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The House at Boundary Road, Liverpool

"We can’t keep making theatre for other theatre-makers"

A new, collaboratively written play opens the door to everyone, writes Chika Ikogwe.

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Company: Bontom
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The House At Boundary Road, Liverpool: Everyone Welcome

Date: 5 Nov 2019

I am a Nigerian-Australian woman, who has lived in Australia for the past 20-something years.

Yet, until recently, I found it simultaneously weird and comforting to hear a black person speak with an Australian accent.

Comforting, because it was always wonderful to come across another person who looked and spoke like me. And weird because the people I’d meet in real life who looked and spoke like me were nowhere to be seen on stage and screen.

The lack of representation in the Australian entertainment industry made me feel like I wasn’t “normal”.

The mainstream depictions of black people I was consuming came from film, television and stage shows, whose characters spoke with British, American or Nigerian accents.

Being part of the writing team for The House at Boundary Road Liverpool has allowed me to inject the Nigerian-Australian voice into the African-Australian canon of work.

One of the things I believe theatre should do (other than entertain) is help people feel less alone.

I think we’ve all had a moment when we’ve watched stories on stage and found ourselves saying, “OMG, thank god I’m not the only one!”.

The House at Boundary Road Liverpool features voices and stories from writers of Italian, Filipino, Lebanese/Palestinian and Nigerian backgrounds, and hopefully our audiences arrive at the theatre, are entertained by our work – and, most importantly – leave the theatre feeling as though they’ve witnessed something familiar, something that resonates in a personal way.

I’m super excited to be working on this play, because it’s the kind of theatre that’s made for regular, everyday people who aren’t necessarily involved in the arts.

I truly believe that anyone could come into The Old 505 Theatre, watch our show, be immersed in the world we’ve created, and completely understand it.

I’m not saying that all theatre needs to be like this, but sometimes the work I see on stage appears to be closing itself off and catering to a privileged few, rather than opening itself up to audiences from as many different backgrounds, demographics and walks of life as possible.

We can’t keep making theatre for other theatre-makers and regular theatre goers.

The House at Boundary Road Liverpool is a play for everyone.

The House At Boundary Road, Liverpool plays at the Old 505 Theatre, Newtown, until November 16

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