'Latherland' at Shop Front Festival, Coventry!

I'm currently sitting in my hotel room at the Premiere Inn, Coventry where ill be doing a live video mix for "Your favourite live and interactive Soap Opera!" Latherland, created by Susannah Hewlett and Steve Nice. Part performance art piece, part theatre production with a dash of improv, Latherland continues to explore all of the above but removed from the usual confines of traditional venues, no stuffy seating here! Each iteration of the show, originally called 'The Erinsborough Fringe' see's the story and cast of characters develop over the course of a 3 hour live performance, filmed and edited live to TVs around each venue.  

With a set beggining and end point, everything in between is really up to the people who join in. Audience members, local actors, café staff, all are welcome to don a new shirt and join the ever increasing cast, often jumping in with a little prep from set manager Steve. Thinking on your feet is essential and as previous shows have proved, anything can happen!

The show is part of a series of events under Coventrys new 'City of Culture 2021' banner, a well earned title and one that can hopefully benefit the city. Its been interesting to explore the town centre and try soak up a little bit of this new place. A quick google search brings back tales of a city sacrificed during WW2, bombed to annihilation to save the capital where the then government had a war to win. Photos of the aftermath reveal the extent of the devestation and go some way to explaining the abundance of brutalist high rises with the occasional tudor house that you'll find. I truly dread to think what Aberdeen would look like had it faced the same level of bombing. 

Now known more as a University city, the streets of Coventry were quiet and serene as I walked around well into the early hours. Skirting the large ring road that encircles the town centre, I felt like a barrier had been erected to protect the city from any future attacks but it also made me feel something nasty might be waiting on the other side. 'Black Market Blues' by Real Lies kept running through my head as cars flew past, the perfect soundtrack to those lonely streets.

'Shopfront Festival' (cuated by Theatre Absolute) was in full swing with pop up performances and art events in various venues including our little café tucked away in a real life City Arcade café. An early start meant setting up my mixing desk and connecting the live feed to the TVs dotted around the café so punters could enjoy the show and their cuppa although they could take centre stage if they wished. It also gave me a chance to catch up with some of the cast including Laurie Brown, a staple from The Erinsborough Fringe and a pretty unique talent. Joining Laurie we had Belinda Fenty, Vimal Korpol and Miriam Grace Edwards aka DCI Radford! With different actors and participants each day, both performances presented new twists and turns, a personal highlight came from a local chap who stepped in the first day and enjoyed it so much he came for seconds, well done Dean, if that's even your real name! But at the end of each day one question always remained, who killed Tommy Knockers!?  

It's been a hectic year for me so far but I'm always honoured when people want to include me in their work and I'm ever grateful to Su & Steve for inviting me to be part of 'Latherland'. Also to the team at Theatre Absolute and everyone else who's pushing to help Coventry realise its aspirations of fullfiling its 'city of culture' status, your energy and enthusiasm is already making it happen and its inspiring to witness. Now I'm back in Aberdeen its time to gear up for the Nuart Aberdeen production week, I did manage a quick stop over in London taking in some of the new street pieces on Brick Lane etc. But here's to everyone adding much needed colour to our gray cities!

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