“Unknown”, a play inspired by the stories of Big Issue vendors, has had it’s first outing as a stage play in Autumn 2021 after being delayed due to the nationwide lockdowns.
The play that tells the story of one young person’s dramatic journey from an abusive childhood into a life of homelessness in Bath.
The show has been written by playwright Dougie Blaxland with the assistance of Chris Taylor, a member of the sales and outreach team at The Big Issue in Bath, and six people based in the area who have recent experience of homelessness. These experiences included those of Big Issue vendors Ian Duff, Lloyd ‘Posty’ Rusdale and Anthony Williams. The production, which incorporates their words and experiences, is staged with their consent and support.
Ian Duff said “It was quite a poignant story. I was quite touched by it. What really hit me was the statistics and the amount of unknown deaths on the streets. It’s quite frightening because and that is what saddened me the most.”
Originally scheduled for 2020, the production was halted due to ongoing nationwide lockdowns and was instead adapted as an audio performance for radio. It was broadcast across the UK by radio and theatre outlets including The Belgrade Theatre Coventry, The Greenwich Theatre London, Salford Arts, Theatre Royal Bath and South Street Studio Reading.
The radio drama received rave reviews from critics and listeners, including the acclaimed film director Ken Loach who said:“Harrowing stories eloquently told-all the more shocking because we know them to be true.”
The entire team behind the production were delighted to finally be able to take to the stage in September and October 2021 with performances in London, Bristol and Bath.
Dougie said: “From all the people I spoke to, the one unifying theme of positivity has been those who have been involved and engaged with The Big Issue. It’s really interesting that The Big Issue seems to have given people self-respect, an identity, an opportunity to come off the streets and so on.