On Light Night Tomorrow’s Theatre will be performing debut show exploring basic income.
I caught up with Tomorrow’s Theatre founder Stephanie to learn a little bit more about what she does and the upcoming performance.
Hi Stephanie. Tomorrow’s Theatre is your new theatre in education group, and this is your first project. Where does the name Tomorrow’s Theatre come from?
I decided on the name Tomorrow’s Theatre because I’d like to create shows that might have an impact on the future. My two passions are politics and drama and Tomorrow’s Theatre really brings the two together. With Tomorrow’s Theatre I want to give people a voice, tell their stories through the use of theatre and create theatre for democracy; theatre that brings about change.
Do you consider yourselves to be progressive in drama?
I think that I do. I think theatre has been something that involves politics for a very long time I think a great theatre show is one where you walk away thinking that you’d like to make a change in the world and that’s the sort of theatre I would like to create. I think a lot of the time theatre gets seen as a luxury, as something that the rich go to enjoy, but I want theatre to be more accessible to everyone. I want it to be something that creates change instead of just sending people home with a nice fuzzy feeling.
Can you tell me a little bit about the project you are doing with Tomorrow’s Theatre?
Yes at the moment we’re doing a project called Utopia for Now. It’s a project with a group of adults and meeting on Wednesday nights at Blackburne House. We’re going to be performing for Light Night and a few days later on Wednesday 23 May. Utopia for Now is a project where we’ve been looking at basic income, the potential that basic income has to change people’s lives and to transform the lives of ordinary citizens in Liverpool. We’ve created scenes and characters, and we’ve mapped out the stories of our characters, thinking about what might be different and what might stay the same if basic income were to be introduced.
As you’ve said, the final piece will be devised from the workshops you are doing as part of the project. Did you consider finding an existing piece of drama, writing something or having something written, or was it important to you for the piece to be devised by the group?
My background is in community drama so my passion is allowing the participants in the group to have their voices heard and to devise the piece together. We do have a writer on board. One of our participants doesn’t want to act but she has an amazing talent for writing and writing social justice pieces. So she’s going to be taking our ideas and putting them into a script which will be a really great narrative.
So you have a writer on board as part of the group. Will you yourself be contributing any scripted elements to the final piece?
I’ve contributed a skeleton structure of what the piece might be like and then as the process has been going on we’ve been creating various scenes and deciding which ones to include and which ones not to include. As I am essentially the director I have the final say on what goes in and what doesn’t.
As you’ve said the project is exploring the potential that basic income has to transform lives. Transformation of characters often plays an important part in drama. Are you hoping that your final piece contains a key message about transformation?
Absolutely. All of the participants in the group went away and researched basic income on their own. They all came up with the same sort of conclusions that basic income does have the potential to transform lives. It’s not about rags to riches. We’re not expecting people to suddenly become millionaires. It’s just the transformation that can come about with financial security and not being terrified of going to the Job Centre to jump through the hoops that the welfare system currently offers people.
Do you hope that the final piece will contain certain elements or follow a particular story, or are you just excited to see what your group come up with?
I’ve always had certain elements in mind although this process relies very heavily on what the group comes up with. As I said I created a skeleton structure for the piece so we know what sort of direction it’s going in. We’re filling out the details.
The themes of your project are very political. Writers such as Alan Bleasdale are famous for doing political drama based in Liverpool. Are you influenced by other dramatists based here? Do you think Liverpool is an interesting city to work on political drama?
I think Liverpool is a wonderful city to work on pieces of political drama simply because so may people in Liverpool are very political and passionate about their political beliefs. I don’t know if I’m influenced directly by Liverpool based writers as such. I work at the Everyman and Playhouse Theatres in front of house so I do get to see a lot of plays from all over the country, and world sometimes, that often have a political message or some sort of social message included. I think I like to get my influence from everything I see around me, not just a few particular writers.
As you said you’re all set to perform at Light Night and shortly after. What else do you hope lies in the future for you and Tomorrow’s Theatre?
I really hope that I’ll be able to replicate this process in the future. I might be able to do one of these projects each academic term and alongside that I hope to be running theatre in education sessions where I can go out to schools and use drama to teach schoolchildren about local politics and how local politics works. I’ve done that kind of thing in the past; workshops to teach using drama. Another project that may be in the pipeline is for children’s centres. I’m looking into creating some sort of project working with the parents and carers who use children’s centres to create theatre there as well.
What would you say to someone wanting to form their own theatre company or devise their own piece of theatre?
I would say go for it. If you’re able to go for it and you have a dream and passion just do it. I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time but due to family commitments and other situations in my life I haven’t been able to until now. I’m so excited to be starting this and it’s giving me so much life. It’s definitely my passion and I’d say if you can follow your dreams just go for it.
You can find out more about Tomorrow’s Theatre on Facebook.
Break a leg Stephanie and everyone else at Tomorrow’s Theatre!