Hull Truck at Spring Street
Keep on Truck-in'
By Blast Reporter Charli Hill
In February, Hull Truck Theatre will close its Spring Street doors for good. Associate Director Nick Lane talks about their upcoming final season at the legendary venue, the new building and its toilet cubicles.
Hull Truck Theatre have been based at their Spring Street venue since 1983, but with the recent redevelopment of the Ferensway area comes a new £14.5 million home for the company.
Nick Lane has been the associate director of Hull Truck since 2006 but his connections with the company go back as far as 1987 when he appeared in their production of Oliver Twist. Nowadays his role is more behind-the-scenes, supporting joint artistic directors John Godber and Gareth Tudor-Price, helping to pick the plays that they put on and also running courses for aspiring writers.
A performance of 'Going Dutch' in Hull
He says that the prospect of the final season is, "really strange. There's a great deal of excitement about the new building, a great deal of uncertainty, but an optimistic uncertainty as opposed to 'we should never have done this'! At the same time, I think that's quite healthy because there's going to be quite an emotional outpouring when this place finally closes. For me actually when it closes it won't be that bad but when the diggers come in and knock it down, that'll be the thing for me. When you see that it isn't there anymore."
He goes on to explain that the company has played a huge part in many people's lives, and that he himself has more than half his life associated with it. "I think that's meant that we're focusing on making this season the best it can be."
Choosing the plays
Nick notes that all but one of the plays this year are retrospective. Hull Truck are beginning with Teechers, John Godber's 1987 play which Nick describes as "timeless, as a lot of John's plays are."
Teechers in rehearsal
The second play is Nick's own, My Favourite Summer. "It's relatively new. It was done at the beginning of last year but I'm chuffed they're bringing it back." This is to be followed by another recent outing, Ladies Down Under and two Christmas productions. One of these is a children's show penned by Nick and the other is by Gordon Steel who has been associated with Hull Truck for more than 10 years.
The final show at Spring Street will be Godber's Bouncers, which celebrated it's 30th anniversary last year. As the play most associated with the company, Nick states that "it would be stupid not to".
Nick explains that as far back as 2006, he was involved in discussions about the upcoming season and whether they should continue their commitment to breaking new writers or to look back at their successes. "I think we've gone for a happy medium. There's one brand new thing, two relatively new things, two stonewall classics and a good quality Christmas show."
The new building
When asked about the show that will open the new venue, Nick says that it will be a brand new play by John Godber. "John's playing his cards very close to his chest. All he will say is that he's thinking there's going to be music in it." Full of admiration for his colleague and friend, Nick firmly believes that "his best is yet to come, and it might well happen with the opening of the new building."
Artist's impression of the new theatre
The actual building isn't yet finished, with £500,000 still to be raised for equipment and furnishings. At the helm of their fundraising activities comes an innovative scheme entitled the 'Toilet Door Campaign', in which celebrities can buy a toilet cubicle in the new building. So far, Alan Carr, Phill Jupitus and David Baddiel have all signed up. "It seems to have captured the imagination. I don't know whether that means if they ever visit the theatre they officially have to use their toilet or can deny access to anybody unsavoury looking!"
The move to the new building will hopefully bring in fresh audiences, as well as offer more opportunities to become involved in the arts. As part of the building, the studio will offer a second, smaller performance area and Nick hopes that this will provide "a great experimental space".
It is also hoped that more young people will take advantage of having access to regional theatre as Nick believes it offers the opportunity "to think and to dream. There's something about drama and theatre, the immediacy of it, that if it's good, it'll inspire and stimulate you. It'll make you want to do something yourself or at least open your mind to all kinds of possibilities."
If you're interested in getting involved in the theatre, be it behind-the-scenes or performing on stage, there are plenty of ways you can do it. Nick refers to stage management and production as the 'engine room' of theatre. "You can get that from drama groups or youth theatres." Hull Truck has its own youth theatre company which currently produces two shows a year, although with the new studio it is hoped that this will become three.
Hull Truck's Youth Company
Nick also outlines his hopes to start a writing course for 13-18 year olds which will give the company the chance to harness the talents and voices of a younger generation. "It will be interesting to see if kids can give a sense of what they want and what engages them. If there are kids out there with a dramatic sensibility, hopefully once we get this set up we'll be able to bring them in."
last updated: 10/09/2008 at 10:55