The Mill – City of Dreams
Date: Spring 2011
Funders: The Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England Yorkshire
Location: Drummonds Mill, Lumb Lane
Our biggest production to date, ‘the Mill – City of Dreams’ was performed to great critical acclaim in an old textile mill in Bradford. Based on the stories of local and migrant wool workers, it uncovered the city’s past and posed searching questions about its future.
In 1900, there were 350 mills in Bradford and they dominated the city’s life at every level. Through interviews and readings, we discovered inspiring stories as we encountered people who gave their lives to the textile industry and shared dreams and aspirations for themselves and their children. Some dreams were realised, most were not.
In 2011, the old mills were part of Bradford’s artificially engineered new sense of self, as the city recreated itself through regeneration, with glass buildings, loft apartments and communal outdoor spaces. What do people dream of now?
This spectacular piece was performed over 15 nights in Drummonds Mill, which we transformed into a series of extraordinary spaces through which we could lead the audience. It was a huge success with critics and audiences alike. We’re really proud of the way it challenged the conventions of what theatre is, who it’s about and where it can be performed.
“The vast floor plan of the weaving shed seems to redraw itself continually through the shifting perspectives of pillars; narrow corridors extend like simulations in a computer game; while an arched, wooden void beneath eaves feels almost ecclesiastical. The project poses pertinent question about what we want these redundant spaces to become. Gated developments of luxury apartments? Even if Drummonds can no longer sustain industry, at least it has temporarily been filled with imagination.'”
Rating: **** Alfred Hickling, The Guardian