‘Go Between’ at the Young Vic
Written by Archie Maddocks
Created with the Neighbourhood Theatre Company
Directed by Anna Girvan
Inspired by Isango Ensemble’s A Man of Good Hope, the Taking Part community show Go Between was comprised of cast who were either currently homeless or had previously experienced homelessness. The production focused on the meaning of ‘home’, and was a collaboration between the 30 cast member’s own experiences. Worked-shopped over a 4 month period, these narratives were, quite literally, strung together.
The director Anna Girvan told the Young Vic: “We hope that this production will give an insight to how we are all just people, people who want to love, live, experience life, shout, stomp, sit in silence, be challenged and listened to, respected and deserve that basic human right; a home.”
The show opened with a beautiful, silent movement of cast members across the stage following a slow moving light. Almost like passengers of a ship along a narrow wooden stage.
Cleverly staged, the first number was a musical rendition of homelessness abruptly stopped by a heckling audience member yelling out “What is this? Homelessness By Disney?” (Members of the company were actually scattered throughout the audience, bringing us directly into the play).
Scenes were typically between three or four cast members, and while they focused in on one story–the play consciously tied different experiences together. The stories were incredibly moving, vulnerable, humorous, and honest.
One that stands out was when a woman sat two seats to my left was suddenly under a spotlight, methodically knitting a small scarf in her lap. She spoke in Spanish, describing the night she fled her house away from an abusive partner in a foreign country. With nowhere to go. No one to speak to. No place to stay safe. A man sat in the audience across the stage from her translated the account into English, but we could receive much of its meaning in the way this woman delivered the accounts of her life.
Twenty years after she had first become homeless, on the eve of finally finding her own home again, her contract fell through and she was made homeless once again.
“Who controls the yarn of our destinies?”
Triggers exist everywhere, throughout our lives. No matter who you are or where you are, becoming dispossessed is possible.
Go Between forced its audience to consider our own vulnerability, our own responsibility, and our own complicity in the daily violation of human rights.
At the Platform Southwark gallery around the corner, Jordan Lee’s stunning photographs of the cast were on display. Lee spent 3 months with the company during the process of creating Go Between.
John Watts, one of Go Between’s central performers and writers, is someone I’ve gotten to know through our joint work on E.M.M.A.: a magazine for residents of Arlington House in Camden. We worked on a graphic pamphlet together which can be viewed here: (). He was kind enough to distribute the pamphlet at Platform Southwark, as there was overlap between some of his monologue in Go Between and the text in our pamphlet. One of the most striking things that John told me during one of our meetings, and that was reiterated in Go Between, is that for many people–homelessness is not a question of IF but WHEN. Homelessness is a systemic issue–not individual cases of bad luck or bad choices.
John’s final line of Go Between has become the inspiration for the pamphlet title:
“We are not the homeless, but the dispossessed.”
More on Go Between, including beautiful photographs of the cast taken by Jordan Lee:
Words by Mica Schlosser.