Northern Soul. Northern Poetry.
I love people’s voices. When I was a teenager I’d spend every summer over at Manchester Youth Theatre, which should really be called the Northern Youth Theatre, we came from all over, and I would love meeting and listening to Scousers, Geordies, Mancunians, Yorkshires and Lancastrians (and even some exotic Brummies.) Every town, even every street, had a separate voice with it’s own distinct music to it.
I remember the shock when I went South to Uni and discovered that everyone there spoke the same.
The other night in rehearsals of Big Sky – Stories from the Edge, ‘Uncle Pete’ asked if he could read the words in his own voice, rather than trying for a posh reading voice. It’s the second rehearsal; the first was a lively read through with the whole cast. Uncle Pete has an amazing Sheffield bass-rumble of a voice (suitably, as he plays bass in a jazz band.) Sally, the writer and I, jumped up and said ‘yes please!’
Sally has taken the remarkable and varied voices of Skye Edge and Wybourn in Sheffield, crafted them into the rhythm of poetry, and handed them back, to be read (as much as possible) by the original speaker.
At the rehearsal Pete, and Rotherham poet Ray Hearne discussed whether to say a t’ rather than a ‘the’, – it was lovely hearing their voices at work.