In the Time of Dragons is a Salford set musical which has an intriguing premise.
Deansgate Cabaret singer Sheelagh and music teacher Jack respectively occupy the same flat in 1965 and 2024.
One night the Manchester rain arrives in the guise of a storm and past and present combine with the two unlikely roommates looking for answers.
It is written and directed by Janine Walters, CEO of the Edge and their artistic director.
We spoke to actor, director, film-maker and musician Rupert Hill who plays Jack, to find out more.
What attracted you to this play?
“It’s always nice to be involved with an entirely new piece of writing.
“I attended a workshop of the piece in its infancy and thought it had bags of potential. Janine and Simon Walters create wonderful musical productions and I was incredibly impressed by Spinach and Dreaming Under a Different Moon (and not just because my wife Jenny was in both of them!).
“They are supremely talented and lovely people and this play is funny, dynamic and heartwarming.”
Tell us about your character?
“He is a troubled man (my forte!). A music teacher who once had dreams of being a musician and now feels somewhat stuck in life.
“He probably drinks too much and feels like his life has no real purpose.
“That is until someone from the very distant past comes literally into his world!
“That said, being a new piece of writing Janine might well completely change the whole concept next week!”
The Edge has a loyal audience but may be under the radar for some. What is the venue you like to perform in and be an audience member?
“The Edge is a marvelous place and I’m proud to also be on the board there. It is a cultural community hub and supports many of the most vulnerable people in society.
“The theatre itself has been recently renovated and is absolutely gorgeous and intimate. I love it there.
“And I implore people to please spare a few quid and come and see this show because you really will be supporting a very worthy organisation if you do.
“I love all theatre’s really from site specific warehouses to ornate Victorian prosceniums!
“Part of the charm about theatre is that you get to watch incredible stories unfold live in front of you in all sorts of wildly different environments.
“That said, I do really love performing in the round! Nowhere to hide but extraordinarily freeing.”
What has been your biggest challenge as someone working in the arts?
“Gosh, it’s a very difficult life but nothing compared to what a lot of people are going through right now.
“Apart from a few CEO’s it appears that most people are struggling. Covid and the cost of living along with this absurd government have decimated the arts (look what happened in Oldham to name but one) and so putting on plays is incredibly challenging right now.
“But we have to just keep on trying and not give up.
“We will keep theatre alive by hook or by crook.”
Manchester has a great arts community. Does that motivate you when you are getting ready for a play like this one?
“Yes I think so. I think Manchester has an incredible artistic community and we are very supportive of one another.
“I try and get to 53Two, The Hope Mill Theatre and the Royal Exchange (to name but a few) as often as I can and you always bump into familiar friendly faces. It’s very comforting.”
What does this play offer for someone seeking escapism in the midst of the cost of living crisis?
“It’s going to be funny, heartwarming and moving and the songs are almost certainly going to be fantastic (I haven’t heard them yet! But Simon is a marvel).
“I helped audition Megan Keaveny and Hannah Nuttall who are also in the play and they are phenomenal. Honestly, their singing blew me away!! I’m hoping I can hide behind their talent a little bit.”
What plans do you have when this play is finished?
“I have a short film that I wrote and directed with Andonis Anthony staring me and Julie Hesmondhalgh called Operation Magpie which is currently on the festival circuit and I’ve just secured funding for a play that I have written called Husk which will hopefully open in Manchester later this year.”
In the Time of Dragons is at The Edge from 19th February until 9th March and can be booked here