Francesca Millican-Slater – Stories To Tell In The Middle Of The Night

Stories to Tell in the Middle of the Night (REP trailer) from Pippa Frith on Vimeo.

Stories to Tell In The Middle Of The Night is an original piece of theatre written and performed by Francesca Millican-Slater. The project was commissioned by Birmingham Repertory Theatre and produced by Pippa Frith with support from Arts Council England and China Plate.

‘I’ll take you through the night. Its highs, its lows. Those frustrations. Turn on the light. Look at the time. Lets populate the long dark hours and the small light hours with stories, people. I’ll tell you tales that could be me, that could be you. Tales of lack of connection, loss of connection, too much connection. Connecting…’

A live late night radio show for those that can’t sleep, aren’t asleep. Instead of records, this DJ is spinning stories that exist between dusk and morning. Small stories, odd, true, funny and familiar, reflecting the night hours themselves.

I designed the sound for this piece which follows the format of a radio show where a series of short stories are ‘played’, punctuated with commentary and introductions by the ‘DJ”. The sound design consists of the DJ’s signature ‘music’, presented as a series of variations throughout the piece, and incidental sounds and atmospheres to support the stories, reflecting their mood and content. The work traces the arc of the night from dusk until dawn and references different designated ‘twilights’; nautical, astronomical, civil. It also explores our relationships with technology in the analogue and digital realms. The sound design draws on these ideas with the use of waves (sea and radio), analogue noise from vinyl and the kind of sounds used to aid sleep; fans, rain, white noise, air conditioners, drones etc.

Stories to Tell 1 credit Graeme Braidwood_web

Photo: Graeme Braidwood

The show had a successful run at Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2016 and received some favourable reviews:

**** The Stage – Natasha Tripney “A series of atmospheric small stories expertly delivered.”

**** Arts Award Voice – Ellen Orange “A beautiful hour of weird and wonderful storytelling”

**** The Scotsman “Sometimes fun, often bitter-sweet, all of which have a connection to the night and the moods of the night”

**** Festmag – Lewis Porteous “These seemingly unrelated tales amount to a sprawling exploration of sleeplessness and the various anxieties that can fall upon us during bouts of insomnia. … Millican-Slater ably captures the contemplative solitude of the early hours.”

*** Broadway Baby – Liam Heraghty “It’s an imaginative twist on dark bedtime stories, making them about anxiety, insomnia and loneliness which is ably supported by lighting and sound designers, Ben Pacey and Iain Armstrong.”

Stories To Tell In The Middle Of The Night will be performed at The Door, Birmingham Repertory Theatre from 9th-18th February 2017 and tour various West Midlands venues until March 2017.

**** What’s On Birmingham – Heather Kincaid “Through tales that are touching, funny, troubling or ridiculous, she holds up a mirror to the unspoken fears, frustrations and desires that haunt us in the middle of the night, playing with the magic of theatrical convention to create an atmosphere at once soporific and enthralling.”

**** The Reviews Hub – John Kennedy “Vignettes of vulnerability and vice, these lives less ordinary occupy a behavioral spectrum of extremes ranging from intimate eccentricity to the inchoate rage of unrequited narcissism. All equally compelling and convincing.”

**** Behind The Arras – Helen AnnettsThere is warmth, intimacy and familiarity to Francesca’s story telling that draws you in as if the story is just for you. … The sound track works with Francesca becoming a part of the stories, at times another voice, and also as a backing track.”