opportunity to meet an incredible variety of individuals from diverse backgrounds and I’m so inspired by the people I meet. While working with some parents last year, I was surprised by the lack of understanding, and access to knowledge surrounding parental rights, and in a relationship break down, of the family court system. At the same time, I had a close
friend who had found out his ex-partner was pregnant but was refusing him access. I began researching the processes involved in the family court system; what does it take for a parent who genuinely wants to be involved in their child’s life, to get access to that child when the other parent is refusing? This is where the story was born. I wanted to write a piece which would make people think. It would make people question or consider the system. And more importantly, it would share this story of one young working class father who wants to be involved in his newborns life, but doesn’t quite know how to navigate a complex system.
Without any spoilers what is 'Not Yours, Mine' about?
R & C: Not Yours, Mine follows the story of Adam. Adam lives at home with his agoraphobic mother Joyce. His girlfriend Kate has fallen pregnant but following a breakdown of their relationship is refusing Adam access. The play follows Adam as he tries to negotiate an incomprehensible judicial system, his complex relationship with his mother, and his strained relationship with his unwavering ex-girlfriend. Not Yours, Mine covers a wider journey of struggle, self-destruction, class and complex relationships.
Tell us about the company & why you chose the cast you have.
R & C: Casting this show right was very important to us. We wanted to ensure we not only had a group of talented performers, but also open, playful and brave creatives who could come into a room with us and be part of a company process. We consider ourselves a very collaborative company, who approach rehearsals in a playful, experimental way. This is why we often like to hold workshop auditions to find our casts. We want to see how actors approach tasks, how playful they are and how they work with other actors. It gives us a chance to get to know actors as people as well as performers, and this is really important to us. When casting Not Yours, Mine there were so many factors to consider. We wanted to work with northern actors, who could not only perform the emotional journey of each character but also perform physical theatre effectively. We also needed a mother and son who could be related, and a best friend who could also perform spoken word. And importantly, we needed actors who could take risks, explore freely and be open to our playful approach. Our final cast was chosen considering all these factors and we are having an amazing time with them in the room. They are all extremely hard-working, dedicated and open performers who have a genuine desire to create a powerful production with us.
What have you found challenging about bringing the script to life?
R: When writing this script, I was very aware that it could come across as a classic ‘kitchen sink drama’. Now, I have nothing against kitchen sink, it can be highly effective and enjoyable, but it is not the theatre I am interested in making. So the biggest challenge with this script is integrating the stylised moments and abstract mise-en-scene with a naturalistic dialogue and characterisation. It’s about making sure the stylisation aids the story-telling rather than distracts. We have been playing to find a balance and I’m really excited to see how it all comes together.
Why should people come & watch 'Not Yours, Mine' & why is the piece important?
R: ‘Not Yours, Mine’ explores a subject that is not often spoken about or explored in theatre. The family court system is extremely complex and intricate. It is a system which not many people know about unless you are directly involved, either in a case or as a professional. When writing the play, I worked closely with a family solicitor who supported me in understanding the system. I was surprised by the financial burden of the process and the time it can take for custody arrangements to be made in complex cases. Through the development of the script I began talking to a variety of people about the themes of the play. I quickly realised that it affected more people then I realised but it was often not a subject that would have come up in conversation otherwise. This is why ‘Not Yours, Mine’ is important. It is a piece that is not necessarily making a judgement on the system, or challenging the process, rather encouraging us to consider the system and some of the potential benefits and limitations of such a complex institution. Aside from the themes explored, ‘Not Yours, Mine’ hopes to be an innovative piece of theatre. It plays with form and style with the use of physical theatre, spoken word, stylised staging and naturalistic acting. A combination that may be hard to envisage, but in this piece, supports and aids the story-telling in a visceral way.
What reaction do you expect from an audience?
R & C: The ideal reaction, for us, would be that the piece stimulates a conversation with audiences. We’d love the audience to leave and talk about some of the themes explored in the piece. We also anticipate the piece may be divisive. We are really interested to see the varying reactions to the battle
between Kate and Adam, and their dispute over the custody of their son, Ben. We anticipate some contrasting and conflicting reactions to the story. However, if this starts conversations, then we would say that the play has done what it set out to do.
Describe the piece in 3 words.
R & C: Thought-provoking. Stylised. Visceral.
Not Yours, Mine is a production by Fine Comb Theatre, an Associate Company at Oldham Coliseum Theatre.
Saturday 1 June, 7.30pm
Tuesday 4 June, 7.30pm (Half hour post show Q&A, 8.50pm)
Thursday 6 June, 7.30pm
Friday 7 June, 7.30pm
Under 26s £7
Directed by Rachel McMurray
Written by Rachel McMurray