‘Innit’ is a hard-core tale of triumph in the face of adversity.
Set in Salford – one of the most deprived cities in England – and based on real life, ‘Innit’ revolves around teenager Ashley Thomas.
Against the backdrop of a Salford council estate, the story introduces the audience to Ashley and ‘The Scallies’ who, whilst being prominent antagonists throughout the play, bring hilarious comedy through their characters, shadowing the overriding darkness of the setting and story.
The plot explores Ashley’s issues and frustrations, having been born into a dysfunctional working-class family, with an alcoholic mother who struggles to keep Ashley’s violent and criminal father at bay.
When he returns home one day to find his mother annihilated, clutching a letter with his name on it, he can’t help but satisfy his curiosity.
He opens the letter and it’s from his dad. He’s unaware that his dad’s visited and knocked his mum out; but he’s too angry to even think about that.
Instead, he has a huge argument with his girlfriend, Stacey, and he storms out of the house, where he meets ‘The Scallies’ who wind him up even more.
Overcome with anger, he finds himself caught up in organising a robbery, during which he’s framed for stabbing the legendary music manager and shop owner, Johnny King, landing himself a prison sentence.
In prison, Ashley’s introduced to music and has an opportunity to learn the guitar, which he’s always wanted to do. This gives him an outlet for hope and helps him to realise the error of his ways.
However, his turmoil is intensified when he’s visited in prison by Stacey, who’s now pregnant. She tells him that she’s considering having an abortion and this tips Ashley over the edge.
1. We hope to stage a mid-scale production of our musical issue-based play ‘INNIT’ at The Lowry’s Quays Theatre in September 2023, reaching c. 5,400 young people aged 12-14 in Salford, FOR FREE.
It’s unprecedented. We’re booked in for a two-week run:
- 11 matinee performances
- FREE tickets
- FREE transport & FREE refreshments/programme/merchandise for every child.
Young people, parents and schools shouldn’t have to worry about finding money for their child to experience a theatre production that’s a direct investment in capital culture and profoundly impacts them and the choices they make, for the rest of their lives.
Supported by Salford’s elected Mayor, Paul Dennett, we’ll jointly pledge that ALL Year 8 and Year 9 pupils in Salford will see ‘Innit:Musical’ at The Lowry and experience the educational workshops, irrespective of their social status, exclusion status or economic position.
2. To stage a mid-scale production of our musical issue-based play ‘INNIT’ around Greater Manchester in January 2025, to reach around 60,000 young people aged 12-14, FOR FREE.
We’ll achieve number 1 first; then roll the model out and seek the same pledge from Greater Manchester’s Metro Mayor, Andy Burnham. Public seat sales will partially subsidise the matinees.
3. To tour a large-scale production of our musical issue-based play
‘INNIT’ to 40 venues, nationwide by 2027, reaching a minimum of
120,000 young people aged 12-14, FOR FREE.
We’ll achieve number 2 first; then roll the model out nationwide, seeking similar pledges from elected Metro Mayors across the country. Public seat sales will partially subsidise the matinees.
4. To decrease the rate of school exclusions in England, by influencing
our young audiences to empower themselves by acquiring an
education and as a result, contribute positively to society.
There will be no cost to schools and the impact will be academically tracked:
We’ll be impacting young people via four incremental stages of contact:
- Delivery of pre-production year-group assemblies.
- Presentation of a professional piece of hard-hitting, educational theatre that actually speaks to those underdeveloped, detached audiences, allowing for them to be enriched by their discovery of the theatre experience, without patronising them.*
- Post-production drama workshops for ALL attendees, that will challenge their cognition and sensitise the real-life situations from the play.**
- In the classroom – by providing fully resourced, differentiated and most importantly, engaging and relevant curriculum-based schemes of work.
* For a fair percentage of attendees, despite residing in Salford, this will be their first visit to Salford Quays, let alone The Lowry Theatre!
** These workshops will be facilitated by professional practitioners, with the additional support of a fully qualified psychotherapist.
This means that every Year 8 and 9 pupil in England will experience a diversionary piece of theatre and a workshop, along with curriculum-focused schemes of work that bolster the play’s themes, hopefully preventing their future exclusion and entry into the Criminal Justice System.
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
“Written from the heart, with character’s experiences and feelings portrayed with pinpoint accuracy…
…Ashley makes you want to hug a hoodie…
…Full of fun and the catchy songs all have a clearly spoken message…
Captures the essence of human nature on the mean streets.”
“Rough and ready, what an irresistible slice of life.”
“The themes – institutionalisation, the dole and being drawn into a life of crime – are involving and the show has plenty of heart. The message that society should do more to rehabilitate its ex-cons sounds loud and clear.”
“Like Lionel Bart’s Oliver! ‘Innit’ proves there is fun to be had matching a life of petty criminality to some indelibly jaunty melodies…
…There’s no question that ‘Innit’, which began life as a youth project, is a positive initiative…
…Gutsy enough to have the target audience of local teenagers whooping with recognition…
…It gets kids excited about going to the theatre…that’s what it’s all about – innit?
“A young lad’s journey into a life of crime on the streets of Salford may seem like an odd bedfellow for the musical genre, but this heartfelt show gets it right…
…Ashley Thomas is such a well written and fully rounded character, that it’s hard not to be involved with his plight…
…The gang members, who run up the steps, intimidating the audience are wonderful as they turn the stereotype on its head by the end of the show, making their characters incredibly likable…
…Freshness and vitality makes ‘Innit’ well worth seeing.”
“The fact is that I was greatly impressed by the ambition of ‘Innit’ and by the boldness with which it tackles it’s subjects. I particularly liked the whole of ‘The Scallies’ element and felt that this had a freshness and theatrical immediacy about it and that this tone was perfect for this particular tale.
It seems to me that, with the story, The Scallies and the songs, you are achieving a very bold and theatrical tone which allowed the moments to soar….
…’Innit’ is a real achievement and I wish you every success in taking it further.” – Willy Russell
“Despite being set against a backdrop of deserted streets, pubs, prisons and a living room sofa, ‘Innit’ is undeniably optimistic. Pulsing through the bad language and alcohol-fuelled head butts, the play leads to a magnificent scene in which the audience claps joyfully along to the song ‘We’re All on the Way to the Slammer’.
The songs that permeate the plot provide relief and a way of introducing a third, more hopeful voice. They are often weird, beautiful expressions of what we want the characters to see in themselves, and, above all, say to others.
When Ashley joins the local gang, his girlfriend (“posh, ‘cause she’s from Chorlton”) sings a ballsy ‘You’re better than this’, whilst his body language defiantly suggests the contrary. It’s fun, sad and it’s subtly saying something very empowering.
The school trip filling the toilets during the interval sounded like extras; one girl even yelled from her cubical: “It’s like being at home, innit?” I’m from Birmingham so it didn’t feel like home for me, but despite this, I think she nailed it.
There is a freshness and energy to ‘Innit’, which puts it a long, long way from the panting-smile jazz-hand musical. But it is nonetheless infused with a delightfulness that defies the weight and seriousness of its subject.” – Emer Martin