Taking theatre to the hotel rooms of Belfast, Prime Cut bring the experimental play Scarborough to Belfast with the help of the Ramada Encore
'With OMAC closed there is no natural home for independent theatre in Belfast,’ comments Prime Cut creative producer and director Emma Jordan. ‘And when you don’t have a home to produce your work you start to become more inventive and creative.’
Scarborough, a play by English playwright Fiona Evans, explores the relationship between two illicit lovers over the passage of a weekend that takes their relationship from illegal to merely inappropriate.
With a cast of two and a seating capacity for only 12 audience members, it is the definition of a small, intimate play. Originally it was set in a Scarborough B&B, but for the duration of its Belfast run it will be performed in the Ramada Encore in St Anne’s Square.
It might have been necessity that led Prime Cut to stage a production in a hotel, but Jordan believes they can make a virtue out of it. ‘It’s an opportunity to see how tapping into arts and culture can expand your profile and help make you stand out of the corporate world,’ Jordon says. ‘They bring a lot to the table, but so do we.’
Staging a play in the Ramada, in St Anne's Square, will help draw punters to the retail centre for the first time, argues Jordon, and also firmly align the Ramada with the artistic and cultural life of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival.
Jordan thinks that this is also a perfect opportunity to appeal to an audience outside of traditional theatergoers.
‘To go and see this piece takes a level of risk-taking on behalf of the audience to set themselves up for an experience they’ve never had before. I hope that non-theatre goers will be interested in seeing theatre outside of its usual context.’
Not that it's just the setting that makes this piece of theatre challenging and even controversial. It is about an affair between a teacher and a 15, nearly 16, year old student. Jordan describes it as going ‘behind the tabloid headlines’.
The play is in two acts, which correspond to two rooms. Divided into two groups of six the audience each watch one act, then switch rooms and watch the second.
Jordan is coy about exactly what occurs in each room - ‘I don’t know if I want to give the story away' - but does say that audience opinion about the play seems to split down gender lines.
‘It’s about why inappropriate relationships happen and why they are inappropriate,’ she says. 'There isn’t a one size fits all reaction to the piece, but gender plays a major role in how people respond.’
Interest in this production of Scarborough has been high and Jordan is eager to see how Belfast audiences react to such an intimate piece of theatre. She admits that she has no idea how it is going to go on the first night. ‘The actors are absolutely terrified!’ Jordan says. ‘And probably rightfully so.’
Scarborough is playing at the Ramada Encore from April 29 to May 9 as part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival.