It is the first time that a play, staged in the intimate confines of a taxi, has been performed by actual taxi drivers with its debut taking place at ARC in Stockton.
Boro Taxis driver Jeff Meaney is one of the star performers in the show, along with a real Boro Taxis vehicle on loan to the production.
Ishy, who is now a full-time playwright, based Taxi Tales on his experiences from when he was a driver at Boro Taxis. Taxi Tales, comprising three ten-minute monologues, is being staged by Tamasha, the national touring theatre company behind East Is East, in a co-production with ARC Stockton and Freedom Studios in Bradford.
Mohammed Bashir, Founder of Boro Taxis, said: “It is great that such an innovative production has not only been written by someone from Teesside, but is being premiered in the area.
“We are very proud of Ishy and what he has accomplished and continues to achieve through his writing talents. So, we did not hesitate when the theatre company asked if we could provide one of our vehicles for Taxi Tales’ debut in Stockton.”
Taxi Tales’ Co-director Evie Manning, said: “This is very exciting artistically as, while plays have been staged in taxis before, this is the first time that actual taxi drivers have delivered the dialogue.”
Tamasha’s Artistic Director, Fin Kennedy, said: “Taxi Tales celebrates Tamasha’s 25thanniversary as the UK’s leading national touring theatre company producing plays by culturally-diverse writers. We’re thrilled it is premiering in Stockton. “Tamasha prides itself on championing local voices and in taking an innovative approach to the way plays are staged and Ishy has certainly delivered on that front!”
Ishy said: “As a Boro-based resident it gives me great pride that Taxi Tales is being premiered on Teesside before going to London and potentially elsewhere in the country.
“I think taxi drivers have a unique insight into the pulse and attitudes in their towns and this is a great way to explore them. I am very grateful to Boro Taxis for supporting Taxi Tales, and my ambition as a playwright is to premiere new plays, which are for and about the people of my area.”
Ishy’s writing success began in 2004 when he heard a report on Radio 5 Live appealing for scripts for short stories with a sporting theme. To his surprise and delight, he won the competition and Radio 5 broadcast his short story ‘John Barnes Saved My Life’.
Since then, Middlesbrough-based Ishy, who is married with three daughters, has written several other plays including the award-winning Snookered, which was toured nationally by Tamasha in 2012. He is also developing ideas for TV and film.
Having been a cabbie for 20 years, Ishy, 45, has calculated that he has overhead 160,000 conversations and during this time he jotted down snippets from them if he thought they may have the potential to spark a story idea.
Annabel Turpin, Chief Executive at ARC Stockton, said: “We are delighted to be hosting a sharing of Taxi Tales in conjunction with Boro Taxis. It is a truly unique opportunity to experience new work in its development stages in a live setting – a real Boro Taxi!
“We are especially looking forward to working with taxi driver-turned-theatre maker Ishy Din again and hearing all the fascinating tales from the drivers.”
Each of Taxi Tales’ monologues has been developed collaboratively by Ishy with Tamasha Theatre’s Artistic Director Fin Kennedy, Directors Evie Manning and Boz Temple-Morris and the drivers involved.
Following its debut, to an audience of invited guests in Stockton, Taxi Tales aired to the paying public at the Platform Theatre in London.
For more information on Tamasha log on to http://www.tamasha.org.uk/