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Kim Wiltshire on The Value of Nothing

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Kim Wiltshire, playwright at Laid Bare Theatre and lecturer at Edge Hill University, discusses her new play – The Value of Nothing

My new play, The Value of Nothing, opens on the 10th October at Edge Hill University’s Arts Centre before touring around the North West, Cumbria and into the Midlands during October and November. The play has also been published by Aurora Metro and will be available to purchase at all of our performances.

Laid Bare Theatre – Theatre that asks questions

I like to write about issues that affect our world. My main aim is to facilitate a debate through a really good night out. So I use comedy and humour, I create characters who are real but perhaps a little larger than life. I want my audience to have a laugh, because if you’re laughing and then something real hits – a single mum talking about what living on benefits means for her little girl for example – it sticks with you.

I don’t want to preach, I don’t want to be seen as this ‘holier than thou’ sort of person, but what I do want to do is go: hey, you over there, have you seen about this? What do you think about it?

The Value of Nothing invites you into the lives of the characters

I do this through making theatre. I enjoy the creative challenge inherent in taking a serious subject and exploring it through the lives of a few characters, the choices they make during the story and how situations are not always as simple as they might seem.

In this play, I want people to see the grey areas, that there is no black and white. So I’m exploring the benefit system, and there are hundreds of stories about people living on benefits who aspire to a better life, heart-breaking stories that make you realise that political rhetoric is designed to create a ‘them and us’ situation in society.

But then – what if there is a person who says: I don’t want to work, I like living on benefits – why should I get up in the morning for less than a tenner an hour? I don’t want to silence that voice, I want to bring that voice into the debate, because they are still saying something of value. If a footballer or a supermodel, for example, the people who are held up to us as role models to aspire to, won’t get out of bed for less than several thousand pound, then why do we expect other human beings to get out of bed for £6 per hour? When you start to unpick all these stories, they say something about the wider society we live in, our structures, what we find acceptable and what we don’t.

Of course, all of this might sound a little bit on the heavy side, especially when I’m saying: come and see my show, it’s really funny and entertaining, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry! But a play can be all of that, and still make you think!

See Laid Bare Theatre’s website for more information on The Value of Nothing.

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