ThickSkin’s Walk This Play® series rethinks the limitations of theatre by using innovative tech and providing access on a wider scale. Sorry, I Disappeared was a collaboration with Derby Theatre and we were truly inspired by the experiences of new arrivals to Derby.
Sorry, I Disappeared is one of the shortlisted pieces in the Sound Walk September Awards 2022. Here, writers and directors Michael Beigel and Jess Williams reflect on their work.
As a Theatre of Sanctuary, Sorry, I Disappeared allowed us to make an even greater connection to our Sanctuary Seeking community and to talk to them about their experiences of arriving to Derby for the first time and what they’ve discovered about the City. For many of the community, this was their first interaction with Derby Theatre, and we launched the commission as part of our free monthly Community Cuppa which brings together Sanctuary Seekers to participate in creative activities. The audio walk was then enjoyed by our audiences from across the city and county for free. Having established a relationship with Gabib who arrived to Derby, we cast him in one of the voiceover roles, and he has since gone on to perform in other productions for independent theatre companies in the region. The project gave a voice to our community and welcomed them to work with Derby Theatre and ThickSkin.Derby Theatre
We did not take this work lightly and were in awe of the people and stories we heard. A story of a new arrival was not our story to tell, but we tried to engage with some of the feelings and ideas that could connect audiences in some way to some of the situation.
Elle disappeared, again. Her brother, Kay, has traced her to Derby. He discovers the hidden messages she’s left him around the city, like an Easter egg hunt or a trail of breadcrumbs.
You said you needed a new start…
So this is it, Derby, an alternative history.
We were really excited by the connection that is created by talking directly into an audience’s ears and grasped hold of the unique opportunity to create a story that could take our audience on an emotional, imaginative, and physical journey.
We wanted to create surprises from the familiar, to discover interesting sights and points of view, to explore new twists and unfamiliar turns. The project was a way to see a city differently, to celebrate some of the famous landmarks, point out some of the often-ignored moments, and witness Derby all through new eyes. It allowed us to engage with a feeling of alienation in a playful way, playing with the idea of an audio tour to create a puzzle that connected audiences to the characters and this wonderful city.
The characters are given such personality and added humour by an incredible cast. Ajjaz Awad creates such depth in Elle, drawing you in to her story. A huge amount of joy and comedy is brought by Sean McKenzie as a mischievous and incredibly proud Derby tour guide. Completing the trio is Gabib Gadzhialiev lending his warmth as the narrator, we’re delighted that this is the first and final thing you heard in this show.
The thread that links everything together is Lee Affen’s incredible composition. The music is wonderfully eclectic and a key driving force. Everyone that does this walk has a unique experience depending on how fast you walk yet Lee created music that will always accompany you on your way, whatever your path.
Creating Sorry, I Disappeared with ThickSkin gave us the opportunity to tie together a disparate collection of people through a connection to, and fresh look, at a dynamic city. We tried to see Derby with fresh eyes, create new ways of understanding familiar sights without prejudice or conditioning. We wanted to know the facts but be playful with what was shared.
Sorry, I Disappeared is a new folk tale and a tribute to a truly welcoming city.
This text is the seventh in a series of the artists shortlisted for the Sound Walk September 2022 Awards talking about their work.
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