Monday morning found me getting off my usual bus stop and walking straight past my office, all the way to HOME to interview two cast members of their new show, in partnership with ANU Productions, called On Corporation Street.
Back in June 1996 - on the 15th to be exact - the city of Manchester was shaken to the core by the largest bomb to ever be detonated on mainland Britain. Right in the heart of the city centre, a 1,500 kg bomb was set off on Corporation Street by the Provisional IRA which injured 212 people but remarkably killed no one. Now, 20 years later, ANU Productions & HOME have partnered up to honour the day and the memories of those who were affected by the unfortunate event as part of ANU's triptych project that shines a light on some radical British and Irish historical events; the other two shows honour centenary of the Easter Rising in Ireland.
ANU Productions is known for creating award-winning site-specific performances that bring historical events to the present in invigorating ways, leaving the audience forever changed. Those of you who were lucky enough to grab hold of a ticket to see Angel Meadows when it was on have already had a taste for what ANU has to offer. I, unfortunately, was one of those who got told kindly by the HOME box office that the tickets had sold out and so when an opportunity arose to quiz a couple of the cast for On Corporation Street, I took it without hesitation.
At 9.30 am on a sunny Monday morning, actresses Úna Kavanagh (Fair City; The Good Word; Keys to the City) and Yusra Warsama (The Last Days on Mars; The Journey is the Destination; Critical), who both had such a welcoming demeanour, kindly let me in on a few things to expect from On Corporation Street directed by Louise Lowe. They were quick to tell me that the piece is not a reenactment of what happened but rather an interpretation of the memories and testimonies from the general public about the day. The performance will not be restricted to the stage, rather it will be held all around HOME as emotional and physical engagement with the audience is as important as the stories they are trying to tell. With 14 cast members - seven from Manchester and seven from Ireland - the incident that reshaped the lives of many and the city of Manchester will be addressed, leaving the audience to decide where they stand. And as rehearsals are ongoing and the show is still being refined, Yusra's apt summary of what to expect from On Corporation Street was perfectly devoid of spoilers.
With new footage of the aftermath of that fateful day having been made available earlier this year and the 15th of June just round the corner, HOME & ANU have created another chance to learn more about the 1996 IRA bombing in Manchester. From the 10th - 25th of June, On Corporation Street will be open for all all to see. You can book your tickets here.