This Friday and Saturday are the last two days of our pioneering pop-up theatre venue, Outpost. This celebration of local work will be brought to a fitting end by New Model Theatre’s own production, Parliament Town. Here, Tom Nicholas, writer of Parliament Town and Artistic Director of New Model Theatre, tells us the story of Parliament Town…
In 2013, Paines Plough and Theatre Royal Plymouth asked five local writers to write a short, ten minute play about their relationship with Plymouth. I was one of those writers and, for my piece, chose to explore Plymouth’s role in the English Civil War.
At the beginning of the Civil War, Plymouth declared itself to be very strongly in support of Parliament – a sentiment the rest of the South West seemed to very much disagree with. For three years Plymouth stood alone, the people of the town defending themselves against the royalist forces.
A Plymouth cut off from the rest of the country didn’t seem too distant to me, I think it’s probably been that way ever since. Growing up in the city it certainly felt as though the shadows of the city walls still did a good job of keeping the city under siege.
So I fused these two ideas together – a young man in 2013, feeling cut off from the rest of the world and a young man in 1643, standing guard at Lipson Fort.
This very early draft of what would eventually become Parliament Town was then kept in a draw while we were busy touring Static, but the idea never really left my head. The Civil War is a huge moment in Plymouth’s history and one that felt as though it needed to be told.
Earlier this year, Dan Baker, Matt Hall, Beth Shouler and myself took over the City Gate Hotel in Exeter for three days during Exeter’s Ignite Festival and, as part of this, I approached Plymouth actor Liam Salmon to see if he fancied working on the show with me. He said yes and we spent an intense five days taking the show from some scribblings on a piece of paper into a living, breathing play. The show opened to a packed house in Exeter and it seemed only natural to continue working on the show, including an outing at Theatre Royal Plymouth’s Forge season.
We’ve been lucky enough, as part of Outpost, to have two weeks to further develop the show and are really pleased with where it’s ended up. We hope that what we’ve created is a fitting and heartfelt ode to the city we both call home. At the heart of it is a folk tale of Plymouth and an encapsulation of the spirit of the city.
We’d love it if you’d join us on Friday or Saturday evening from 7.45pm to celebrate the end of Outpost and to share this story with us.
Tickets are £8/£5 concessions and available through the Barbican Theate Box Office from 01752 267131 or www.barbicantheatre.co.uk/outpost. If you ring up you’re able to reserve tickets and pay on the door, saving yourself the £1.50 booking fee. Saturday is currently looking rather busy and there’s lots of availability for Friday. Hope to see you there!