Town Plays

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Town Plays' page

Photo:Does anyone recognise themselves?

Does anyone recognise themselves?

North Laine residents show off their acting talents

By Peter Crowhurst, North Laine resident

I found these photos recently whilst rummaging around at home. I believe they are of a play that some (Tidy Street?) residents performed in the town many years ago. Can anyone shed any light on them?

This page was added on 06/06/2008.

These photos were taken in May 1987. As part of the Brighton Festival of that year community groups were invited to put on street plays related in some way to the life of Brighton. The idea was based on the traditional medieval cycle of York Mystery Plays, when various trades and guilds would trundle carts around the streets from which to perform plays based on biblical stories.

About 20 community groups responded to the invitation from Brighton Festival, ranging from councillors and council staff to local schools, disadvantaged groups (eg deaf, blind, people with learning difficulties), pressure groups such as Amnesty International, clubs and societies etc. The North Laine Community Association (NLCA) was one of the groups that agreed to put on a play.

The plays were performed sequentially for eight hours in four different venues round The Lanes area on two Sundays during the 1987 Festival. The NLCA play, called 'Tidy Street', was researched and written by Tim Curran and most of the cast actually lived in Tidy Street. At least four of them are still North Laine residents today (2009).

The set for the NLCA play was No 2 Tidy Street as it would have been in 1851. At that time the Census listed eight people as living at No 2 and the house was a greengrocery. The play aimed to give some idea of what kind of life these real people would have lived at that time, how they earned their living, and the sort of problems they would have faced in their daily lives. There were many references to real streets, pubs and buildings that existed then but which have long since disappeared.

A huge amount of effort was put into building the set, making costumes, and gathering props. ITV featured the NLCA play in an 'Artbeat' programme. The Town Plays were an original and highly successful part of the community programme for this particular Brighton Festival.

By Jackie Fuller, North Laine resident
On 04/10/2009

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