An abandoned warehouse, brightly decorated with graffiti, fairy lights and candles; filled with the aroma of freshly cooked curry and the buzzing excitement of a selection of Brighton’s diverse community. This is the setting for Brighton: Theatre Uncut, and if you aren’t chomping at the florescent whistle to go tonight, you had better have something pretty special planned instead.
Every year, Theatre Uncut in London commissions plays from writers around the world and, for a finite period, puts them out there for public use. This year, there are five plays that were made available on 13th October, with anyone in the world able to perform, rights-free, between 13th November and 13th December.
The topics centre around socio-political issues and, often deeply immersed in satire, are sculptured to challenge the status quo and encourage audiences to question social, economic and political behaviours.
The organisers, Emma Callander and Hannah Price, describe it as:
“Developed from an innovative process of collaboration between the writers, these are five interlinked short plays which work as individual plays in their own right but also, when performed together, form a cohesive full-length piece.
After a public consultation, this year the writers chose to focus their work on the theme “Knowledge Is Power, Knowledge Is Change.”
The audience were seated on long benches and fold-out chairs, snuggled close to ward off the cold night. This was theatre of the almost-elements, sheltered only by the corrugated roof and graffiti covered walls of the old market on Circus Street (behind Blind Tiger). Despite the cold, which was staved off somewhat by the supply of different teas, warm Indian food and hot water bottles, everyone was in great spirits. The setting was so unique, yet of course, so very ‘Brighton’, that a bit of toe numbing was a small price to pay for the experience.
Of the five plays, the first and the last were my favourite. My childhood friend, Serena, was in both but I like to think that isn’t what swayed my decision. The first, a very clever story that channelled Charlie Brooker throughout, was chilling in its conniving characters and dark, yet fully possible, plot.
The final play, The Most Horrific, stood out above the rest for me. It focussed on social issues that are extremely pertinent in modern Britain. Sexual abuse scandals, bare faced selfies, even the ice bucket challenge made an appearance, effectively demonstrating how turned off so many are to human and environmental issues happening in the world around us. A series of Facebook likes and dislikes were used to reveal what we already know: sex sells, especially when celebrity, abuse and scandal are in the same headline.
The Real Junk Food Project had their debut last night and my hat, scarf and gloves come off to them. This fantastic initiative intercepts food waste from a variety of places and turns it into healthy meals to serve the community. They operate a ‘pay as you feel’ service that is as delicious as anything you would find in a restaurant.
The whole event is ‘pay as you feel’ and any donations go towards Amnesty International. I didn’t have much money, since it was the day before pay day, but the organisers were truly grateful for whatever you could afford. This is fun-on-a-budget at it’s most divine and a fantastic, inspiring experience, even for those who don’t ‘do’ that kind of thing.
TONIGHT is the final performance. 7.30-9.45 at the Old Market on Circus Street. GO!