Niall Ransome: “We have a responsibility to tell stories of real people”

Writer/director Niall Ransome on creating FCUK’D, the story of a teenage runaway, which is playing at The Bunker this December.

1 / 1

“It is estimated that around 100,000 children run away from home every year. Most stay away for between one and three nights, but some stay away for much longer. FCUK’D sort of grew from an idea I had while I was visiting my old school and seeing friends I hadn’t seen in years. This statistic played on my mind and the idea sort of went on from there.

“I was itching to get back to theatre I saw when I was younger. Plays about real people. I still think we don’t hear the working-class voice in theatre enough. It works so well on the stage as it’s a passionate voice. It’s loud and proud and very expressive. I spent a lot of time changing my own accent to suit whatever play I was doing. With FCUK’D I could tap back into it again.

“FCUK’D started as a 15-minute monologue I wrote while at drama school. Since then it has grown into an hour-long one-man play written entirely in verse.

“It follows the story of two lads who decide to run away from their council estate home in search of a better life. Avoiding daily encounters with the authorities, the boy and his little brother can only rely on each other. Having nowhere else to turn, they must keep on the move to avoid being found.

“I’m excited to bring the play to The Bunker. It’s a fantastic theatre that champions new voices and focuses on programming plays with strong messages. Built in an old car park, the space is perfect for that more earthy, grittier feel.

“I think Christmas adds to the play greatly. It heightens the stakes. It takes place over December and hammers home the point that issues don’t take holidays. Christmas is a time of year for family and giving and this is a play all about family and the importance of looking after each other, no matter what.

“FCUK’D is supported by Hull City of Culture 2017, but I don’t see it as a ‘depressing northern play’. It’s a celebration of human spirit, love and loyalty. Hull has a rich history in theatre. The plays I saw growing up there have inspired me most. Although the play is set in Hull, the character is named Boy. The growing issue itself is greater than the one city; it happens all over.

“I want an audience to feel they’ve built a relationship with these characters and to show them that our initial reactions to someone may not be entirely correct. I want them to have a strong opinion of the Boy when they first see him and then it’s the play that changes their mind. By the end, they hopefully have an understanding of him that they initially didn’t.

“We do this in life all the time. We cast judgement when we don’t know the full story. We ignore someone on the street or another on the tube. A headline in a newspaper does enough to warrant a strong reaction about someone, but without reading it we don’t fully understand. We don’t take the time.

“In a world of blockbuster movies and special effects we have a responsibility to still tell stories of real people.”

FCUK’D runs at The Bunker from 11 to 30 December.