Lizzie-Nunnery

Get under the skin (and behind the curtain) of future theatre this week, as Everyword festival infests the city with thrilling workshops, interventions and readings which may, or may not inhabit our theatre stages in seasons to come.

By sharing the creative process with theatre-goers, writers and actors alike, Everyword aims to demystify – democratise, even – that magical alchemy that happens when a great story meets a great production and transforms us, temporarily, to another space and time.

“Having events that are not in the theatre is crucial to Everyword,” says event programmer Lyndsay Rodden, EverymanPlayhouse’s Literary Associate.

“We’re about bringing audiences together – people who love music but who might not ordinarily think about theatre, or people who love comedy, or story telling… we want to show how diverse and captivating new theatre can be.”

This year, with no Everyman to call home, the event is centred on the Playhouse, but much of the stand-out shows will be taking place around the city. Lizzie Nunnery (main pic) will be performing her stunning new album, Black Hound Howling, with a specially written narrative piece, at the Nordic Church. A must see, in our opinion.

There’s a secret location in town where playwright Jeff Young will be in residence, together with the accumulated flotsam and jetsam of his mind: the event’s not called Jeff’s Brain for nothing.

Wander in (you can pick up a map to the secret location) and take an inner journey towards the man and his muse. And if he’s in a good mood, he might even pop the kettle on.

Back at Playhouse HQ a huge tent has been erected in the theatre bar – home to a travelling band of itinerant minstrels and performers. Here, at the festival’s hub, there’ll be daily readings, Q and A sessions, card-playing and joke telling. And, well, drinking, obviously.

“It’s in our blood to tell stories, and festivals like this show how collaborative the theatre really is. We try to bring together people who want to say something passionate about the world around them, be it political or personal, and to see if it resonates with others. It’s a conversation.”

It’s a conversation that’s led, in the past, to fruitful commissions such as Tiny Volcanoes, the superb piece by Everyman’s own Laurence Wilson, which transferred to New York after an Everyword reading in 2010.

Other events to look out for include a day long workshop with internationally acclaimed Complicite theatre group, the Everyword Lecture with Gemma Bodinetz and Liverpool’s theatrical Premier League stars Lizzie Nunnery, Helen Blakeman and Jeff Young – to talk about how they make theatre in the city, and beyond.

Spike Theatre’s Mark Smith (pic r) will lead a practical day-long session looking at how to make creative ideas bloom, and every night at 7pm, Picture a City takes a photograph of Liverpool as the starting point for a new piece of writing by a Liverpool writer, including the EverymanPlayhouse’s three writers on attachment (Joe Ward Munrow, James Harker and Luke Barnes).

“Liverpool embraces cross-pollination,” Rodden says, “and we embrace new ways of doing things. This is about getting people to think about that story they’ve always wanted to tell, but haven’t had the confidence to think about it as a piece of theatre. There is nothing mysterious about it. Playwriting is just a structure.”

It’s a structure that starts its journey, Rodden says, at Everyword. “There’s no city like Liverpool for artists to tell their stories. The theatre is our natural home.”

“Theatres aren’t taking risks any more. Literary departments are closing. New scripts aren’t being commissioned,” Rodden says with a sigh, “We have to stay hungry. Theatre is what we do. And events like this are essential, if we’re to remain relevant and true.”

If you want a front row seat for the 2014 season, this is the place to start.

For a full list of what’s on, where, visit the website where you’ll find the official festival guide.

Everyword Festival
to 27 October
Various venues
Liverpool