Features Published 29 October 2018

Calling All Fans

Newcastle-based theatre company The Six Twenty want your stories of music fandom.
Melanie Rashbrooke

‘Fans’ by The Six Twenty

Has a gig or album changed your life?

Have you done anything extreme to see your favourite band?

Could you imagine a life without music?

I’m the Artistic Director of The Six Twenty, a Newcastle based theatre company, that makes fun, heart-thumping, immersive theatre that should be enjoyed at maximum volume. This isn’t sit down, shut up theatre; it’s theatre for a good night out with a gaggle of mates. A place where you’re encouraged to dance and socialise, and you don’t have to switch off your phones.

Our latest show Fans is a love letter to music fans. It’s a collaboration with North East-based playwright Nina Berry that’s been inspired by real music fan stories that we’ve collated from across the North East and UK.

When we originally developed the idea for Fans, back in 2016, we came together over a shared passion for music and telling honest, real, heartfelt stories. We wanted to create an immersive gig theatre show about what it means to be a fan of music, exploring how music shapes us and can create bonds that are lifelong. And, above all, we wanted to create a fun night out with all the trappings of your favourite gigs. Everything from crowd-surfing your way to the front of the barrier, wristbands on entry, confetti drops, glow sticks and set lists that are handed out at the end of the show.

When we were originally creating the show, we issued a call-out for music fan confessions and were overwhelmed by the response we received. Over the past couple of years, we’ve collected hundreds of stories and audio clips from music fans.

We’ve heard all sorts of amazing, funny and heart-breaking stories; from the emo who didn’t feel like they fitted in at school until they discovered My Chemical Romance; the punk whose shoes were stolen at a Sex Pistols gig; to the Maccabees fan who used their student loan to fly to New York to see them live, to the countless teenagers who’ve pushed themselves up against bedroom doors to stop their parents from coming in whilst they we’re listening to a band that they didn’t approve of.

Fans is the story of a band who can’t figure out what their sound should be, and are struggling to come up with a name. The characters of the four band mates (Chris, Charlie, Meghan and Andrew) are directly inspired by the real music fan memories we’ve collected. These heartfelt confessions have been beautifully interwoven into the narrative of the play by Nina. Here you’ll meet Chris (the lead guitarist) who is completely obsessed with Green Day and all things punk, Charlie (the lead singer) the pop princess who idolises Madonna, Andrew (the peacekeeping drummer) who loves cult bands and ambient music and Meghan (the bassist with mystique) who has an insane musical knowledge and can’t quite make up her mind about what band or genre of music she likes best. Each of these characters have been shaped by the fans we’ve met, and we hope the show will speak to music lovers, regardless of the genre that you’re into.

Fans is a living show and we’re continually adding new stories to the mix. As this is the first time we’ve toured the show to London we’re really excited to hear stories from fans that are living in and around London. So, look under your bed, check your attic and dig out your favourite bits of music memorabilia and share them with us and your fellow music fans.

Have you ever pushed your way to the front of the barrier? Bought tickets to a gig and wondered how you’ll pay for them later? Got ‘that’ lyric tattooed on your body? Snuck out in the middle of the night to see your favourite band? Whether you’re into punk, pop, indie, hip hop or anything in between we’d love to hear from you.

There’s a number of ways that you can get involved and be part of the show. You can join us at a performance and share your stories with us pre or post show and add your confessions to our travelling listening booth installation. You can also take part virtually by adding your story online to our Museum of Music Fandom. Here you can upload your stories, photos, teenage lyrics, diaries, band recordings and bootleg clips to our ever-growing museum. Or, if you’d rather, you can drop us a message on fans@thesixtwenty.com.

Anything you share with us could be featured as part of the show’s soundscape, or in one of the listening booths that travels with the show on its national tour. We can’t wait to hear your stories.

Fans is touring to London this week, playing Canada Water Theatre (Fri Nov 2) and Theatre N16 (Wed Nov 7 & Thu Nov) 8. It also plays The Peacock, Sunderland on Nov 16.

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Melanie Rashbrooke

Melanie Rashbrooke is artistic director of The Six Twenty. More info on the company at http://thesixtwenty.com/

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