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, and to join them for a buffet, chat, drink and a dance after the show. Friends and neighbours pop in via video interviews.
How we made Susan & Darren
“We’ve known Darren since he was 12, and met Sue around the same time. Darren has also performed in Grace and something a taxi driver in Liverpool said… for Quarantine. In 2004, they 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 extraordinary stories so well, and are always interested 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 & riveting stories. The audience can take part in the pre-show workshop, ask questions during the mid-show discussion or chat 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 at Contact in Manchester. In May 2012, it had its 100th performance at the Norfolk & Norwich Festival and 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….”
Renny O’Shea & Richard Gregory, directors
“Go out of your way to see it.” Donald Hutera, The Times
“At times their closeness is almost unbearable. ‘What will you miss about me when I’m gone?’ Susan asks. ‘Most of all, dancing with you,’ says Darren.” Luke Jennings, The Observer
“Susan & Darren feels wonderfully fresh and unscripted: they just talk to us, even when they’re acknowledging how theatrical this is.” Zoe Anderson, The Independent
“In this brief 90 minutes they allow us to take part in their lives and you come away feeling like you have known them forever…with a buffet and disco thrown in, this really is a little gem of a show.” Craig Hepworth, What’s On Stage
“Words cannot do this living, breathing work justice. Go and experience it for yourself – it may change your life.” Charlotte Kasner, ballet.co.uk
“A beautiful, thought provoking piece of work.” Joan Davies, Manchester Confidential
“There’s a moment when Susan looks at Darren and your heart squeezes at the raw honesty of it.” Mary Brennan, The Herald
“It’s intimate, life-affirming, utterly magical and unmissable.” Noeleen Dowling, Irish Times
“The most heartwarming, vein-thrumming, uplifting show of this Festival.” Fiona McCann, Irish Times.com
“Striking in its simplicity and moving for its bare honesty. A moving and immensely satisfying night out.” Jesse Weaver, Irish Theatre Magazine
“This not so much a performance as a gift – one that comes straight from the heart.” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian
Recent tour dates
Auawirleben,Bern; Norfolk & Norwich Festival, Norwich; Theater Spektakel, Zurich; Festival a/d Werf, Utrecht; Heimspeil, Cologne ; CAMPO, Gent; Sadler’s Wells, London; Noorderzon Performing Arts Festival, Groningen; Kilkenny Arts Festival, Kilkenny.
It’s the best night out I can remember. This is poignancy unadorned. Extraordinary ordinary lives celebrating just being. Miriam King, Total Theatre magazine, January 2007
Credits and performance details
Performers: Darren Pritchard, Susan Pritchard
Directors Richard Gregory and Renny O'Shea; designer Simon Banham; writer Sonia Hughes; video artist Ruth Cross; choreographer Jane Mason; lighting designer Mike Brookes; sound designer Greg Akehurst.
Susan & Darren was co-produced by Quarantine and Company Fierce with Queer Up North and Contact. It was first performed at Contact in Manchester in May 2006 and supported by Arts Council England North West through Grants for the Arts and their art05 award for outstanding achievement. Susan & Darren toured the UK in 2006, 2007 & 2010. Tours were supported by ACE through Grants for the Arts.
Susan & Darren continues to tour internationally. For more information and to enquire about booking the show, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org