In Motion Theatre in association with OneRen funded by Future Paisley presents
Other Side of the River
Theatre, food, song, bingo and karaoke combine for this bright new play, which takes its inspiration from the warm and welcoming Ferguslie Park community
Written and directed by Lisa Nicoll
Music direction and composition by Michael Hill
Performed by Zoë Hunter, James Keenan and Scott Mooney, Michaela Sweeney and Leanne Traynor
SCOTTISH TOUR: Friday 14 April - Monday 8 May 2023
PRESS NIGHT: Tannahill Centre, Paisley, Scotland, Saturday 15 April 2023, 7pm
Originally commissioned as part of the 2021 Paisley City of Culture bid, this compelling, accessible and upbeat new play focuses on a working class community’s fight to be noticed for who they are, not what government stats, figures or media headlines tell them they are.
With many people experiencing access barriers during the current cost of living crisis, Other Side of the River, a dining and activity experience with a play at its heart, is being brought to local communities across Scotland. In Motion Theatre, in conjunction with local food and community partners, are also arranging pre performance activities for the areas the play is due to visit from cooking classes for local residents to journalism sessions for high school pupils.
Other Side of the River follows driven but lonely city girl Beth who is desperate to get a juicy article published so she can be noticed by her boss, her arch-rival Suzy McIntyre and to hear her sick Dad say he is proud of her before he passes away. Beth enters small Scottish town Ailm (strength, endurance and resilience in Celtic language) - which has been described as one of the worst towns to live in by the media - in the hope she will find a ‘good’ story that will make her feel successful and noticed. She is welcomed to the town by extended family Jo, Andy, Meg and Dan who, despite many obstacles in their life, know how to pull together and get on with things.
When the van which delivers food to the community and hosts the mobile bingo nights breaks down, the town must find a solution to get them back on the road again. While Jo, Andy, Meg and Dan plan their charity fundraiser, Beth’s questioning begins to get to the bottom of their secrets.
The play’s characters are inspired by Lisa’s and In Motion’s time working with the Ferguslie Park community in Paisley, the character of Andy is based on local 61-year-old taxi driver (and writer) Patrick Kidd. Another Ferguslie Park resident, Terry McTernan has also inspired the play. Terry McTernan has been championing for a change of attitude to places who receive negative press around poverty as a member of the Darkwood Crew. The Darkwood Crew are a group of residents whose aim is to help Ferguslie flourish, providing support for the community around food insecurity, fuel poverty, isolation and loneliness, mental health and the local environment. During lockdown, they had a strong community focus, creating a bingo bus to bring the beloved game to local residents which has heavily inspired part of the play’s storyline.
In Motion Theatre has partnered with community food hubs, larders, foodbanks, community lunches and schools across the tour, including the Roundhouse Community Café (Dundee), Letham for All (Perth), Recovery Café (Dunoon), Peoplehood (Buckie) and Active and Creative Communities North Lanarkshire Council (Moodiesburn). The partners will deliver a set of cooking workshops in advance of the play helping participants explore ways of cooking using food waste and eating healthily on a budget. On the day of the show, workshop participants will prepare a meal for audience members, who will sit down to eat and watch the play unfold in front of them.
The theatre company has also teamed up with local secondary schools with journalism workshops being delivered to pupils by local journalists ahead of each tour stop off. Schools will attend The Other Side of The River with pupils writing a post show piece which will then be published on In Motion and OneRen’s website to encourage careers in writing and journalism, just like Beth’s.
Playwright, producer and director Lisa Nicoll said: “The friendships and relationships I have gained in Ferguslie Park have allowed me to write the play that I wanted to write and the support of people there has been amazing and generous.
“There is no doubt that there are struggles and obstacles in life and in communities but it is about the attitude and resilience communities have to overcome these and how people pull together and make use of what they have. This is especially reflective with the current cost of living crisis and the things that Ferguslie Park are doing to help people in terms of food, clothing, activities and warm spaces
“I have been attending community lunches and going to warm spaces across Scotland to get to know folk at the venues and towns we’re visiting. There is a real sense of universality in the play’s themes in how the communities across Scotland connect to both Ferguslie Park and the play. There’s also a strong sense of gathering in these towns and that has always been the aim of the play – it’s not just a theatre show but an experience with bingo, food and song, three things in addition to theatre that can bring us together.
“We are living in a world highly dominated by technology and social media and being embraced by these communities makes you realise that as human beings we need to speak, hug and listen to people in the flesh. This play began life before the current cost of living crisis and feels more apt than ever that it is being staged now. The Other Side of the River is a play to gather people together, to see positives amongst adversities and to take eyes away from screens, even for just a short while.”
Terry McTernan, Darkwood Crew, Ferguslie Park, who has been closely involved with the project, said: “Working in partnership with In Motion Theatre Company has really helped in the personal and collective empowerment of local people, helping change the often negative narrative about Ferguslie Park. Against a backdrop of a cost of living crisis and a climate change emergency, many positive lessons can be learned from a vibrant, active, self aware, thrifty and more importantly caring community like ours. The play captures all of the nuances associated with the positive cultural aspects of Ferguslie Park and is a fitting next step in our regenerational journey.”
Head of Marketing and Communications at Renfrewshire Council and Future Paisley Lead, Louisa Mahon, said: “We know that negative statistics about a place rarely capture the true story and experiences of the communities that live there. Through Future Paisley’s investment of In Motion Theatre’s The Other Side of the River we want to help change the narrative and perceptions of Ferguslie Park and communities like it across the country. Projects like this play a valuable role in creating an increased sense of civic pride and help to improve the wellbeing of the communities who take part.”
Future Paisley is a cultural regeneration, partnership programme which uses the power of arts, heritage and culture to impact social and economic change. It combines targeted investment in cultural activity as well as influencing change through innovative models of best practice which can be used as a blueprint for other areas.
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