Susan & Darren

An ‘event with dancing’, Susan & Darren was created with and performed by dancer Darren Pritchard and his mum, Susan, a cleaner.  Audiences are invited to help Susan and Darren prepare for a party, join them for a buffet, chat, drink and a dance after the show. Friends and neighbours pop in via video interviews.

"Go out of your way to see it.”
Donald Hutera, The Times

How we made it

“We've known Darren since he was 12 and met Sue around the same time. Darren also performed in Grace and something a taxi driver in Liverpool said... for Quarantine.  In 2004, they both came to see White Trash. After the show, Darren asked us if we’d make a show with him and his mum. We usually start our process with something personal to one of us, but we knew them and their stories well, and were interested at that moment in interrogating ‘family’ - so we thought we’d give it a try.

In some ways they have led extraordinary lives – and at the same time, very ordinary indeed.  Like most of us.  They dance, bicker, tell banal and riveting stories. The audience took part in the pre-show workshop, asked questions during the mid-show discussion* or chatted to Susan and Darren over the post-show buffet. 

We spent 15 months meeting, working and talking - in the studio, on a trip to Blackpool and over numerous portions of Sue's fabulous Shepherd's Pie in their house in Fallowfield. We launched the project with a tea party at their house and devised the piece over six weeks in Manchester in May 2006, working closely with writer Sonia Hughes and choreographer Jane Mason. 

We thought that Susan & Darren might play for a week-and-a half as part of Queer Up North at Contact in Manchester.  6 years later, in May 2012, it had its 100th performance - we estimate that it's been seen by around 10,000 people in 9 countries. And that means that about 1000 people across Europe can dance the Barry White.  Those of you who've done it will know exactly what we mean....

A decade on, Sue has retired from cleaning and is loving her life as a great-grandma in Fallowfield, surrounded by family and friends.  Darren continues to do extraordinary work as a performer, director and producer, and as a leading light in Manchester’s Vogue Ball and Black Gold Arts Festival.”
Renny O’Shea & Richard Gregory, co-directors

*We have something of an aversion to the formulaic post-show discussion convention.  So in Susan & Darren we decided to put it halfway through….