On the 15th June it will be the 20th anniversary of the Manchester bombing by the Provisional IRA. In memory of that event HOME, Manchester, have teamed up with ANU Productions to present On Corporation Street, a piece of site-specific, immersive theatre. The performance will use testimonies and memories of the bombing to create a piece described as a collision between 'past, present and future.' It will run at HOME from 10th-25th June. Like many Mancunians, I have recollections of where I was that day and I'm intrigued to see how my memories of the bombing fit in with the interpretations of others. Here's what I remember from that day.
It was Saturday 15th June 1996. I was twelve years old and I arrived in Manchester city centre early with my mum. Some family friends were there too, but I can't remember who they were. We were visiting the Arndale shopping centre, where everyone went on Saturdays. Back then it was a yellow-tiled, closed-in space with a bus station underneath. Whenever we were there my mum always seemed to stop at the fish monger in the market section of the shopping centre. I hated the market, it always smelt like fish and PVC leather and it was too crowded for me. On one side of the fish monger was a haberdashery and on the other side a bag shop. If there was some kind of order to the layout I couldn't see it. I hated shopping and this place didn't help. In short, it was a normal Saturday, full of things that were fairly familiar to me, albeit things I didn't really like.
For the drive home, I was sandwiched into the middle seat at the back of the car. We were travelling along Corporation Street, past Balloon Street on the right and heading towards Cheetham Hill where we lived. As we were turning left onto Cheetham Hill Road we all heard a rumble behind us. Being wedged into the middle seat, I couldn't quite turn around to see what had happened. My mum was driving and she didn't stop. She didn't speak either. She continued on towards home. I managed another difficult twist in my seat but I still couldn't see properly. We turned another corner and the centre was out of sight so I stopped trying to see.
In my head I imagine our old Ford Sierra racing out of Manchester city centre like a bullet of blue, narrowly escaping the blast. But in reality, my mum has always been an incredibly slow driver and it was probably more of a steady escape from a bomb that was already far enough behind us. This is where theatre comes in handy. I imagine many in Manchester that day will have a story like mine to tell -- a very small shard of a much larger collective memory. ANU is using these shards to create their piece and I am looking forward to seeing what story they will tell with them.
Visit the HOME website for more info on the production and how you can contribute your memories of the event: 'On Corporation Street' at HOME