Vickie Beesley on Homeward Bound, Articulate's reality TV inspired show
Audience control in impro theatre inspired by Dutch reality TV show
At first I found the idea of pitting refused asylum seekers against each other quite awful but the more I watched and read about the show the more I thought it was a great way of raising awareness of the problems these people were facing. Having arrived in the Netherlands as children, they considered themselves Dutch, were well integrated into Dutch culture and society and were now being returned to another country they had very little experience of or connection with.
It seemed to make sense to use the form of a game show for a piece of theatre. Game shows are already quite theatrical – the tension they build, the characters that host, judge and compete in them, the stories the contestants tell. What is particularly fun is that they also use a level of kitsch and hyperbole that a more conventional drama couldn’t get away with and I’m still having a lot of fun playing with that.
I wrote a 15-minute Scratch of Homeward Bound that was performed at the Pleasance Theatre, London, in January this year. The audience had the power to choose who won the show and it went down well but I wanted the audience to have more control. So, we reworked the piece and it is now largely improvised. The audience votes throughout the show; they are in direct competition with the contestants and in complete control of the outcome – they don’t know what’s going to happen and neither do we.
I have also been working with seven women from refugee backgrounds who will be leading three unique tours of Glasgow during Refugee Week. Each tour will run twice during Refugee Week and the tour leaders will share facts about Glasgow’s history and culture as well as personal experiences of the city and memories of home. The tours are less traditional than your usual walking tour; they’re about bringing people from different cultures together to walk, talk and share.
Homeward Bound, Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Fri 22 & Sat 23 Jun.
My Glasgow: Walking Tours, Sun 17–Sat 23 Jun. Details about the routes from www.scottishrefugeecouncil.org.uk/walkingtours.