Songs For Breaking Britain

an image that has the title of the show style like a DIY album cover

THE MOST EXCITING THING I’ve been able to feel excited about for a while, I’m totally delighted to announce that the Arts Council has decided to support the making of a new show of mine via their Grants for the Arts. The show is also supported through the OvalHouse You Might Also Like season seed commission, and by ARC Stockton, Theatre in the Mill in Bradford and HUB in Leeds. DREAM TEAM. Why am I so excited? I’m possibly a little extra excited that usual because this is a show that crashes together my two favourite worlds; collected-story driven performance/theatre (‘community’ to some people) and PUNK AND EMO. Oh YEAH! This show is basically my opportunity to be in band even though I can’t sing. Because I am working with two ACE musicians, Sean and Keir. Hence the new name I’m working under ‘Hannah Nicklin and Company’. Here’s what I’ve been saying about the show to people:

This is a new show called ‘Songs For Breaking Britain’. The show is a collaboration between me and a dundee-based punk musician Sean Arnold, and a drummer from Cornwall, Kier Cooper. Songs for Breaking Britain will draw on the ballad tradition of England and Scotland – the simple storytelling structure which attempts to pass on stories beyond just here and now – have us humming tunes and sharing, retelling.  It looks like a musician and an artist on stage, telling you a story.  A story written with the help of others. Angry, too. Righteous. Earnestly so. We want to invite people to come and talk to us. We want to talk to them, and listen. Listen to their stories and make a bit of music with them. They will be fully credited if they want to be, and the whole process explained to them. And in talking to them, working with them, we will in turn seek permission to attempt to tell their stories, our stories of meeting them, as part of the show.

Our audience are people who mightn’t usually go to the theatre – people who would go to DIY gigs, or sit in a pub and listen to an open mic night. They are also people who do go to the theatre, but are used to work that pretends you aren’t there, and it’s also for people who like experimental but accessible work, who like the personal, who like the political. It’s a crossing space for an audience, a little bit new for everyone, welcoming everyone into a story telling space, which reaches to a tradition we all share.

The show might use the voices of the people willing to share with us. It might involve the results of canvassing on the street, it might involve people picking up instruments, of shouting, stamping their feet. Of quietly listening, of inviting people to engage in a small piece of radical empathy.

There’ll be a work in progress showing at the end of each week, and also a couple of artist workshops around the usefulness of anger. I think.

I’m also going to be working with a couple of other people – Alexander Kelly again, who this time will be doing some cool design that will make it a really interesting looking show for DIY spaces, Hannah Jane Walker who’s going to work with me on POETRY and SPOKEN WORD (so excited about that) and also brill couple of people who do fit session videos of bands I love, and a band poster designer.

So, first week of work on it results in 4 shows of 20 minutes of whatever we come up with as part of a You Might Also Like double bill at Ovalhouse, and then there are 3 more weeks in February and March across the north, working the show up into something that’s about 60-70 minutes long.

SO EXCITED. I’M GOING TO ORDER A LOAD OF BOOKS FROM POETS I REALLY LIKE NOW. People like Ross Sutherland, Tim Clare, John Osborne, Molly Naylor, Hannah J Walker. Any others you know of in that vein I should be reading? Tripping out slightly to David Berman at the moment, but I want a bit more Scottish and English writing-right-now voice…

So, yeah. SO EXCITED. Full dates to follow soon.

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