People often ask you where you are from. I usually say Sheffield. It’s easier that way. I was born there so it makes sense.
I cannot bring myself to say I am from Leeds. I’m not. I just live here. And I’m not from any of the many other places I have lived briefly in my life. With maybe one exception.
Not in any way that the locals, those who were born and/or have lived great portions of their life there would recognise.
Perhaps it is incorrect to say I am ‘from’ Scarborough. It might be more accurate to say I was made in Scarborough. And I don’t mean in an icky, parents having sex, conceived in a chintzy B&B sort of way – EUGH!!! – my parents split up when I was four so the idea of them ever having had been a couple is a scary enough thought. No, I mean I made myself there.
I was forged there – during my undergraduate degree, during the earnest late night discussions in our single beds in halls or in Calvinos bar, The Cask, The Tunnel Club, The Underground, Kings, Flames, the flat on Westbourne Grove, the Albermarle Hotel and, not forgetting Bacchus. Most importantly in the many long days and late nights spent playing in those dark theatre studios. In these spaces I found my people and through them I found me.
And I got nothing but encouragement. A very wise Scotsman once said to me, “If you want to work in theatre, go out and make it yourself.” Or something along those lines.
The studios were open til late every night and if they weren’t in use they were ours – as long as we tidied up after ourselves. If we wanted set or props making we could use the workshop, probably get a helping hand, as long as we paid for any materials we used. It was the best time of my life. Full of friendship, full of passion, ambition and ideas.
And so it is incredibly sad to me to think that all that is coming to an end. That the performing arts courses of what is now University of Hull: Scarborough Campus (but will forever be to me University College Scarborough) are being moved out of that beautiful fading town by the wild North Sea. That those two fantastic studio spaces – which I have spent more time with than I have some of my relatives – will no longer be filled with hope and nerves and laughter and sweat and applause and the sound of Underworld played at inhuman volumes (thank you Fecund Theatre)!
We will come together to say goodbye (again). It is only fitting. My people. My home. And I know I will go back again, to the place I am from, but it will never be the same.