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Other Side of the River

‘Other Side of the River’ is a new play by Lisa Nicoll, about living in a place that feels like it’s been written off.

Other Side of the River

The play is inspired by conversations and research held over a year with residents of Ferguslie Park in Paisley, which topped the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation in 2016 as the most deprived area in Scotland. ‘Other Side of the River’ gets under the skin of these communities, and explores what it feels like to live somewhere that is under constant media attack; and that feels ignored, forgotten, left behind by the wider world. These villages and towns exist all around the UK; the place where ‘Other Side of The River’ is set could be any of them.

Year after year the data gets crunched and the town of Riverside finds itself unfairly labelled the country's worst place to live. Trashed in the media, written off by everyone, it needs its true voice finally heard.

Rucksack on back and notebook in hand, a young woman from the other side of the river arrives claiming to want to research the ‘real’ Riverside.

Quickly she is drawn into the residents’ worlds: their loves and losses, pride and fear, their struggle to be seen as fully human by the wider world. She sees how despite everything they always find time for a dance. She gets roped in to the weekly karaoke.

But in a town haunted by those that have been lost, the newcomer carries her own secret too. With her history clouding her view, can she ever see things as they really are? Does Riverside know what it’s doing when it lets her in?

Other Side of the River is a gripping new play featuring live music and swing dancing, with professional actors supported by a community cast of dancers who will get audiences moving and help see us through troubled times. The play explores how deeply ingrained poverty can affect people’s lives, and how they fight to rise above the circumstances they were born into. It asks what it takes for us to look beyond the headlines, and who gets left behind when regeneration happens. And ultimately it questions: can we ever escape our own history?

The production and tour of ‘Other Side of The River’ is funded by Renfrewshire Council as part of the Paisley 2021 City of Culture legacy. The play will tour across Scotland and then England (focusing on the past and current Cities of Culture: Coventry, Hull, Liverpool and Derry/Londonderry) as soon as Covid restrictions allow, and it is considered safe and sensible to do so.


At each tour location we will also run a series of free community workshops in the months leading up to the tour, to engage people from some of the most disadvantaged communities in the area with fun, inclusive cultural activity. This will include music and dance workshops, play readings, playwriting workshops, theatre trips, and podcast sessions; to build word of mouth about the play, to inspire local people to try something new, and to help residents to have their voices heard more widely.

Creative Team

Writer & Executive  - Lisa Nicoll

Director - Allie Winton Butler

Set Designer - Jessica Brettle

Lighting Design – Emma Armstrong

Associate Producer - Corinne Salisbury

Music Workshops Facilitator and Composer - Biff Smith

Marketing – Derek Gilchrist

PR - Sharon McHendry, SM Publicity

Podcast Creator - Cameron McGarva

Cast -  Stephen Arthur, Leah Byrne, Mary Gapinski, Colin Little, Laura Szalecki

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