Theatre Royal Margate and UK Arts International are commissioning John Retallack to research and develop material for a new play called Hannah and Hanna in Dreamland. This follows on from his 2001 play, Hannah and Hanna (‘[a] little scorcher’, Lyn Gardner, The Guardian), which premiered at Theatre Royal Margate in June 2001 and subsequently had a long and successful history both in the UK and internationally, winning a Herald Angel Award, the Race in the Media Award and nominated for the TMA Award for Best Show for Young People. Hannah and Hanna in Dreamland, will further explore the friendship between the two young women, one from Margate and the other an immigrant from Kosovo who found friendship through a shared love of pop music. Picking up the girls’ story fifteen years on, Hannah and Hanna in Dreamland looks at their lives against a backdrop of Thanet in 2015, where racism and prejudice still flourish despite creeping gentrification:
In 2001, Hanna said to Hannah, ‘You don’t see Margate like me. It’s a beautiful town. One day other people will go there and they will see it too.’
Now Hannah and Hanna are both 30 and Margate is turning into a beautiful town. East Europeans are settling down, Londoners are moving in, there are galleries and coffee shops, Dreamland is reopening – and UKIP hold their annual conference in the Winter Gardens.
Margate Hannah is still singing; she sings for her daughter, she sings on ferry boats, she sings for anyone who hires her. Pristina Hanna hasn’t sung since she last saw Hannah. She’s on the run from a dreadful marriage and she’s come back to Margate. Why? It’s the last place she can remember feeling strong and happy. And this time she’s staying put. But ‘staying put’ is even more difficult than it was before…
Hannah and Hanna in Dreamland is a co-production between UK Arts International and Theatre Royal, Margate. It will enable both organisations to develop links with various local communities, many of which are typically hard to reach, and involve them in the creation of a piece of work which relates specifically to their locality, thereby integrating them into the cultural life of the area. At a time when Thanet District Council is controlled by UKIP, this process is an important part of the Theatre Royal’s role in fostering social cohesion.
The project will enable John Retallack to spend time in Margate and Kosovo and to work with local partners to develop the play to a rehearsed reading to be shared with local contributors and other interested parties, including potential presenters and co-producers.
The aim is that Hannah and Hanna in Dreamland will tour in tandem with the original 2001 hit Hannah and Hanna, with the same two actresses playing both the young and the old Hanna/Hannah.
July 2015 – John Retallack’s first visit to Margate (2 days) – meeting with possible partners,
September 2015 – John Retallack’s second visit to Margate (2 days) – in depth meetings with those who will contribute to the writing process
October 2015 – John Retallack to visit to Pristina, Kosovo (7 days) – working with the International Theatre Institute and the British Council to identify organizations and individuals who can contribute to the process
November 2015 – John Retallack’s third visit to Margate (2 days) – meet with groups and individuals locally to complete the research process
Beginning of January 2016 – sharing the results of the process at Dreamland with those who have participated and venues from the South East.
The aim is to premier the finished show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2016.