BBC News

Actors take travellers for a ride at Bradford station

By Ian Youngs
Arts reporter

image copyrightTracey Welch
image captionBradford-based Freedom Studios specialises in staging shows in unusual locations

Travellers at Bradford's main train and bus station will see drama all around them this week, as actors perform a new play in various parts of the building, including the ladies' toilets.

The cast will lead audience members around the city's Interchange to watch the show, titled Brief Encounters.

It features five short stories about people who meet in the station.

During rehearsals, some unsuspecting members of the public have attempted to intervene during dramatic scenes.

"We've already had people coming up and trying to intercede to protect whoever they perceive is the underdog in the scene," director Tom Wright said.

"[Passers-by] will come in and go: 'Why are you being so mean to her? What's going on here?'

"And then the stage manager and the assistant director and I, who've been lurking nearby, have to come up and say: 'Oh, terribly sorry, here's a flyer.'"

Each scene in Brief Encounters, staged by Bradford-based theatre company Freedom Studios, takes place in a different location. The audience will watch in groups of 12.

Of the scene in the ladies' toilets, the director said: "For half of our audience it will be an anti-climax because they go in there anyway.

'Trip into the unknown'

"And the other half, the male half, will go: 'Ooh, an exciting trip into the unknown. It's much more pink than I'd anticipated!'"

Real travellers who need to use the conveniences will be directed to an alternative set of toilets.

"For the duration of us performing they're going to send passengers to that [set] so we don't have to contend with people using the lavatories while we're doing the scene," the director explained. "That would be quite off-putting."

The play was written by BBC Radio Sheffield journalist Rav Sanghera for Freedom Studios, which specialises in staging shows in unusual locations.

Wright said: "We do two things - we look at what happens when different communities meet, and we like making theatre for people who don't normally go to the theatre, which means we don't normally do it in a theatre."

Bus station manager Sam Jackson welcomed the idea and said Sanghera had got the stories "about right".

He said: "It's everyday things that could happen - and probably have happened - in our bus station."

Mr Jackson, who is retiring this week after more than 30 years, said: "Hopefully we will demonstrate that the bus station is part of the community.

"It's a normal place - bus stations tend to get a bad name but we'd like to think our bus station is not like that. I'm really looking forward to this."

Brief Encounters at Bradford Interchange runs from Monday 6 to Saturday 10 October.

Related Topics

  • Theatre
  • Bradford