A story of arrival and belonging

Be the first to favourite this.

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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Also check out

  • Curated news
    New

    Walking with John Cage | John Wilson | First Things

    · 27 Feb, 2024
  • Curated news
    New

    Bristol Upfest street art festival returns for 2024 – BBC News

    · 21 Feb, 2024
  • Post
    New
    Marŝarto23

    The winners of the Marŝarto23 are…

    Geert Vermeire
    Andrew Stuck
    Fiona Hesse
    Clara Gari
    Claudia Zeiske
    Blake Morris
    Viv Corringham
    Radhika Subramaniam
    · 13 Feb, 2024
  • Curated news
    New

    Singaporean director Tan Pin Pin on her new documentary walk walk, and 30 years of capturing the Lion City on film | South China Morning Post

    · 27 Feb, 2024
  • Post
    New

    5 misconceptions on walking art

    · 15 Feb, 2024
  • Curated news
    New

    10 of the best British walking festivals | Walking holidays | The Guardian

    · 3 Mar, 2024
  • Curated news
    New

    Walking through a Songline – Event Information – ArtsHub Australia

    · 27 Feb, 2024
  • Curated news
    New

    They call her the muse of Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival. She insists she’s a missionary – Newsday

    · 18 Feb, 2024
  • Curated news
    New

    The art of ‘getting lost’: how re-discovering your city can be an antidote to capitalism

    · 20 Feb, 2024
  • Curated news
    New

    Philippe Petit, High Wire Artist, Performs The Ribbon Walk At The Cathedral Of St. John The Divine

    · 28 Jan, 2024
  • Post
    New
    SWS23

    Oh! It’s the winners of SWS23!

    Andrew Stuck
    Geert Vermeire
    Annie Mahtani
    John Levack Drever
    Kim V. Goldsmith
    Richard White
    · 11 Jan, 2024
  • Post
    New
    Marŝarto23

    On the inside, looking out

    · 9 Jan, 2024
Curated news
New
Walking with John Cage | John Wilson | First Things

27 Feb, 2024

Curated news
New
Bristol Upfest street art festival returns for 2024 – BBC News

21 Feb, 2024

Post
New
Marŝarto23
The winners of the Marŝarto23 are…

13 Feb, 2024

The winners of Marŝarto23 are Monique Besten and Alison Neighbour, both covering pertinent life questions which affect us all.

Curated news
New
Singaporean director Tan Pin Pin on her new documentary walk walk, and 30 years of capturing the Lion City on film | South China Morning Post

27 Feb, 2024

Post
New
5 misconceptions on walking art

15 Feb, 2024

Curated news
New
10 of the best British walking festivals | Walking holidays | The Guardian

3 Mar, 2024

Curated news
New
Walking through a Songline – Event Information – ArtsHub Australia

27 Feb, 2024

Curated news
New
They call her the muse of Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival. She insists she’s a missionary – Newsday

18 Feb, 2024

Curated news
New
The art of ‘getting lost’: how re-discovering your city can be an antidote to capitalism

20 Feb, 2024

Curated news
New
Philippe Petit, High Wire Artist, Performs The Ribbon Walk At The Cathedral Of St. John The Divine

28 Jan, 2024

Post
New
SWS23
Oh! It’s the winners of SWS23!

11 Jan, 2024

It's time! The SWS23 winner "Headford Lace Trail" offers an engaging experience through storytelling and music, while the honorable mention "Semi-Colon" invites listeners to interact with nature. New jurors have joined, and submissions are open for SWS24. And, the public can now vote for shortlisted sound walks.

Post
New
Marŝarto23
On the inside, looking out

9 Jan, 2024

Babak Fakhamzadeh's installation piece, "In which I go for a walk," is displayed inside a shipping container. The immersive work features looped videos of the artist walking from Brazil to northern Sweden, encapsulating a sense of voyeurism and public space awareness. It also aims to entertain, offering a multi-layered experience for viewers.