10 years in the making: Immersive ‘gig-theatre’ production coming to Northampton’s The Picturedrome

It is giving a spotlight to young talent

Tuesday, 5th July 2022, 10:15 am

An immersive gig-theatre production, which is the director’s ten-year passion project, will be coming to Northampton this year.

Song of the Summer, which will be shown from August 11-21, is a co-production between the Royal & Derngate and the Cherwell Theatre Company.

It is the ten-year passion project of writer and director Tristan Jackson-Pate, the artistic director of Cherwell Theatre Company.

Immersive ‘gig-theatre’ production coming Northampton’s The Picturedrome.

He said: “This is the biggest thing we’ve done and it’s been a labour of love.

“Forming a partnership with the Derngate has been a dream come true.”

The narrative is inspired by Tristan’s experiences of being a 17-year-old in Northampton’s vibrant music scene in the mid-2000s.

“I hope the show will capture the endless excitement and possibility I faced,” said Tristan. “I was inspired by many local bands and performing at venues was character forming.

The production has been the 10-year passion project of director and writer, Tristan Jackson-Pate, pictured.

“I found my friends, confidence and a purpose that made sense.”

He then went on to train as an actor, and is delighted to be able to combine both his passions – music and theatre – in this production.

Talking about the venue, Tristan added: “I always thought I made it when I performed at The Picturedrome, so this feels like a full circle moment.”

Not only is this production showcasing the newly popular ‘gig-theatre’, it is also giving a stage to young talent.

The storyline was inspired by director and writer Tristan Jackson-Pate's experience of the Northampton music scene as a 17-year-old in the mid-2000s.

Chris D’Alessio, co-owner of The Picturedrome said: “We loved the idea of promoting and supporting young people in the creative arts business as they are the future of the industry.”

The cast was recently announced and taking on the role of Max is Olivia Bennett, and she “blew [the director’s] socks off”.

Twenty-year-old Olivia, who described her character as “the female version of Ringo Starr”, said: “I was so excited to be cast in the role because I felt connected to it and could relate.

“I knew I could bring out the cool side in her and I’m glad I’ve got the chance.

“It’s great this production is giving young performers like myself a chance.”

Originally from Essex, Olivia is moving to Northampton ahead of rehearsals starting on July 11 – and this is the first time she is moving away for an acting job.

“It’s scary but I’m looking forward to the move and the sense of independence,” she said.

Bringing young people together with professionals has been a key part in developing Song of the Summer.

A lot of young people have also been involved in the show’s research, which began four years ago.

The support from young talent in making this a success, along with the help of the Royal & Derngate in establishing partnerships and raising funding, has made Tristan “pinch himself”.

Unlike what typically happens, “immersive” gig-theatre allows audience members to move around as different scenes happen in different parts of the venue – such as by the bar and on the staircase.

Talking about getting the ball rolling with rehearsals as the first show is next month, Tristan said: “It’s unreal. I can’t quite believe it’s happening.

“This is the most personal passion project I’ve ever made and it’s had the involvement of so many people.

“Gig-theatre is a new concept and I’ve never seen anything like this on stage."

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