‘Any Mother Would’ hits the Great Yorkshire Fringe.
‘The simplest stories are still the strongest’ say Matt Harper-Hardcastle from theatre company, Next Door But One. He wrote his latest piece Any Mother Would in 2013 as an antidote to the fast paced, high tech productions, with bassy underscores and content that was epic and aimed to shock. ‘I felt like theatre was losing it’s ability to tell a good story’ says Matt, ‘so I wrote what I knew; the story I always go back to telling – the story of my family’. The play didn’t progress past it being a script until 2016, when Matt’s mum was diagnosed with an extremely rare and aggressive cancer which took her life only 5 months later. The first version of Any Mother Would was created in homage to his mother – to celebrate her life and to be used as a fundraiser for Cancer Research UK. However, Matt and the theatre company were surprised by the reactions that followed – many audience members saw their own family dynamics within the play, parents with children who have disabilities felt their stories were being told, even the though the play doesn’t deal with loss and death, audience members commented on how it made them reflect on family members they cherish, but are no longer with them. This seemingly simple story was being received in so many different ways.
Because of this, Any Mother Would has been showcased as part of York’s Disability Pride and has seen the theatre company successfully obtain funding from Two Ridings Community Foundation to run Good Grief - a 6 month programme of participatory arts workshops for those with recent experiences of loss and bereavement to explore their own stories. ‘I guess I found it useful and cathartic to talk about my mum within theatre. It gave me a new framework and vocabulary, so we wanted to give other people that opportunity too’, says Matt. Good Grief has been running with Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust’s Open Shop, at York St John University, with St Leonard’s Hospice as part of York’s Dead Good Festival and with York Carers Centre.
The project will be coming full circle, by returning to another performance of Any Mother Would as part of the Great Yorkshire Fringe. Next Door But One are looking forward to bringing their story to new audiences in the hope that those who come to watch will see and hear part of their own stories too. Who knows what parallels will be drawn this time.
Any Mother Would will be performed at The Basement on Sunday 22nd July at 2.30pm. Tickets are £10 and £8 and can be booked through www.greatyorkshirefringe.com or 01904 500600Buy Tickets