The Value of Nothing, an important new play about what it means to be poor in the UK today, comes to The Waterside Arts Centre, Sale on 19 October 2017during its tour of the North West, Cumbria and the Midlands.
The Value of Nothing explores the salient social issues of unemployment, the benefits system and welfare in the UK, informed by over 20 community group workshops with young men in Bolton.
The play comes as recent news reports claim that welfare reforms have driven an increase in homelessness across the UK by 135%, highlighting the topicality and importance of these themes. The performances of the play open shortly after the annual Conservative Party Conference 2017, that will also take place in Manchester on Sunday 1 October to Wednesday 4 October and will also be performed at the TUC Equality Conference, The Mechanics Institute, Manchester on Saturday 21 October.
Written by local playwright Kim Wiltshire, The Value of Nothing is a thought-provoking new play which explores the salient social issues of unemployment, the benefits systems and what it really means to be poor in the UK today.
The Value of Nothing is the story of a man who knew the price of everything, but the value of nothing. Ex-community artist and self-proclaimed people’s champion Vince Fine (Ethan Holmes) launches his back to work initiative, ArtWorks. Vowing to end poverty, benefits, worklessness and even mental health issues, Vince and his loyal sidekick Michelle (Jess Cummings) take on all-comers to persuade them that ArtWorks really works.
The Value of Nothing explores these issues through multimedia elements and lots of audience interaction, inviting the audience to play a range of minor characters in the play. The play’s script was informed by over 20 community group workshops with young men in Bolton, therefore the play is punctuated with stories from young people about their real-life experience of living on benefits in the UK. Mixing real-life and fictionalised stories, The Value of Nothing is a play about how we perceive people on benefits in the 21st Century.
The play is written by Kim Wiltshire, a local playwright who currently lives in Sale and is also a lecturer and Programme Leader for Creative Writing at Edge Hill University. Kim is passionate about using theatre to explore important social issues and to reach out to new audiences to use theatre as a public forum for debate. Speaking about the issues of the play, Kim says “What we value and who we value as a society has fascinated me for a long time. I do believe that theatre should ask questions of its audience, about where we see ourselves as human beings in our community and our society. If the play gets people talking and questioning each other about these issues, then I’ll consider it a success”.
The director of the play is the acclaimed Joyce Branagh, who won Best Fringe Performance in the Manchester Theatre Awards 2016 for her acting, writing and directing of Boomtown Gals. Her other directing credits include: The Ruck and Cinderella (Lawrence Batley); Much Ado About Nothing (Vienna’s English Theatre); Measure for Measure (Lancaster Castle); Still Ill and Under The Concrete Waiting (Lowry Theatre).
The full casting for The Value of Nothing includes Ethan Holmes as the central role Vince Fine, the leader of ArtWorks; alongside Jess Cummings, as Michelle Devlin; Curtis Cole, as Mikey Di Angelis; and Samantha Siddall as Sophie Fine, who starred as Mandy Maguire in Shameless for 10 years.
Ethan adds “The idea that tax paying citizens don’t want to be supporting the lifestyles of those on benefits infuriates me. That’s why I auditioned to be a part of the play – to show the benefits that socially supportive services can provide to the poor”.
The play will tour this Autumn at five venues across the North West, Cumbria and the West Midlands from 10 October to 8 November 2017. The venues include The Arts Centre, Ormskirk, The Old Fire Station, Carlisle, Waterside Arts Centre, Sale, the Trades Union Congress North West Equality Conference, and the Old Joint Stock Pub and Theatre Venue, Birmingham.
Thursday 19th October: 7.30pm at Waterside Arts Centre
Waterside Arts Centre
1 Waterside Plaza
Phone: 0161 912 5616
Tickets: £10, £8 concessions
Saturday 21st October at TUC Equality Conference
The Mechanics Institute
103 Princess Street