In Good Company:
Chip Shop Chips Q&A
Hello, what’s your name and what’s your role in Chip Shop Chips? What does that role involve on the road? My name is Amy and I’m the Associate Producer at Box of Tricks. I’m producing the production of Chip Shop Chips which means for the past year I have been approaching venues about hosting a performance of the show, booking the tour and liaising with venues and promoters. I book all of the logistics in advance of the tour like travel and accommodation but then I don’t actually go out on tour myself! I send the actors and our production manager out on the road to do the show and I carry on looking after the venues and the marketing from our office in Manchester.
Without giving too much away, explain to us what Chip Shop Chips is all about. Without just telling you the same stuff from the show copy, for me the play is all about nostalgia. Remembering how you felt when you were dating your first love, how you feel now when you go back to somewhere you grew up and everything or nothing has changed. It’s also about the different paths our lives take from the ones you thought they might. The younger characters Lee and Jasmine seem to have very different paths laid out ahead of them but you see Lee working hard to carve his own route. It’s a very hopeful and warm story.
Who came up with the idea of incorporating a fish and chip supper into the play and how do you think this adds to the performance? The playwright Becky had the idea of writing a play set in a chip shop and the eating part just kind of followed. When we were first discussing the idea we had no idea how we would provide the food. We even thought at one point that we would have to cook it ourselves on site… Thank goodness that didn’t happen! Having the audience eat fish and chips whilst the play is performed around them makes it a completely immersive experience. You don’t just see the chip shop the play is set in, but you sit at the tables, you can smell it and taste it! I also think people are attracted to the theatre with a social element. You can come with friends, have a chat, grab a drink, take part in the quiz. You are guaranteed to have a good time.
Of all the work you’ve done (not exclusively in rural touring) what’s been your professional highlight to date? That’s a really tough question. I’ve produced a lot of different types of work along side my work with Box of Tricks, but we are a small team of three, so every Box of Tricks project feels like a very personal investment. The first time we toured Chip Shop Chips the full tour sold out! That’s got to be every producers dream. To see so many communities at a sold out performance, in a venue on their home turf, was a definite highlight.
Thinking about your show, what’s the one thing overall that you hope audiences will take away from seeing the show? I suppose as well as having an enjoyable evening, I hope it makes people think about theatre differently. Theatre isn’t just a play on a big stage in a dark theatre in the city.
What is it about rural touring that appeals to you? What are the challenges? (If any!) The opportunity to reach so many new audiences is what I find most appealing. Audiences who see a show of ours on a rural tour would probably never book to see it in a studio theatre. I suppose the challenges of rural touring from a producers perspective can be that we often perform lots of one-nighters so it means lots of accommodation to book, sometimes in what can feel like the middle of nowhere! It’s also a lot of travel and hard work for the actors moving the show into a new venue every day. We are lucky to have a great team on Chip Shop Chips who all get stuck in putting up the set and taking it down again, as well as performing the show in the middle!
Have you been to North Yorkshire before? If so, do you have a particular favourite location or place to visit? If not, is there anything you’re keen to see or do whilst you’re here? I actually don’t know North Yorkshire well at all and it isn’t a place Box of Tricks has toured to previously. I’ve actually recently moved to York, so I really need to get out and explore some of the area. I got a North Yorkshire walks book for Christmas and I’m hoping to get all 24 walks done in 2018. I kind of wish I was coming on tour to the North Yorkshire dates because it’s one of the few places the actors get to stay in lovely locally run B&B’s. They will feel really spoilt by the lovely views and the full english breakfasts before they have to go and stay at a motorway travel lodge later in the tour, far less glam!
Where’s your favourite chippy and what’s your usual order? My parents are from Wigan and I consider Maureen’s Chippy on Gidlow lane to be the best! It’s right near where my nan lived when I was growing up. My order is a very classic Fish, Chips and mushy peas with salt and loads and loads of vinegar.
Chip Shop Chips is part of ON Tour Spring 2018, for tickets and more information visit rural arts.org/events_performances