In 1997 Barrow Borough Council asked The Ashton Group to produce a community play for Barrow. What eventually became Barramundi took 3 years of community development and fundraising. Instead of one big show we decided it might be better to make a number of smaller shows so that lots of people could be involved at all kinds of different levels, and that there should be lots of writers involved to give a wide range of voices. On this principal we put together a mixture of writers from Barrow itself and from outside the town. So alongside Barrow’s Sarah Miller, Kate Davies, Phil Gregg and John Hall are Julia Darling from Newcastle and Kevin Fegan from Manchester. Added to this mix, some of the performers devised their own material, young people from Ormsgill and Barrow Island and the members of Barrow Deaf Drama Group.
Some of the Barramundi stories were based loosely on real events, some were entirely fictional but set in real places around the town. They were imagined happenings, stories spun out, gossip and tall tales such as you might hear told in any playground, bar, supermarket checkout or doctors waiting room across the town.
The nine plays that made up Barramundi were performed over three nights at The Forum in Barrow in November 2000.
As part of Barramundi, The Ashton group ran an Intergenerational Choir project in partnership with Ormsgill Primary School, Age Concern (Building Bridges Project) and Urban Voice. Sarah Miller ran creative lyric writing workshops with a mixed group of Year 6 pupils and senior citizens. The songs reflected the different views of Barrow across the generations and celebrated their shared experience of the town. Tyndale Thomas of Manchester’s Urban Voice put the lyrics to music and the finished songs where then recorded onto CD in the studio at Lantern House in Ulverston. The choir’s work is part of the National Foundation for Youth Music’s ‘Singing Challenge’.
Artistic Director Rachel Ashton
Associate Director Sarah Miller
Assistant Director Phill Gregg
Design Andrew Wood
Production Manager Gary Bridgens
Lighting Design Dave Hill
Deputy Stage Manager Alina Hutchinson
Sound Urban Voice, Manchester (Andy Williams and Tyndale Thomas)
Interpreters Dot Johnson and Fiona Adair
For a full list of Barramundi casts click here
Night One - Young Voices
by the Ormsgill Community Youth Group
The Sheer family live on Ormsgill Estate. They are eagerly awaiting the arrival of a new family who are due to move into the empty house across the street; but when they turn up they aren't what Mr and Mrs Sheer had in mind . . . a touch too hairy! Romeo and Juliet meets Goldilocks up the reservoir.
by the Barrow Island Community Youth Group
Emma has moved up from Manchester to live with her granny on Barrow Island.
To meet new friends she joins the marching group – but will her face fit? Meanwhile a television crew is snooping around the island trying to dig the dirt. A comedy about trying to fit in.
The Nightmare Slayer
by Sarah Miller
On Barrow Island, Diane's boyfriend Keith is putting pressure on her to get married – but she's happy as she is, just her and her 13 year old daughter Lucy.
But now Lucy's having nightmares about being forced to wear uncool clothes and suddenly she wants answers . . . Mum, who is my dad?
Night Two - Folk gettin' on with it
by Kate Davies
Alex Lomas and his mate Gaffa race bangers down at Roosecote, while Alex's dad Billy 'recycles' scrap metal and turns it into weird things in the back yard. To say they don't get on is an understatement. Meanwhile something a bit X-Files is happening to their house . . . call for Mulder and Scully.
by Barrow Deaf Drama Group
Debbie is up a ladder changing a light bulb when a disaster strikes and she lands up the hospital with a broken leg. What follows is pure slapstick. A series of misunderstandings ensue with hilarious consequences. A unique opportunity to see Barrow's deaf actors at work in a comedy about the experiences of deaf people in the hearing world.
by John Hall
Vera follows Barrow AFC and has done all her life. But this is an extra special match for her and she is a woman with a mission. Will Vera find the knight in shining footie scarf whom she needs? A gentle, romantic comedy set outside the turnstiles at the Barrow v Dover match of 1998.
Night Three - Another Saturday Night
White Van Man
by Kevin Fegan
'If it's Saturday it must be Barra'. Matey is Barrow born and bred but lives in Manchester. But every Saturday he's back in town in his white van, delivering paper serviettes. Join Matey and Driver as they navigate the one way system, spot the new bus stops, traverse the Piazza and negotiate their love lives.
The Night that Tom Jones came to Barrow
by Julia Darling
Reg is a Tom Jones impersonator, and Miss Cleo is a Drag Queen. In the dressing room of a Barrow cabaret club, Miss Cleo's true identity is revealed and hard man Reg's past catches up with him big style.
The Bull, the Pull and the Strip
by Sarah Miller and Phill Gregg
Cornwallis Street on a Saturday night; the air is full of expectation . . . Dean and Jack are chasing the perfect night out, but a lost mobile phone leads to an overheated love triangle tangle, and big women take to riding the mechanical bull for lager and laughs.
Will the lads find their perfect moment? Boyz, Booze and Big Birds.