From Freedom Studios comes When We Were Brothers, Ben Tagoe’s intimate new play which explores male friendship, masculinity, betrayal and the fragile nature of the male psyche.
Directed by Freedom Studio’s co-artistic director Aisha Khan, When We Were Brothers will premiere at The Underground in Bradford from the 22 April – 5 May and will also be performed at the Octagon Theatre Bolton’s REVEAL Festival from 25-26 April.
“Lads don’t cry. But what if you have to? When you feel like you’re going to explode. When everything’s closing in. And you don’t even know if you can stand it anymore. What then?”
I've wanted to write a play specifically about male mental health and male friendships for a long time
“The fragile nature of masculinity is a recurring theme in a lot of my writing. However, I've wanted to write a play specifically about male mental health and male friendships for a long time. Those relationships and the brittleness of the male psyche provide the central themes of ‘When We Were Brothers’.
Since writing the play and losing a close friend to suicide, the subject of men’s mental health seems to have been talked about more and more in the media, which is a good thing. As a writer, I'd say it's something I probably find easier than most. However, as I've been writing this play, I've started asking myself just how comfortable I am about showing vulnerability myself. And the answer is I'm probably not as comfortable as I thought I was.
As I've gotten older, I've also started to realise just how common it is for men to express fear or sadness through anger or violence. I wanted to write a story about two friends who both learn to address that in themselves, but at different times and in different ways. For one of them, it’s a matter of life or death”.
The production’s cast will feature Philip D McQuillan (Jumpers for Goalposts, Paines Plough/Hull Truck/Watford Palace Theatre & The Bush Theatre and North Country, Freedom Studios) as Tommo; Levi Payne as Danny and Vanessa Pound as Julie.
When We Were Brothers is designed by Hannah Sibai (Bassett, Crucible Theatre and Home Sweet Home, Freedom Studios) with sound by Olivier Award-nominated Ed Clarke (Frankenstein, National Theatre and The Railway Children, Waterloo International Station and Roundhouse Theatre Toronto) and lighting by Keilidh Whyte.
Bradford-based Freedom Studios is an award-winning intercultural theatre company, which connects different people and communities through story-telling and making theatre. Engagement is intrinsic to their work, and communities are at the heart of what they do. Their recent site-specific productions include The Mill – City of Dreams; Brief Encounters at Bradford Interchange; Home Sweet Home and most recently North Country.
For more information on When We Were Brothers and Freedom Studios visit www.freedomstudios.co.uk
For tickets and information on REVEAL Festival 2018 visit octagonbolton.co.uk/get-involved/artist-development/reveal-2018/
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Performed in the site-specific location of Venue Bar Bolton, Ben Tagoe’s new play tells the story of Danny and Tommo, who have been friends since they were 8 years old. Played, fought, had each other’s backs. Like brothers. Now they’re grown up; Danny’s down in that London and Tommo is off work and back at his old bedroom. But Tommo’s mum, Julie, is really worried about him, and Danny may be the only one who can help…
Ben Tagoe is a screenwriter and playwright based in Yorkshire. He was selected for the BBC Writers Academy in 2011/12 and worked recently as a regular writer on Coronation Street (ITV). He is currently on the 2017/18 BBC Drama Writers’ Programme and he is also developing original projects with Synchronicity Films and STV amongst others. His plays include The Thing about Psychopaths (Red Ladder), Cold Turkey at Nana’s (Oran Mor/Perth Theatre), Bittersweet Sunshine (Red Ladder) and Vegan Wedding (Slung Low), and he was selected for the Bruntwood Hub in 2013/14.