First her new play The Sum was staged at the Everyman as part of its inaugural rep season. And now just weeks later, prolific Liverpool playwright and songwriter Lizzie Nunnery is back with a second new production – this time just down the road at the Unity.
Horny Handed Sons of Toil is inspired by the late painter and poet Adrian Henri, in the 50th anniversary year of The Mersey Sound.
Lizzie will appear in the show – which explores through spoken word, live music and film, what has been lost and found in the re-sculpting of the Liverpool landscape over the past 50 years - alongside musicians Martin Heslop, Martin Smith and Vidar Norheim.
“It’s a very different piece of work to The Sum,” Lizzie explained earlier this season. “I think the overlap is that it’s about Liverpool 8, which is where The Sum is set, it’s about Toxteth, but it’s a very different approach in terms of performing style.
“It’s really lovely that I’m writing poetry for it rather than a script. I love writing scripts but it feels like a nice break to do something completely different with the text on the page.
“So it’s going to be me performing live poetry with my usual collaborators Vidar and Martin, who are composing a live soundtrack. And I think I’ll be singing within it as well.
“We’ve also got a really great documentary film-maker called Tim Brunsden who is out in Toxteth getting documentary material, interviewing people in the streets and at community events and asking them how they feel about Liverpool 8 now and then. The event is linked to the anniversary of The Mersey Sound so it’s about that area and how it’s grown and come under pressure in the last 50 years.
“It’s been really lovely, because reading Adrian Henri’s poetry about Liverpool 8, and there’s a lot of it, there’s all these themes emerging about growth, literally plants, growing out of the pavement, trees growing out of houses. He had the idea that if you look at a place where you fell in love maybe a tree’s going to sprout out of the window in celebration. And then also images of fire and destruction.
“And you look at the history of the area, that’s exactly what you get. And that’s exactly what people talk about to do with Liverpool 8.”
Trees growing out of houses? It sounds rather like Assemble which won the Turner Prize for its work regenerating the Granby area, including a winter garden.
“It’s almost like Adrian Henri wrote it and it happened,” Lizzie agrees. “All the pieces fit together. And whenever you talk to people in Liverpool 8 about the future, they keep talking about ‘we’re planting trees. We’ve got community gardens, and this isn’t going to look like this in 10 years’ time.’ Which is really exciting.”
Following its run at the Unity, the show is due to tour this autumn.
Horny Handed Tons of Soil is at the Unity Theatre from July 13-15. Tickets are £14/£12 and half price for L8 residents, from the website HERE.