Hull Truck Theatre’s 50th Anniversary Season kicks off with something for everyone to enjoy

Hull Truck Theatre kicks off an exciting programme of work for January and February, welcoming visiting companies and a mix of drama, comedy, family shows, music and presenting our own headline anniversary production, 71 Coltman Street.

Oh! What A Night (Saturday 22 January) takes audiences back in time on a musical journey through the incredible career of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. Featuring songs such asSherry, Let’s Hang On, Big Girl’s Don’t Cry, and Can’t Take My Eyes Off You this show has been rescheduled from 2020 and has only final tickets remaining.

Hull Truck Theatre’s popular Great Adventures (one Saturday per month) continue to encourage children aged 3-6 and their families to get creative. The Adventures feature an arts & crafts session followed by an interactive performance where the children’s craft items come to life as part of the interactive play and offers a wonderful first theatre experience for young children.

Janthi Mills-Ward, Executive Director at Hull Truck Theatre, said:

“We are delighted to be able to create a show for young children and their families. We know that our younger audiences might not be ready for a full-length production, so are excited to be able to have an interactive offering for little ones to experience the magic of theatre”.

Bye Bye Blues Band – The Farewell Tour (Wednesday 2 February) are taking to the road one last time to remind us just how eternally thrilling their version of live Blues remains. Over 30 albums, well over 4,000 gigs and 20+ singles and EPs later, The Blues Band train is finally pulling into the sidings.

The Ballad of Mulan (Friday 4 February) explores the identity of one of the most revered women in China. Don’t expect a fluffy Disney tale here, this Mulan is visceral. She is a warrior, a fighter, a woman who survived in a very male world for ten years without discovery. There is no perfect make-up, no singing animals, just a gritty story of a soldier. Michelle Yim (The Empress and Me and An Evening with Miss Wong) brings to life our Heroine who, to save her family’s honour, disguised herself as a man and joined the emperor’s army – but was that the real reason or was there some other motive, and just how did her true identity remain secret?

Writer Ross Ericson, whose play Casualties was nominated for an Off West End Award and whose solo WW1 show The Unknown Soldier officially sold out at Edinburgh Fringe 2016, has returned to the original text, the C6th Chinese poem on Mulan, to fill in the gaps.

Meal One is an immersive and playful family show featuring Helbert, his Mum, a dog and a cat. We follow them as they plant a plum stone in the bedroom floor where naturally a huge tree quickly fills the room, turning it into the best tree-house-playground ever. But when they go downstairs for Meal One – the first meal of the day – they discover a kitchen full of tree roots busily munching through anything edible they can find.

Based on a 1970s children’s book by Ivor Cutler and Helen Oxenbury, Meal One is a journey of discovery filled with breath-taking projections, music and singing, dance and unexpected visual surprises. Produced by 509 Arts with Hull Truck Theatre and supported by Mind The Gap.

71 Coltman Street (Thursday 17 February – Saturday 12 March) is the world premiere and a specially commissioned new play, inspired by the real-life story of the Hull Truck Theatre’s creation. Written by Richard Bean and directed by Mark Babych, the production will launch the theatre’s 50th anniversary programme in 2022. The play tells the dramatized story ofHull Truck Theatre founder Mike Bradwell’s mission to revolutionise British theatre and put local people and real lives at its heart. In the play, Mike tells of his ambition to create work that is ‘sweaty, exciting, unpredictable…’, resulting in the birth of the Hull theatre company which has since gained a reputation for producing, programming and touring pioneering work with a uniquely Northern voice.

The production is written by multi-award-winning Hull born playwright Richard Bean (One Man, Two Guvnors) who’s critically acclaimed play The Hypocrite, was co-commissioned by Hull Truck Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company and was a major highlight of Hull’s year as UK City of Culture in 2017.

Directed by Hull Truck Theatre’s artistic director Mark Babych, the play takes place in a freezing cold house on Coltman Street in early 1972 where a motley crew of unemployed actors gather to improvise a play with no name, no plot, no budget and no bookings. Sick of ‘fancy plays by dead blokes’, Mike wants to tell stories about real people living real lives and decides that there is nowhere better to do that than in Hull.

Mark Babych, artistic director at Hull Truck Theatre, said:

“We’re phenomenally proud of Hull Truck’s story and its legacy as a theatre, which celebrates local people.

“Mike believed that theatre is for everyone and should showcase real-life experiences that audiences could connect with on a personal level, and it’s still very much the ethos of the company today”.

The Noise Next Door: In Charge (Saturday 19 February) are twelve-time sell-out veterans of the Edinburgh Fringe and have appeared on BBC One, ITV1, BBC Three and BBC Radio 4. They have also appeared alongside the likes of Michael McIntyre, Katherine Ryan, Romesh Ranganathan and Harry Hill. The charismatic quartet have always astonished with their ability to spin audience suggestions into comedy gold, but for this show they’re putting the audience, in charge in brilliant and bombastic new ways.

Join comedy’s unstoppable force for an evening like no other… Hilarious scenes! Mind-blowing songs! Finely tuned anarchy.

Here’s What She Said to Me (Thursday 24 – Friday 25 February) combines drama with music, poetry and movement to tell a moving story of daughters and mothers in the world of migrations and shifting identities, braving life with an undying hope, optimism and resilience. Sheffield-based Utopia Theatre holds a distinctive place in the British Cultural Landscape: a unique voice for African Theatre in the diaspora. With an inimitable style combining African theatre tradition with that of the Western world, Utopia Theatre creates artistic work that represents voices of the African diaspora in the 21st century. Written by Oladipo Agboluaje, conceived and directed by Mojisola Elufowoju.