song, she has a good voice.
To the two young men who tried to weave a Back to the Future narrative in, so connecting the performances, it was an imaginative idea. Better integration with the individual elements were needed, for it to really work, but it showed awareness of the potential in creating layers of dramatic irony.
Finally the two actresses who devised a scene at the train station, congratulations for finding a setting that lent authenticity to your departures story.
Later on I found myself singing, ‘I Wish I was a punk rocker,’ in the Tesco aisle as I recalled the vibe on the post Vietnam love bus; cunningly disguised as a Victorian tram.
A glimpse into the future recreated in the present, contemporary issues rooted in the past, who knows?
Energetic, imaginative and at times painfully direct, in a few years given the right support, encouragement and space to grow and develop their craft, we’ll be hearing more about some of these performers. ‘For Real!’
Image courtesy Laurence Showler