Last year I ran a guided tour workshop for The Foundry, the REPs’s emerging professional performer platform, to encouraging thinking about city spaces as potential stages. We generally don’t spend much time standing still in the urban environment but if you do claim the space as your own, its rhythms and sense of the place quickly emerges. People will ask you questions – usually the way to the station – because they sense you belong there. Watching the hundreds of short stories unfold around you can give the impression (as a local playwright once claimed) that all the world’s a stage.
‘This Is Freedom’ by Amerah Saleh and fellow performers Sipho Eric Dube and Alisha Kadir responds to my original challenge. We ran a theatre promenade piece in the very first Still Walking and I’ve been keen to stage the next one ever since. The festival’s approach to commissioning new walks is to offer support where needed to make the event happen. That can mean anything from co-authorship of the event to just doing the risk assessments and tweeting about ticket sales. The theme of their piece is ‘freedom’: what that actually means and whether you yourself have it in an ethical, political, cultural, legal, mental or environmental sense. So freedom is what I’ve given them – when I see their performance on the night, that’s when I will be able to tell you more about it.
I know that ‘This Is Freedom’ draws from existing characters, narratives and ideas, reassembled and re-presented to respond to specific spaces. I’m looking forward to seeing these places as I know them transform into something entirely different. I know they are going into one of my favourites too: the ‘water gardens’ area behind the old Central Library, a space that a diverse demographic has already planted its flag into. I’m thrilled that Madin’s creation will see at least one more use before it disappears forever.
They’ve chosen to start it at sunset too, while most of the other guides are racing to avoid being caught out in the shadows. Join me for this bold and challenging premiere at 6pm, Tue 18 March meeting at the underpass on Navigation Street. Very limited tickets available.