We went to the immersive theatre adventure called Our Gate tonight. I hope to give my knuckle-dragger’s opinion on the matter, but there is a back-story.

As part of the local radio, we have been broadcasting the prodigal Jack Sinclair and the Our Gate podcast. I can now spoil the ruse in that the Podcast was the introduction to the theatre performance; the podcast was like watching the Extras in a DVD before you watch the feature film. It set the scene and introduced the characters.

The standard of these podcasts was exceptional; the production was fantastic, only rivalled by Jack’s presentation skills and the acting of the community cast.

And, that is what this show was; a professionally led community cast in what was to be my first attendance of an immersive production. But, I was unsure of what an immersive performance was – I thought I knew what theatre was. It was where you have to pay a lot of money, wear uncomfortable clothes and sit in a chair as a stranger then shouts at you for two hours. Standard.

I rocked up in Sport Shorts and a band hoody tonight. For fashion tips follow me on The Grams.

Being an immersive production it felt like I was a member of an uncredited cast. See, as soon as my foot touched the blue entrance carpet I had to adopt a persona agreed on at the gates.

I small talked with the cast members and this was part of the performance. The play / adventure was unfurling around me in the flesh – I felt…. unnerved.

Due to Covid I was a bit wary. You have heard of jumping in the deep end – but off the ten foot board? This was the first time I had really been out in two years and I was a bit overwhelmed to be surrounded by well meaning, well intentioned cast members.

What did I take away from the performance / adventure?

Due to the role I had to impersonate, I had to see Harrogate in a new light. I had to see what was for sale in the town and treat the town and its assets as a commodity, the citizens as collateral. I felt massively uncomfortable at this. To heighten this sense of un-comfort, in character I had to lie to a mother about the location of her lost child.

Basic morals and scruples were held in a new light. I would not get on a high horse and say I was one with my character” but it did make me question my ethics and direction…

As a result, this theatre production made me question my value in society as a creative facilitator – it has given me something to kick back on. I have more determination to help folk with their creativity. Not to be a midwife to false ambition, but to nurture people to make a creative stand.

It has given me renewed vigour with HCR as I have seen first hand how much people get out of the station – as I say, we started broadcasting and went in to Lock Down a few months later. Me, Allan & Scooby set the station up to help with this sort of thing. I admit the tears rolling down my face as I type this herald that it is time for my medicine more than a creative epiphany. But, tonight, I learnt a lot about the town I love. I learnt a lot about myself and my motivation and I learnt that I love the Theatre.

Andrew

Andrew Backhouse is a Yorkshire-based artist working with time-based media and digital collage. He is a self-confessed radio geek and he hopes to share his wonder. He also wants to share his naivety and enthusiasm for finding something interesting. Henri Chopin, AGF, and RuPaul influence Andrew’s artistic enquiry. Documenting “The new shiny thing,” Andrew tries to share his excitement for it. But, he also asks about its authenticity and worth.

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