Apocalypse now in a basement near you
It's the end of the world. Amid the ruins of Hull, two men have holed up in a bunker.
Blackout – by Joe Hakim – is among a series of dramas being staged at Hull Truck Theatre this week.
The play, which Joe describes as "a post-apocalyptic comedy drama", forms part of Theatre Brothel 2.0.
This four-day series of performances – a co-production between Truck and London theatre company Greyscale – makes use of the "unseen" spaces within the Ferensway theatre.
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Last year's Theatre Brothel – the first held at Truck – saw areas such as the green room and backstage areas becoming the site for performances.
Joe's play, starring Martyn Dempsey and Ben Whitehead, will be staged in the theatre's basement.
"It is about giving the audience an experience, as well as a performance," said Joe, a spoken word poet from west Hull.
"And, for me, it is quite punk rock in approach – here's a space, what can you do with it?
"It allows you to play with the perception of what theatre is and to blur the boundaries between audiences and performers."
This year's event will see six different dramas staged every night, with visitors able to chose two shows to watch.
Other writers from Hull include Sarah Davies, who runs Park Bench Theatre company.
Blackout is Joe's first full- length play and also marks his first experience of directing.
"It is a lot of responsibility – and they've got a lot of faith in me, as I've no track record of directing or writing a full-length play," he said.
"For them to say they'll help me and put their trust in me is quite a big deal for me."
The play was, Joe said: "A great example of timing."
He had already been working on the drama when he heard about the auditions for scripts – and had tested a ten-minute excerpt at Fruit in Humber Street, Hull, which hosts regular "script in hand" readings of new dramas.
"Greyscale works in quite an unconventional way – it allowed me to be me, nobody tried to dictate, so I got a lot of freedom," said Joe.
"A script is just a bit of paper with words on it until you get the chance to develop it, so I have been very fortunate for that to happen."
The performance will include designs created by artist Domanic Li, showing scenes from a post-apocalyptic Hull including landmarks such as the Humber Bridge.
For Joe – who recently returned from a three-week stint performing his poetry at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – has found directing a "huge learning curve".
"Up to now, I've been writing for my own performances," he said.
"This is about stepping back and putting words in other people's mouths – it has been hard work, and pressured, but watching it develop has been an exciting thing.
"I've go the bug for it now. It's like having a new set of toys to play with."