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Gwilym’s Blog – The Assignment

May 12th, 2017

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How do we move around in our cities, and why? What are the invisible forces that influence our everyday behaviours? How do the local and the global come together in our cities? And what is urban space, and how is it produced?

These are just a few of the questions we’ve been tackling whilst making Cap-a-Pie’s latest show The Assignment. Following successful collaborations with geographer Michael Richardson (Under Us All) and Paul Cowie in Planning and Landscape (The Town Meeting), it’s been fascinating to work Matt Davies, Senior Lecturer in International Political Economy at Newcastle University. Matt’s current research looks at how major global events like the football World Cup affect local experiences of people living in the vicinity.

At the heart of The Assignment lie a number of fundamental questions about how we relate to, create, and are created by the places around us. These are issues I’ve been interested in for as long as I can remember, and it feels like a real privilege to get to work with Cap-a-Pie again, and with Matt, on a project like this.

It’s been a varied and thoroughly enjoyable rehearsal process so far. We’ve been getting out and about, playing with ideas and workshopping and testing material around the Ouseburn and along Northumberland Street in Newcastle’s city centre.

Because of the questions that Matt’s research (and the show itself) revolve around, we’ve decided to get our audience experiencing and thinking through their city on their feet. To do this, we’re making an audio piece that audience members listen to individually. During the course of the show, they will effectively be self-directing – making decisions on where to go and carrying out a number of other tasks and activities based on prompts given to them by the audio. It’s been refreshing to work with Katy and Brad in this new way, and in a form that’s new both to me and to Cap-a-Pie. The expertise and experience of Hannah Bruce has been invaluable here, as well as the guidance and support of Coney’s Artistic Director Tassos Stevens.

Ultimately, we hope that audience members attending The Assignment will be prompted to see their city in a new way, and to think again about how – and why – they produce urban space in the way they do.

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