October 4th || Leah Hamer
GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS is the killer new production from the power team at Potboiler Theatre, all about the euphoric experiences of adolescence and the terrifying realisation that adulthood awaits us all. Ahead of its three-night run beginning on the 6th October at The Exchange, REBEL caught up with the mind behind it all, playwright, Kat Boon.
Set in 1997, it follows three friends, Badger, Fish Head and Baby Face, on their eighteenth birthday night out. The tale begins comedic before turning into a thriller, as a friend that disappeared when they were children, reappears on this night and they attempt to track her down and reconnect with their youth. ‘It’s a really fun, in your face production,’ Kat laughs, ‘but it’s got heart to it.’ Summed up it is ‘A coming of age story with a twist.’
Potboiler Theatre began in partnership with Appetite to trial theatre in local pubs throughout Stoke-On-Trent, before they moved onto testing the boundaries of their location selections by staging their productions in town halls and empty shops. For their fourth production, they have chosen the intimate, underground space of The Exchange, with the support from Arts Council England, Art City and Unity Theatre Trust.
The plot has been inspired by Kat’s memories of her older sister, preparing for nights out in the nineties, ‘When I was a kid I remember her going to places like Maxims and Valentino’s,’ She recalls. As well as this, however, Kat has also raided the minds of other locals to collect their anecdotes from the era.
Together with some imagination, these tales form the basis for GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS- a story designed to conjure up a good old bit of nostalgia. Yet it also has a place to connect with a younger audience too. ‘That hopefulness and excitement about what is going to happen in the night, the routine of getting yourself ready and making yourself look really glamourous- that’s timeless. So it is for that nineties generation but it also relates to eighteen year olds now, especially young women. It’s a show about how you have to leave your youth behind and become an adult which is really scary and relevant at any age.’
As the title would presume, the show is of course centred on the lives of young women. ‘We are very passionate about giving opportunities to female actors and celebrating the female experience, which a lot of theatre companies don’t do.’ This drive to give more focus on females within the acting world derives from Kat’s years of experience within theatre.
With Stoke blood running through her veins, she moved away to university and began work as a playwright across several companies in Liverpool and Birmingham, before she returned home and met fellow director and Potboiler partner, Kat Hughes. Both had the same question about Stoke, after witnessing a thriving scene in other major cities, ‘Why not here?’
Quirky venues are definitely one of the foundations of Potboiler, firstly for practical reasons- as studio space is limited in the area, but also for matters of passion. ‘We want to bring theatre to new audiences, so you have to go to where people are. People who go to pubs and clubs are a broad range of people, for example. Logistically it can be a nightmare but we’re passionate about it.’
The dream has grown into a much larger concept since the success of their first few plays. ‘We want to make shows in Stoke and then tour them around the country. Our work is routed here and about Stoke-On-Trent people, but why can’t it go and see the rest of the world? There’s no reason we can’t have stories of Stoke shown in London and Manchester.’
As a Stoke based playwright, the City of Culture bid has definitely worked up Kat’s levels of excitement. ‘I think it’s already galvanised people and increased everyone’s pride and ambition. Even if we don’t get it, I think it’s already had a really positive effect, but if we do it will allow our art to be shown to an even bigger audience. So we’re totally behind the bid.’
Regardless of the bid outcome, the future is bright for Potboiler. ‘We’re hoping to do more at The Exchange- maybe something more regular, perhaps a monthly night, similar to an Open Mic where we can trial out some bits and do some casual story-telling. All that and of course we’re hoping to tour GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS too.’
But if you want to see the show’s debut in its hometown, then GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS will take place downstairs at The Exchange, Trinity St, Hanley, opening on Thursday 5 October at 7:30pm and running until Saturday 7 October. Tickets are from £6.50 and four friends can go for £30. Tickets can be booked via www.potboilertheatre.com.