You’ve heard the apocryphal fatal tale of a woman dog-sitting and how the body ends up in a disappeared suitcase? (If not, look it up). It was one of many stories that inspired the original script ‘Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs)’ now being told by The Electric Sunshine Project (TESP) Community Theatre Company on stage at The Old Electric, 22-25 June.
The play is about greed, love, politics plus the power of a well-mixed banana daiquiri! And the audience can rest assured that no dogs were harmed in the making of this production.
TESP provides a unique community spirit to all of their productions. This time bringing together a fantastic team of 16 cast members and 5 creative team members. Puppets and costumes have been designed and made by 3D artist Janine Waker supported by community workshops and recent costume design graduate Josh Harris. Some newly composed music and arrangements by Lucy Rae that build on the haunting original musical score by Charles Hazlewood. The company also invited renowned playwright Carl Grose, the creator of this brilliantly crafted script to host a reading workshop where he shared his insights around the creative process with the performers.
Originally created by Cornish theatre company Kneehigh, the play was inspired by Bertolt Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera which in turn was inspired by John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera and is a beautifully anarchic, joyfully irreverent reflection of corruption in society.
TESP Artistic Director Melanie tells us: “We’ve not stuck 100% to the original script because it’s important that for all our productions, the expertise of our company members inform what happens on stage.
"We’ve got some great vocalists and some company members who have a brilliant ability to move so we’ve worked with local musician Phil Fairhurst and choreographer Hannah Dial to develop some beautiful musical elements to our production but also mixed in lots of spoken word and choral aspects to play to our ensemble’s strengths.
“This is our most technically challenging piece of theatre to date, and there’s been so many moving parts to coordinate that we’re all working outside of our comfort zones. We’re rehearsing on the bank holiday weekend and that’s when we will really start to have fun getting under the skins of these characters and scenes! For a piece that’s set at the end of the world and is all about the bleak existence of living in a politically corrupt society, it really is a very funny and emotionally engaging story - and if nothing else, come along and try to follow the tracks of the different suitcases!”
In keeping with the production’s quirky and unconventional spirit, the audience will be in for a treat as virgin banana daiquiris will be served during the interval - a perfect complement to one of the show’s more bonkers elements.
This collaborative effort not only showcases creativity and talent of the Blackpool community, but also emphasises the core value of The Old Electric - to provide transformative creative experiences in the lives of local residents. TESP community theatre has been going strong since 2016, with many participants taking part in previous productions and activities and there are always opportunities for new people to join in.
This production was made possible by the Lottery Reaching Community fund allowing The Old Electric to be a space for local residents to get involved in a broad range of creative activities.
If you want to get involved in future projects with The Old Electric, they’re hosting ‘Chats, Chores +Char’, a 2-week open house where everyone can come along and volunteer to spruce up the venue this Summer to celebrate their third birthday. These will be held from Monday 24 to Friday 28 July and Monday 7 to Friday 11 August from 10am to 6pm each day. No need to register, just come to The Old Electric, 23 Springfield Rd, Blackpool, FY1 1QW on the day.
Dead Dog in a Suitcase takes place Thursday 22 June at 7pm, Friday 23 and Saturday 24 June at 2pm and 7pm with its final performance on Sunday 25 June at 3pm.
Tickets are priced £7 each and are available HERE