It has been over a year since many of us have travelled our regular journeys by train. For some people working from home has its benefits such as no commuting, but for others, the chance for reflection and ‘me time’ which you experience while travelling by train is something they’re keen to experience again.
If you enjoy the social aspect of travelling in a carriage listening to other voices and hearing snippets of their day, then chances are you’ll love OUR LINE. It’s an app based play which you listen to on your smart phone, and tells the story of Nora, her family and life in communities along the Bishop Line in modern day and back to the birth of railways.
OUR LINE, created by artist Hannah Bruce, and starring Darlington based actress Jade Byrne, was first created to be listened to by passengers on the Bishop Line. Listeners met at Darlington Station, put headphones on and listened to the story relating to the scenery out of the train windows as they travelled all the way to Bishop Auckland. After great success in 2018, the show has now been made available to listen to from home or wherever you happen to be.
Felicity Machnicki, Officer for the Bishop Line Community Rail Partnership said:
“For me, Our Line is a starting point for people to talk again. Whether that’s about what they recognise in the story, or it’s a song that sparked a memory, or that it made them think of a family member. I am looking forward to a feeling of connection on the Bishop Line again. When our passengers can come on to the trains for all journeys, whether they are heading to the shops with friends, nervously going to a job interview, taking a sightseeing trip or just because they love looking out of the window and daydreaming. I look forward to hearing passengers talking about Our Line or their experiences of Lockdown, it’s the sounds of chatter of all ages that I look forward to hearing again.”
The show is inspired by the fond memories and family legends collected from local people. In summer 2017, a team from Hannah Bruce & Co and the show’s commissioners, Luxi, spent time travelling the route and chatting to local people about their lives and family memories, and those brilliant stories went into the creation of a script. Hannah and her collaborators mixed it into an audio story timed to start on Darlington Station, then accompany audience members onto the train and finish neatly as they pull into Bishop Auckland at the end of the line.
As 2020 evolved we realised that a new approach would be needed and that the opportunity to use the same app based system could bring the 35 minute show to audiences in their own homes; and instead of tying the show times to exactly the times of the train schedule, this time people can experience Our Line whenever and wherever they like.
Marie Addison, Community and Sustainability Manager for Northern, said:
“We are proud to continue supporting such a fantastic initiative which gives people anywhere in the world the chance to experience, virtually, all that the Bishop Line has to offer. With the current restrictions because of coronavirus Our Line is a great way to enjoy the railway from the comfort of your own home.”
It’s really easy, anyone can register for a ticket and get the instructions to download the app by visiting the Our Line page at www.jabberwockymarket.org.uk, you just need a smartphone or tablet and headphones. It’s free of charge thanks to funding from Arts Council England and support from The Bishop Line, Northern, University of York and other companies.
After the show there is a short survey as we’d love to know what you think and we know from last time that most people have a lot they want to chat about afterwards. Audiences are encouraged to share thoughts using the #OurLine on twitter and Instagram, and the Jabberwocky Market facebook page.
Caroline Pearce, Director of Luxi and Producer of Jabberwocky Market pop-up theatre events, said:
“Years ago I came across a project in New York City called the A Train Plays, in which a group of actors and theatre creatives boarded the Subway to make and perform a brand new play by the time the train returned to the start of its circular route. I found the idea inspiring and often think about how the feeling of being on a train can be like being an audience, how the changing view out of the window can change your mood and affect what you’re doing or seeing and it makes me think of different ways that theatre can be made for, and told in, the confines of a train carriage.
After the success of the pilot we’ve been committed to creating more like that; since that’s not currently possible it’s been great to work together and find alternative ways to share stories with our communities and exciting to imagine how an online version could be loved all around the world.”
Hannah Bruce, lead artist said:
“I particularly enjoyed meeting people along the Bishop Line who have such wonderful stories to tell about the past and present. Sound is a fantastic tool for triggering the imagination, and I feel as though Our Line almost allows me to meet past generations, who still influence the lives and landscape of people living along The Bishop Line today. For me, this is a story about how different generations imagine each other, and we can vividly imagine the landscapes through the train window.”
Dates: Our Line is live online now
Times: whenever you like
Location: wherever you have access to a smart device and headphones (you need to be online to download the app but don’t need to be online to listen to the show)
Tickets: free to listen – visit the Luxi website