We went to the immersive theatre adventure called Our Gate tonight. I hope to give my knuckle-dragger’s opinion on the matter, but there is a back-story.

As part of the local radio, we have been broadcasting the prodigal Jack Sinclair and the Our Gate podcast. I can now spoil the ruse in that the Podcast was the introduction to the theatre performance; the podcast was like watching the Extras in a DVD before you watch the feature film. It set the scene and introduced the characters.

The standard of these podcasts was exceptional; the production was fantastic, only rivalled by Jack’s presentation skills and the acting of the community cast.

And, that is what this show was; a professionally led community cast in what was to be my first attendance of an immersive production. But, I was unsure of what an immersive performance was – I thought I knew what theatre was. It was where you have to pay a lot of money, wear uncomfortable clothes and sit in a chair as a stranger then shouts at you for two hours. Standard.

I rocked up in Sport Shorts and a band hoody tonight. For fashion tips follow me on The Grams.

Being an immersive production it felt like I was a member of an uncredited cast. See, as soon as my foot touched the blue entrance carpet I had to adopt a persona agreed on at the gates.

I small talked with the cast members and this was part of the performance. The play / adventure was unfurling around me in the flesh – I felt…. unnerved.

Due to Covid I was a bit wary. You have heard of jumping in the deep end – but off the ten foot board? This was the first time I had really been out in two years and I was a bit overwhelmed to be surrounded by well meaning, well intentioned cast members.

What did I take away from the performance / adventure?

Due to the role I had to impersonate, I had to see Harrogate in a new light. I had to see what was for sale in the town and treat the town and its assets as a commodity, the citizens as collateral. I felt massively uncomfortable at this. To heighten this sense of un-comfort, in character I had to lie to a mother about the location of her lost child.

Basic morals and scruples were held in a new light. I would not get on a high horse and say I was “one with my character” but it did make me question my ethics and direction…

As a result, this theatre production made me question my value in society as a creative facilitator – it has given me something to kick back on. I have more determination to help folk with their creativity. Not to be a midwife to false ambition, but to nurture people to make a creative stand.

It has given me renewed vigour with HCR as I have seen first hand how much people get out of the station – as I say, we started broadcasting and went in to Lock Down a few months later. Me, Allan & Scooby set the station up to help with this sort of thing. I admit the tears rolling down my face as I type this herald that it is time for my medicine more than a creative epiphany. But, tonight, I learnt a lot about the town I love. I learnt a lot about myself and my motivation and I learnt that I love the Theatre.

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