“It’s going to be a theatrical experience like no other. And I know a lot of people say that but this is definitely not your traditional theatre show,” states Darren Pritchard, the director of Rent Party.
Rent Party is just that: one big party. The performance lasts for one hour and is followed by an hour-long after party where the audience are invited to join the cast in an evening fuelled by fun, excitement and plenty of gin.
Pritchard imagined the idea after Homotopia, a dance company, approached him about a play based on the poetry of Langston Hughes – a black, gay poet from Harlem. “After that, I went away and researched Langston Hughes and his poetry and he actually wrote about these rent parties in the 1920s; he would write lines of poetry on the invitations. Then I went back to Homotopia and said that I’d like to take your offer and do a piece but not necessarily based on Langston Hughes or in the Harlem renaissance era because I don’t really want to give that narrative when I’m black, gay and British.”
The musical is based on the true stories of five performers. “We’ve got two straight females and three gay males all from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds and all working class. So we thought that it’d be interesting because our voices are never heard. I have a responsibility to let them tell their own stories in their own way because they’re being generous and giving a piece of themselves to strangers.” Pritchard explains.
Through various styles of dance, including vogue, some old school new jacks swing and a bit of commercial, the lives of five individuals unfold. “Kamile, she’s a working mother. She works part-time and has to juggle her job with looking after her kid and this show,” Pritchard recounts. “Lenae is a graduate; she’s just graduated with £27,000 worth of debt.”
“It’s about creating a 21st Century rent party using the current day stories,” the director, who co-wrote the production with Cheryl Martin, continues. “If you look at 2017, rent is inappropriately high for most people and there’s a rise in food banks. So there’s certain lengths that people are having to go to in order to be able to afford their rent and food. So, we just thought that it would be a good reflection of the political climate at the
If people want something different, something punk, rock, alternative, then come and see Rent Party.
Although the performance incorporates an element of politics, Pritchard wants the political to become personal. “At the end of the day, I just want the audience to have a great experience and to enjoy the show.
“If people want something different, something punk, rock, alternative, then come and see Rent Party,” Pritchard insists. “It’s got it all. It’s about real people telling their real stories in a kind of fun and fascinating way.”
Join the party at the Crucible Studio from 13-23 December 2017. Tickets are available from just £5 for 16-25 year olds and are available from the Sheffield Theatres website.