On Monday evening 2nd September 2013, BlueStreak Arts in collaboration with Bordello Theatre gave a superb performance of a production called Visio. It was staged at the Harris Flights in Market Place, Preston. The performance was set in the late 19th century when the town of Preston was left a three hundred thousand pound bequest by philanthropist Edmund Harris. The story tells the tale of the brainchild of architect James Hibbert to construct the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, and how the Shambles and surrounding property was demolished to make way for the planned palatial building.Advertisement
The play goes on to show how the people of Preston, from cotton worker to dignitaries, reacted to the news of the proposed Harris building. Initially, the inhabitants of the Shambles area lamented the passing of their beloved alleyways, public houses and shops that were demolished in the process. However, when they learned of the wondrous art, sculpture and antiquaries that were to be placed there, and the books in the free library that they would have access to, they began to rejoice in Hibbert’s conceptual masterpiece.
The story continued to describe in a comedic way how the ghosts of Robert and Edmund Harris, father and son, did not really take Hibbert’s ideas very seriously and appeared to be bemused by the whole affair.
The production was very cleverly arranged to enable the audience to appreciate, by way of dance, animation and song, how Preston received the news of the Harris legacy and Hibbert’s architectural innovation.
At the finale, the 19th century characters all disrobe to show that they are now their own descendants in the present day. Dressed in garb which is fitting for this era, they reveal that they now have modern technology such as mobile phones and the like. However the Harris Museum and Art Gallery has withstood the passage of time and still exists in all its glory for the people of Preston to enjoy.
Without a doubt, this was an extremely wonderful performance by the whole company of actors, musicians and behind the scenes associates. Graham Easterlow, the creative director of BlueStreak Arts, must be congratulated on his excellent concept of blending history with imagination and fabulous artistic performance.
Review and photography by Paul D. Swarbrick and Gillian A. Lawson.
Did you attend this event and if so, what are your views on this performance? Let us know in the comments section below.