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Not just a good night out

I am a Midlands-based theatre maker, performer, programmer, general manager and events consultant. Phew. The things you have to do to to earn a living making theatre. I began a few years ago after leaving uni as a mature student and with a child of eight. I set up my own company Red Dress Theatre and took a solo piece on tour. I also joined Reaction Theatre Makers and we're currently booking our autumn tour for 2015. I feel that it is important for Worcestershire that companies such as ours drive forward into national territories to help put this part of the region on the map. Worcester has felt like a small place in the past and reaching out to others beyond this community has been essential for it to grow and stay alive to the possibilities of what can be achieved.

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A fundamental turning point for me has been my part in New Theatre in Your Neighbourhood, as a local engagement specialist in Malvern. Fuel has made me feel part of a wider community of artists and valued for my ideas, and given me the rare opportunity to explore creative ways of promoting the work coming into our neighbourhood. Fuel has brought new life into Worcestershire and some of the most inspiring, intimate and challenging theatre to new and existing audiences. It has created debates and highlighted the ongoing necessity to create not only the opportunity for great theatre to be seen, but for us all to use this as an opportunity to come together. It has made us brave, it has made me brave.

the red chairThat began two years ago with the most incredible piece of work: Zero by Clod Ensemble – the coming together of live music, story and choreography. We brought musicians to see dance, dancers to see theatre and all of us into a wonderful world of live music. What's more, we had a wild after-show party in a gothic mansion house with the cast and musicians playing until 3am. But this wasn't just a party for the cast. It was the planting of a seed that has grown here. The opportunity for audiences to come together and be a part of the experience, to join in and feel involved. To talk and laugh, discuss and feel included. This has been a part of the legacy that NTIYN has fostered.

Over the next year, our work with Fuel comes to an end, but I actually feel no sense of an ending. It is a continuation of all I have learned and experienced by attending others' work and by working with Fuel. Through the reflection on our local theatre environment they encouraged led me to want develop cultures and environments that were not only about turning up, watching and going home, but a place to feel a part of something, as this is something that we felt was lacking in this area. A welcoming environment made up of the people who are present.

Tiffany Hosking and myself 'Reaction Theatre Makers' are now programming Theatre at the community arts centre in Malvern, The Cube. Fuel are continuing to support our growth and the growth of innovative theatre in our community by bringing Clod Ensembles latest work 'The Red Chair' on June 19th at 8pm. Some of you may remember the infamous night of 'Zero' also by Clod Ensemble, an amazing piece of theatre, music and dance that seemed to bring the whole of the arts community together. Not only was it an exciting theatre experience but the after show at the Grove, gothic mansion house with audience and cast dancing to the impromptu 'Zero' blues band until the early hours made it an occasion to remember. In contrast to Clod ensembles last few multi cast pieces 'Red Chair' offers an intimate Solo performance, in Scottish dialect of a man so gluttonous that he eats himself into his chair. This dark and beautiful piece has received rave reviews and we feel very privileged to be given the opportunity to host such a prestigious company and their work. And have no doubt that their will be more to the night than theatre. You might be given a wee dram!You may want to bring your dancing feet for after the show, or just put them up in a comfy seat in the lounge bar. It may seem a little early to be expounding the virtuous of this event but it will sell out with a limited audience of a 100 seats. 'Red Chair' is at the Cube on Friday 19th June at 8pm. And like all of The work toured by Fuel audiences will be able to talk to the cast and producers. Fuel producers will also be present on this night and we aim to inspire them to bring more shows here by making it an extraordinary night out.

Michelle Pogmore

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