London-based theatre company, Some People Productions, specialises in work with a socio-political focus. Eleanor Ross, founder of the company and curator for Unfolded believes that “theatre...has a duty to tell stories that aren’t being shared, for people who don’t have a platform to tell them.”
Here’s journalist and playwright, Eleanor Ross, talking about the inspiration behind the upcoming new writing season of UNFOLDED. It will take centre stage for a limited time at The Bread & Roses Theatre on September 9 & 10, 7.30 pm.
Let’s hear it for political theatre (and all the wonderful things it can do) by Eleanor Ross.
I will become a learned, well-read individual, and, rather than standing in the pub talking about Dr Alex or unitards, you say. I will have an opinion on robotics and sound knowledgeable about immigration policy. Day one is good. Day one you read the whole newspaper. You even open the City pages even though you’re not certain what they mean. But you read them all anyway and get lost down a rabbit hole googling Bitcoin.
Day two is still interesting. You zero in on the articles about food waste and congestion and frankly the things that don’t really matter either way. Then day three is when it all goes to pot. And that’s where Unfolded comes in.
Unfolded, at the Bread and Roses Theatre on the 9/10 September, is a new writing night with a difference. It’s a night where stories must be relevant to the recent news cycle. It must touch on news that has affected others, but may not have been reported on the front page of the news.
Welcome to the stage, six pieces of new writing. Even one night of these shows will improve your cultural and political (and possibly even socio-economic) consumption. Take that, New York Times and chew on it.
Political theatre can be tricky to ‘do’. It can be mellifluous and poignant (see, everything written by James Graham ever) or it can be hitting-you over the head obvious. It can make you roll your eyes with excruciating pain that the writer even needed to put that in (see, the plethora of nudge-nudge wink-wink side comments spoken knowingly by characters in the past about Trump’s leadership). It’s tricky to get right.
At the Ed Fringe this year, there were countless plays that had a grungy, deep political edge. They did politics well, in that they kept you on the edge of your seat, and you leave with a sense that you’ve done or seen something really impactful. The Political History of Smack and Crack was one of those plays. In reality there was just a smidgen of history involved, but you cared about the facts and the stats they chatted about because you cared so much about the characters.
Similarly, in Trojan Horse, a play about the alleged Islamic infiltration in Birmingham schools earlier this decade, the lives of each character were crucial to the play. The audience heard testimony in courts from teachers, real students and the local council as though we were watching a true crime court-case. It was the sort of show that made you want to learn more about what happened, and after the play I saw loads of audience members googling what actually happened, which is probably the best result you can hope for in a political play.
This edition of Unfolded, as we play on the concept of a magazine-style theatre, will feature plays that touch on all aspects of society and life.
Ankita Saxena’s play explores a couples’ relationship in the wake of the U.S. travel ban on American citizens. Carly J Hallman’s play is a comedy about the NSA (see, nothing’s off limits here) set in a swamp in Florida.
There’s a play about gentrification in Elephant and Castle and the impact on the Latinx community who have made the area their home for generations. Neil Bebber’s Breathe is a brilliant monologue about homelessness, while playwright Azeem Bhati explores BAME dating in a post-Brexit world. Julie Barnett’s play Antisocial Media draws on the negative impact of social media on our lives.
Coming to an Unfolded show is an easy way of getting all portions of your politicals five-a-day, and you’ll be entertained at the same time. What’s not to love?