In May last year I joined a scheme called NSDF Labs. A group of 16-25 year old creatives from around the world came together to do workshops and have discussions, with the idea that maybe, just maybe, we might work together to create something to present at NSDF 21. Jump to March 2021, and five groups that were started during this process are presenting new work at this year’s festival, including myself and Lydia Crossland, aka the SCRUBBERS.
I knew Lydia was the girl for me when she mentioned in one of our Lab sessions that she has just been watching Peter Andre’s old reality series on YouTube. Since that moment not only have we become great collaborators, but also great friends, which is pretty remarkable considering I’ve never met Lydia in real life. I am based in Belfast in Northern Ireland, whereas Lydia is based in Huddersfield in the North East of England, and yet we have managed to make a brand new piece of theatre together. Zoom might be awkward and tedious, but you can’t tell me that’s not quite cool!
We have made the show through a mix of collaborative writing, chats over cups of tea and devising sessions where we would generate material. Google Docs has been our best friend during this process, with countless pages of ideas, monologues and sketches filling our Scrubbers Google Drive folder. Originally we envisaged a solo show for Lydia that was a pretty conventional piece of theatre. I had initially thought of writing two interconnected monologues set one hundred years apart (as you do), but we soon discovered that we had so many other things we wanted to explore and look at that wouldn’t be possible in that form.
I hadn’t performed in anything for nearly two years, so initially shied away from the prospect of performing, but we decided early on that actually we really enjoyed performing together, and there was a real sense of play and camaraderie when we performed as a pair. So now our show has transformed into a two person Zoom spectacular. If I were to describe it as a cocktail I would say it’s part sketch show, part pantomime, part hen do, with a generous slug of heart in there for good measure.
Our show uses drama school as a frame to interrogate bias, class and privilege within the arts, but in our own unique, slightly left field way. It is pretty remarkable how me and Lydia seem to be completely on the same page in terms of our joint knowledge of niche British pop culture, and our shared slightly strange sense of humour. I’ll say now, that a good understanding of Jane McDonald’s back catalogue is not essential for enjoying our show, but it will certainly help. Ultimately we wanted to create something that was fun, uplifting, a little bit scathing and most of all just a good time, but I guess you’ll just have to come along to our show and see for yourself…