OPINION: Our Gate is a play made by the town, for the town - David Bown, Harrogate Theatre
The big news this week at Harrogate Theatre is the launch of our new Our Gate production by local writer Rachael Halliwell.
This is a dynamic and immersive play which will flow through Oxford Street and the surrounding area.
Amie Burns Walker (immersive specialist and one of the creators of The Great Gatsby) will be directing, and Our Gate Radio and The Spa Collective podcast supported by Harrogate Community Radio have blurred the pre-narrative lines between fiction and reality.
The show will engage and amplify local voices and showcase the immense musical talent of the town.
Supported by ACE in both R&D and into full production, Our Gate works directly with a combined intergenerational community and a local professional cast.
It’s a play which has been made by the town, for the town and with the community at its core.
After years of being a creative associate of Harrogate Theatre, the theatre commissioned Rachael to write an epic large-scale community play.
Rachael’s focus naturally settled on water as it’s such a key part of the town’s identity.
Our Gate is a unique, live, interactive experience where the audience are immersed within the performance.
The show is informed by true events in that it explores the divisions that have arisen over recent years with Brexit and local environmental issues - what happens when people are faced with a yes or no decision, and the unrest that can cause.
In Our Gate the characters know the audience are there and are invited as ‘residents of Harrogate’ to have their say on plans for a fictional new project by H2Flow.
From the initial idea through to the drafting stages, Rachael’s vision was informed and evolved from the workshops that the community cast, youth theatre and professional company have been involved with since the beginning of the year - supported by our very talented dramaturg Serena Manteghi.
All members of the cast are treated equally, and Rachael has been writing for the actors, with the characters’ voices running through her head on each new draft.
We really hope to empower audiences with the opportunity to experience theatre in a new way that blurs fiction and reality.
Our Gate gives them a chance to actively become a unique part of the story.
Working with a community cast has been the most rewarding and inspiring process we have ever been involved in.