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Inspired by the original Humans of New York, Humans of Shakespeare North Playhouse aims to document as many of the wonderful people who walk through our building each day. Giving a glimpse into who they are and the story they have to share. Meet Mikey, a Liverpudlian rapper starring in their debut show ‘Who’s Afraid of Mikey Garland’ at Shakespeare North Playhouse #HumansOfShakespeareNorthPlayhouse
‘The show is a true story about my life. I was homeless between 2010 and 2012 and it’s not just about my experiences but also the people that I met in the hostels when I was homeless. It’s about shifting our perspective on what homelessness is and what causes it, and trying to de-bunk some of these stereotypes that we have about homelessness as well.
‘There are a few different types of homelessness. The most visible is rough sleepers so those are the visible ones that we see on the street, and that’s the most dangerous form of homelessness. Then there is statutory homelessness, so that could be anyone living in a hostel any unstable accommodation like couch surfing that kind of thing. Then there’s people at imminent risk as well of homelessness.
‘For a year I was couch surfing just staying at people’s houses with no stable place to go and then I went into hostels. It really feels as though the system is built to make people fail, and by having some perspective and analysis of that system, we can start our work of trying to change it so that we can make it better.
‘There’s no magical path that can get you out of those situations. I was very lucky, I met someone who I wasn’t initially very compatible with. When I came out of the hostel I had so much trauma and I was in a very weird state, I just didn’t care anymore and I just gave up caring about anything, I didn’t really have much faith in society. Then I broke up from that relationship and I met my current partner, John Maguire. We started an arts company called Arts Groupie CIC who are producing the show that I’m doing at Shakespeare North Playhouse. He was in a bad place, and I was in a bad place, but we had so much in common and together we revived each other and restored each other’s faith in what we could do. We both learnt that we had lots of skill, and we had some self-worth. Together we’ve built this really successful company, he’ recently done Kitty Queen of The Washhouse at Shakespeare North which was a sold out show, we’re just so lucky. I feel with that luck comes a bit of responsibility as well, so I feel responsible to give back and help other people up the ladder.
‘Arts Groupie CIC is a community interest company that is helping to promote and provide access to the arts where it’s limited. We go into high deprivation areas where people might not have access to the arts and we either make it free or we make it as low cost as possible so that it’s accessible. With the show, it sounds like a really heavy topic, but while there are some really harrowing stories in it, I try to deal with it with humour. It’s very theatrical, very queer- so if you like things like Ru Paul’s Drag race you’re going to love the costuming in this show, there’s 11 costumes. I’m really psyched for this!
I hope people will come away from this show with a different perspective on poverty and homelessness in Britain, and that we can learn to see the value in other people that we may not otherwise see value in. We often dismiss people who fall through the cracks but there’s reasons for that, so the show points out some of the systemic issues and the system failures that causes people to end up in those kinds of predicaments.’