Street Voices 3 Review – The Cadaverine Magazine

In Theatre Reviews on November 4, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Freedom Studios is on a mission to provide ‘fresh, risky and modern’ approaches to theatre – and with its third instalment of Street Voices, it certainly doesn’t fail. The concept behind Street Voices is what makes it so special; four directors, eight writers and twelve actors staging eight plays over the course of two nights. And it is up to you, the audience, to decide which one is the best.


Upon arrival you are handed a score card and pen. The lights dim over a mostly bare stage, the small crates of assorted colours metamorphosing into suitcases, chairs, a toilet or a cradle, and the play begins. Then, after each twenty minute play, the lights go up and you must quantify, qualify and rate the performance, answering questions such as: sum up the play in four words,what image/moment has affected you most and why? And rate the play on a scale of bad to west-end hitStreet Voices elevates its interactive audience to unfamiliar prestige as the fate of one of the eight writers lies in the evaluation of your scorecards. The winning writer will be commissioned to write a full-length seventy-minute touring play.


Madani Younis, Artistic Director of Freedom Studios, is well aware of the risks involved, the company effectively ‘gambling’ £50,000 on several unproven playwrights. Nevertheless, he reiterates the commitment to providing a platform for fresh, unpublished writers to expose their talent, essentially giving them their first big break. With Street Voices 3, the initial open call for writers’ work was followed by an interview for every applicant, and a new generation of writers was plucked from Yorkshian obscurity.


Each play was intriguing and provided a panoramic snapshot of the lives of random individuals. One of the successful applicants, Wendy Reed, explored the underlying chaos beneath the sheen of urban domesticity through the setting of contemporary Leeds. Zodwa Nyoni’s play followed a hopeful youth as he tries to combat Mugabe’s tyrannical regime with terrifying twists and consequences. The ending leaves you breathless with the lines, ‘You said I’d save Zimbabwe.’ ‘You are. Just not the way you thought you would.’


The other plays are just as radical. Shaida Chaudhury’s Licence to Conceive is set in a dystopian 2015, where a couple undergo rigorous Big Brother style tests to earn a baby, with manic smiles plastered on their desperate faces under the watchful eye of the cameras. Finally, Dominic Douglas’s play sensitively explores the emasculation and heartache of a couple who must learn to live with a difficult boy who has come into their care.


With just twenty minutes, the writers have the tough challenge of communicating their message and making the audience care. Street Voices 3 excelled in all its aims and ambitions. The revolutionary approach of inviting the audience to literally play the part of critic in its X-Factormethod writing competition is truly engaging. Freedom Studios take an inspirational, alternative direction with a community spirit that binds the team together. At the end of the night, the actors collect in your scorecards and head off on the train together with the writers who have yet to discover whether or not this is something they will be getting used to in the not too distant future.

Street Voices 3 

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