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Ahead of One Way Ticket opening at Half Moon Theatre, acclaimed performance poet Rosemary Harris (co-writer and performer in One Way Ticket) reflects on the process of creating the show, the tour, and bringing the show to Half Moon.
One Way Ticket runs at Half Moon Theatre from 30 April to 3 May. Click here for more information and to book tickets.
Full moon reflection
Looking at last week’s full moon in the Spring sky made me think of Half Moon and how much we, the One Way Ticket cast, are looking forward to bringing the show back to what feels like its home. Next week already! Our earliest explorations and staging took place here and while we’ve been sailing around sharing the finished show on ships and by the seaside, Half Moon has revealed its sparkly new exterior. Will we recognise it now it’s now longer wrapped in plastic? And will the theatre recognise our show? which has now been shared with hundreds of audience members across the South East. When we were here last we were still at the rehearsal stage. The lovely Half Moon team loved it (or said so!) but would anybody else?
The answer has been a resounding yes, hooray , thank goodness. Nothing can quite beat that first day, when you offer up your long-and-lovingly crafted work to a full house of Y5 children, many of whom have never been to the theatre before, and you watch as they watch. They ain’t gonna lie about their responses: how terrifying. And it’s spoken word, it’s poetry, no gimmicks, no special effects, just the three of us writers and performers, (me, Justin Coe and Sophie Rose) and a script that’s been over a year in the writing, to get it right for that most challenging and honest of audiences, a bunch of ten year olds. (I say it’s just us and the script, but actually, with two venues being actual ships, it’s hard to argue we had no special effects! SS Shieldhall in Southampton, and LV21 in Gillingham, were the most fabulous and fable-like settings any show could hope for.)
We’ve had a great, memorable time on tour, but the first day, in Margate’s Tom Thumb Theatre, was real magic, as we felt the show land with children watching and listening for the very first time. As they came with us on a funny, exciting, gripping, tough, and finally redemptive journey; the true story of British children sent to Australia into such hard circumstances in the 1950s. One of the most intriguing pieces of feedback came from a child who said afterwards, ‘It was like being at home, only with a stage full of really cool people.’ We took that to mean he felt both completely at ease, and completely engaged.
Maybe because the piece is all about family, about losing and re-finding family, that it seems to strike such a chord. The eight year old in the front row at LV21, who simply turned and hugged her mother so tightly as we took our bows. She wouldn’t let her go for ages. The way people want to stay and stay afterwards and ask, Is it true? Did it really happen? Yes it is true. Yes it did happen.
And so we think most of all we think of the real people whose story it is, the British Child migrants, the thought of whom is a constant reminder to us to take this task, this show, with great seriousness of purpose. We have an important, human story to share, and sharing important stories with children, leading them through hardship, finding hope and humour, to emerge somewhere uplifting – what more satisfying thing is there in the world?
We hope you’ll come and share the trip. All aboard for One Way Ticket.
Rosemary Harris, 23.04.14