Pic Lee Baxter

Modern day footballers show plenty of theatrics on the pitch week in week out. Now it’s the turn of the fans. Sort of.

Back in July, Contact Theatre called for 100 City fans with no acting experience to audition for a production of We’re Not Really Here. Just die hard City faithful doing what they do best week in and week out.

This international collaboration between Contact and Belgian theatre directors, Yahya Terryn, Gilles De Schryver and Oliver Roels, puts the audience in the middle as if they were on the pitch, and is the first of its kind in the UK.

The audience gets a unique opportunity to experience what the players feel as the ‘terraces’ come alive with the highs, the lows, the banter and the songs of a typical match day supporting their team and showing the range of emotions experienced by football fans.

The show has previously been developed with football clubs in Belgium, Czech Republic, Holland, Finland and Ireland and now England as real life City fans share their own personal experiences and stories.

Project co-ordinator and massive City fan Kyle Walker told us about the show.

What was the inspiration for the show?

Yahya, one of the directors of Het Kip (formerly of legendary Belgian Theatre Company who are behind this), told me that he went to a football game with a friend and found himself being drawn to the action in the stands as well as the action on the pitch. He could see all the characters and emotions they went through whilst watching the game.

This is the UK premiere for the show. What brought you to Manchester instead of another part of the country?

When Matt Fenton our artistic director saw it in Dublin, he knew the production had to come to Manchester. City were the perfect club for it because of all the work they do in the community and with fans.

The name We’re Not Really Here comes from the City song.  Were there any other contenders in the mix for the name?

When I was first brought on to the project I was asked about possible names for the production, as a massive Man City fan I had lots flying around that could be to do with Blue Moon, the Citizens or other things related to the club but at a match I was chanting along and that line stuck out for me. I felt it was perfect.

There are no professional actors involved in the production.  Did that present any particular difficulties in putting everything together?

The call out was for real Manchester City fans, fans that are passionate and love the club. Whatever their jobs are, we wanted to focus on the connections they had to the club. This can’t be replicated by anyone.

What was the biggest challenge you faced?

So far, the only challenge I’ve faced is the sheer amount of fans and stories that have come out of our search. Manchester City fans have seen it all. We really have been there when things were bad and now we are one of the best teams in the country. The journey we’ve been on and the things we’ve seen have meant that we have so many stories to tell. Every fan has their own experiences and tales to tell, so condensing this into a show is hard because we could spend hours telling them all.

What would you say was the most rewarding thing about the experience?

The most rewarding thing so far is seeing how excited the fans have been to get involved and share their experiences. We’re just about to start rehearsals but already so many have been in touch and sharing their excitement for the production.

Will we see a ‘second leg’ of the show catering for the Red half of our city?

The show is actually universal to anyone who follows a team – whatever sport or club you follow. The thing about the show is that it’s about real people that support a club through thick and thin. Fans that have experienced the lows and are now enjoying the highs of the beautiful game.

Many people who are not interested in football may be put off seeing the show.  What would you say to them?

This is a show like no other. Yes, the theme is about football but actually you get to see how people act in certain situations, how we change our views and how we act in groups. It’s a real interesting look at the way we are as humans. These are real fans and human beings and you’ll get to see their stories. Plus, the audience sit on the stage whilst all the action unfolds whilst looking out onto the seating area – or the stands!

Wednesday 20 September – Friday 22 September 2017 at 7:30pm. Saturday 23 September, 1pm and 7:30pm. Tickets are on sale from the box office in person, by phone on 0161 274 0600 and securely online at contactmcr.com.

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