In the middle of the night

Francesca Millican-Slater spins a love letter to late night radio at Birmingham REP.

A love letter to the sleepless, 2am Facebookers and shift workers, Francesca Millican-Slater DJs her own late night radio show, channelling the rambling raconteurs of presenters from the wee hours to spin a noirish stack of stories, odd, familiar, funny, true and stolen. Reflecting on the night hours, she cross-fades bite-size stories of loneliness and lack of connection, of acts of kindness and cruelty and violence in fate, lost people, missed chances, words unsaid, horrors, narcissism and the creeping rage of the sleepless.

Francesca said, “It comes from waking up in the middle of the night, or not sleeping, of feeling, at first like you are the only one awake, you know this not to be true; the night allows a certain narcissism. You know of others awake up and scrolling through blue screen news, looking for people, or contact or news of others dying or dieting.

“I wondered what stories I’d tell to them in the middle of the night. What stories I tell myself. Not lullabies to send you to sleep but small stories from the day in frustrations, losses, irritations, heartbreak and hope, magnified and made strange by lack of sleep, the night, the dark. I thought about radio shows, rambling raconteurs, DJ’s talking in the night, in the dark, telling tales though they are not sure who is listening. I thought about people just trying to get through the night, what might be heard.”

Francesca Millican-Slater is a solo writer and performer. Her acclaimed one woman show Me, Myself and Miss Gibbs ran at Edinburgh Fringe in 2011 and toured extensively throughout 2012 and 2013. In 2014, she created My Dearest Girls: The Letters Book and My Dearest Girls: Helen’s Story based on the letters of Shropshire women between 1917-1920, and investigated the history of her Birmingham flat in The Forensics of a Flat. Prior to that, she performed Instructions For Heartbreak (2010) a power point DIY presentation on how to break your own heart.

Last year she was commissioned by The New Vic Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, to create a new piece: Gold! as part of their Staffordshire Hoard Festival. She is currently artist in residence at the National Waterways Museum, in Ellesmere Port, working across 10 months to create a site-responsive performance and to explore creative ways of telling the story of the museum.

Pippa Frith is an independent producer based in Birmingham who is passionate about working in the regions to showcase new voices and grow new audiences. She is the long-term producer for Francesca Millican-Slater. In 2014 she produced HOAX in association with Manchester Royal Exchange, and in 2015 coproduced Unknown Male by Stephanie Ridings with Birmingham REP, winning the Peter Brook/Mark Marvin Award for the project. She will be bringing Stephanie Ridings’ The Road to Huntville about women who fall in love with men on Death Row to Summerhall, Red Lecture Theatre 5th–28th August.

Stories to Tell in the Middle of the Night plays at the Door, Birmingham Rep, on 28th July.