Beautiful aerial theatre comes to Hull Truck with He Ain’t Heavy

Published: Thursday 12th October 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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He Ain’t Heavy blends puppetry, aerial circus and traditional storytelling to create a fascinating and captivating piece of theatre.

Written and performed by Grania Pickard, the show explores the relationship between her and her brother, Sean, who has multiple learning difficulties, epilepsy and autism.

“The combination of skills that we are using is quite different. I am a trained circus and physical theatre performer and we’re also using little elements of puppetry and audience interaction,” Grania tells us.

“I’ve been working on the show in my head for years. The idea originally came to me when I got married. My brother couldn’t come to my wedding – he’d rather go to the park,” she chuckles. “I regretted that he wouldn’t be there and it got me thinking of all the times he had missed out on – graduating, turning 18, moving house.”

Throughout the show, the audience can get to know Sean on a personal level – how he walks, talks and what he likes to do best.

“He’s such a big part of my life, even though there is a distance between us.”

The piece is debuting at Hull Truck Theatre this week.

“My mum is coming to watch, but Sean won’t be there. He has the mental age of around 18 months and just wants to play. If he did come, he would walk into the venue, see me, walk onto the stage and list a bunch of things he wants to do. I would have to leave so he didn’t get upset, although that would make for an interesting piece…” she laughs.

There is a Friday matinee adapted to suit audiences with profound and multiple learning disabilities.

“The rules of theatre will go out the window; we’ll always have the house lights on, we’ll lower the music and take away anything that would surprise anyone unpleasantly. It will be really relaxed and people can come and go as they feel comfortable,” Grania explains.

The stage will have a very simplistic setup. A 3.8-metre aerial swing ise used by Grania and fellow performer Sophie Postlethwaite. Meanwhile, a pair of shoes represent Sean. These can stand alone or be brought to life through puppetry.

“In one sense, people will hopefully find it very entertaining – Sophie and I can be very silly at times. Also, the movements are really interesting,” Grania points out. “Those who have had similar life experiences may also be able to relate to certain aspects of the piece. The topic is not largely talked about.”

He Ain’t Heavy runs until Saturday 14 October. Further information and tickets can be found on the Hull Truck Theatre website.

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Published: Thursday 12th October 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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