It will be a truly moving theatre experience – and a star attraction at this year’s Batley Festival (September 8 to 10).
Audiences of the show Rear View, by Halifax-based IOU Theatre, will find themselves on board a specially-adapted bus and being transported to unexpected locations in a 70-minute multi-sensory magical mystery tour.
The ‘scenery’ will be Batley itself, while the performers, poets Cecilia Knapp and Jemima Foxtrot promise interactive experience and storytelling with a lively sound score and digital projections. It’s best described as a mind-illuminating ride that asks the question ‘If at 65 you could say something to yourself at 23, what would it be?’
Members of the audience will wear sound positional headphones, currently being developed by the theatre company in partnership with York University’s Digital Creativity Hub, which provide audio both in real time and with an imaginary soundscape.
The mobile auditorium, an open-top double-decker with backward-facing seats arranged in tiers, is making its only 2017 appearance in Yorkshire for the annual festival.
David Wheeler, artistic director of IOU, explains the concept: “The bus was designed so we can do theatre shows in any location. We use the city or town as a backdrop for the show. The idea is a way of taking audiences to unexpected or unusual locations for performances as well as enjoying the journey as part of the experience.”
The bus is a 1989 Volvo B10M mid-engined city bus and was re-built by Calderdale Engineering, Martin Pickwell and Peter Arnold, with support and advice from First Bus and funding from the Arts Council. It travels to events and festivals across the country and is being brought to Batley by the North Kirklees arts project Creative Scene.
There are regular Rear View performances, departing Batley Library and Art Gallery, from 10am until 5.30pm on Friday, September 8; 11.30am until 5.30pm on Saturday, September 9, and 11am until 3.30pm on Sunday, September 10. Tickets at £4 for adults and £2 for children (recommended for ages over 11) are available from creativescene.org.uk/events.
Other events at Batley Festival begin at 11am and end at around 5pm. There’s live music on an outdoor main stage; more than 40 market stalls to be found in the Market Place; performances, arts and activities in the Memorial Gardens, and an open air cafe for those in need of refreshments.