The beautiful spa town of Harrogate in Yorkshire is hosting a ghost walk with a difference this summer… spectres and shades, some (but not all) from the distant past. Some are haunting the life of Harrogate now… and some are haunted by the town itself. Haunt: a story-walk through Harrogate, with music and performance is by Imove Arts, in partnership with Harrogate Theatre and the Pump Room Museum. It will take audiences on a tour around the town in search of spirits. They will be glimpsed – or heard whispering – in Valley Gardens, The Pump Room Museum, The Cenotaph, The Theatre, on the streets, at ASDA and under bridges. Finally arriving at a mystery location where an installation/ performance will ask ‘who are the ghosts? Who are the haunted?’
The Guardian has selected the production as one of its Top Tickets for this week.
Through 2015, Imove worked with two established writers, Stephen Toase and Becky Cherriman (pictured below), who were brought up in Harrogate and have experienced homelessness in the town. The early part of the project helped homeless people in Harrogate to tell stories and poems about their lives, their places, their dreams for the future. This work, with images by photographer Paul Floyd Blake, was published in an anthology, launched with a series of readings and included in an exhibition at the Royal Pump Rooms Museum.
In a recent survey, 64% of people in Harrogate believed that homelessness was not a significant problem in the town. Yet homeless charities receive hundreds of referrals each year. Homelessness haunts the town’s life, present yet invisible.
Haunt will engage a live audience in seeing this in a new way, a journey which is unsettling, spectral, funny, beautiful. The walking audience hear a soundtrack over headphones, stories, poems, characters, ambient music/soundscape. A child with polio … an actress… a dragon… a pregnant girl in the swinging sixties… the Empress Consort of Russia… a head waiter. Ghosts of a town, past and present.
Music by DJ Kwah
Performances: 30th June till 2nd July, at 2pm, 5pm and 8pm. The 2pm performances will be suitable for families, and will include a tour of the Pump Room Museum in search of local ghost stories.
HAUNT is part of the Harrogate Theatre ‘2’s Company’ season of theatre in unexpected places and unconventional spaces. It was shortlisted for the Saboteur Awards 2016.