Fatherland started as a conversation in a pub with long-time Frantic collaborator Eddie Kay. We spent the night telling funny stories about our Dads. The nugget of an idea for a show sat dormant for a while.
Years later my wife came home after taking my daughters to see the film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and told me about this beautiful scene involving an invention called 'The Monkey Thought Translator'. A few days later, while sitting on the top deck of a bus it suddenly hit me what show I wanted to make and how I was to make it.
I eventually plucked up the courage to pitch an idea to Manchester International Festival. At this stage the idea was still called Monkey Thought Translator so it was credit to MIF that they did not laugh me out of the office! My next step was finding my collaborators.
In many ways, I was not pitching an image of a show to those collaborators. I was pitching a journey; "Join me in this search for voices and out of that a show will emerge. We will not presume anything about the show just because we bring certain skills to the table". Again, credit to them for not running a mile!
Over time, and a few development workshops, Monkey Thought Translator became Fatherland. Slowly the identity and ingredients of the show came into focus.
I think it might have been the bravest and most ambitious I have ever been on a show. There was never a time when we allowed Fatherland to conform to an existing theatrical shape. It had to be its own thing. This happened through incredibly honest collaboration that existed throughout the creative team.
A huge part of the ambitious aspect of the show was the creation of the Chorus of Others, a community choir. I am immensely proud of how those people engaged, found a voice and supported each other (and the show itself).
The word I keep coming back to is ‘brave,' though. I remember watching the final performance in Manchester with Simon Stephens. The cast and Chorus totally nailed it but I remember getting most satisfaction at the realisation that we (Simon Stephens, Karl Hyde and myself) had achieved this because we had been brave. We did not compromise and pushed on determined to bring out something new and honest in each other.
Fatherland, in terms of production and process, is a show I am very proud of.