No Such Thing – A Conversation with a Stranger

No Such Thing happens once a month inside Kabana, Back Turner Street, Manchester. A stranger buys you lunch in exchange for a half an hour conversation and this month, I went along. I wasn’t too sure what to expect or how I would even feel about this but it’s an experience everyone must try at least once.

You were given a ‘menu of topics’ – a starter, main course, dessert and special. I had to pick a topic from each section to talk about and if I didn’t like the topics in a particular section, I could pick the special. The ‘starter’ topic I selected was ‘small gestures’, my ‘main course’ about ‘winning and losing’ and for ‘dessert’, ‘how this time will be remembered’. All accompanied by a lentil curry to consume whilst we talked.

When I was being told about how I would choose the topics and how we would talk about them, I didn’t think the actual conversation would waver so much as it did. We covered a lot of topics in the short time we had, politics, religion, life goals, friendships, sexuality, the past and the future. We even dipped into a conversation about public transportation. The thirty minutes we were talking felt like a lot longer. I wish it did go on for longer now looking back, just to see where the conversation would have taken me.

I took away inspiration more than anything and a new way to look at things. My opinions on the topics we covered haven’t changed and I believe in what I believe in strongly. But how I look at people has definitely changed. Everyone has a story and I think I will always be a little bit curious now of strangers I pass, wondering if they have had any exciting experiences or tales to tell or some wise words to pass along.

Talking to a stranger is easy online, but can you do it in real life? I never thought I could, but I have done. I’d suggest to anyone who’s willing to step out of their comfort zone to go along to No Such Thing and have a conversation with a stranger and see where the conversation takes you.

words Rizwana Ali

photography Kate Daley

REVIEW: NG 83 – When We Were B-Boys

Affectionately described by co-director Claude Knight as ‘Beat Coronation Street’, When We Were B-Boys is not just a retrospective documentary on hip hop culture and the B-Boy Movement of the 1980s, it is a humorous and often poignant look at the human condition. It’s a character study and the characters in question are as interesting as they come.

From Dancing Danny and his mother, to eccentric collector Electro Barry, to the tragic story of Lloyd ‘K.I.D’ McDevitt, found dead in a park aged 41, the film sheds some light on the people behind the movement – both the major and minor players. It explores the different ways they were affected by the culture that shaped their youth and how it continues to affect their lives and the lives of those around them even today.

Hip-hop culture may have been born in New York a decade earlier, but the film takes us to Nottingham in 1983 when the B-Boys ruled the streets. It takes us to a world of boom boxes and breakdancing, crews and crazes. It takes us to Rock City and beyond. When We Were B-Boys is a raw and moving depiction of what happened to the B-Boys after the beat finally broke for good.

by Daniel Lamb as part of the Young Producer program



REVIEW: 21,000 Miles of Rail

An engaging performance from an artist named Hannah Butterfield showed us what we all take for granted; the daily drudgery of commuting, toing and froing to the same places at the same times, the routine and regiment of journeys. This concept was explored in a fun and enjoyable way through ‘21,000 Miles of Rail’.

Utilising the audience as additional characters in the performance, we were transported (literally) from the railway station waiting room through a journey of carriages, lives and connections by our railway experiences. The suggestion of familiarity with each of the audience, although a little strange at first, built the performance as we, the viewer, became more confident in the engagement eventually positively seeking eye contact to be the next link in the chain of carriages.

Clever use of the Manchester ‘metro’ newspaper ‘rush hour crushes’ and ‘thank yous’ created recognition  for all; reading the snippets whilst whiling away time; secretly thinking it could be about me, or someone I know. Nicely presented monologues and elements of song and dance created a multi faceted performance, even down to the toy train on the track gently chugging along whilst Hannah completed a modern dance routine: twisting and tumbling, jumping and leaping across and around the tracks.

The character created for me was the teen, head phones in, oblivious to the world at large, wrapped up in my bubble of music from ‘The 1975’, gently head nodding  and toe tapping. She chose well, almost as if she knew me. My character missed the rail announcements and his train. Sounds familiar!

An all round enjoyable performance with a mix of madness and magic to bring the characters alive. Believable and relatable to all who attended.

by Aston Buckley as part of the Young Producer program

’21 Thousand Mile of Rail’ by Hannah Butterfield was at M6 Theatre Company, Rochdale in October 2016