Maxine Peake at Henry Hussey’s art exhibition


Bolton actress Maxine Peake swaps the theatre for the streets to sell Big Issue

SHE calls the Royal Exchange Theatre her second home, but Bolton actress Maxine Peake is usually treading the boards there, not selling the Big Issue outside it.

Maxine was selling the magazine as part of a campaign to support its sellers who are homeless.

The star, who won rave reviews for her performances in Hamlet and The Skriker at the theatre in Manchester was one of a number of celebrities to take part in the magazine’s Vendor Week campaign.

It also featured poet Lemm Sissay, who crew up in care in Leigh and Atherton and is now the chancellor of the University of Manchester, radio DJ and Inspiral Carpets keyboardist Clint Boon and Tony Lloyd, the interim Greater Manchester Mayor.

They all spent an hour selling the Big Issue in Manchester city centre to find out what it is like for the magazine’s regular sellers.

Maxine said it was “really hard” but an enjoyable experience to spend time with seller Monica, who she has met before while performing at the theatre.

She said: “It was fun, it was great to spend time with Monica, who is a Big Issue seller outside the stage door at the Royal Exchange, who I’ve known for a few years.

“People ignoring you and blanking you or looking at you quite disgruntled is quite a difficult thing. I did it for about an hour and I know Monica does four or five hour shifts. It’s destroying in some ways.

“People were lovely as well, so you’ve got that mix, somebody being a bit grumpy and then somebody being absolutely, so its quite difficult.”

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Maxine Peake ‘ignored’ while selling Big Issue

Actor Maxine Peake said she was “surprised how people just ignore you” while taking a real-life role as a Big Issue seller in Manchester.

The stage and TV star joined regular seller Monica outside the Royal Exchange Theatre to sell the magazine as part of Vendor Week, an international event which will see people around the world take a turn at street-selling for an hour.

Peake, who appeared in Silk and The Village, said she found it hard to deal with the number of people who walk past without speaking, adding that she did not know how Monica coped with it “without losing [her] temper”.

The Manchester event will also see poet Lemn Sissay, DJ Clint Boon and Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd sell the magazine.

Watch the video here!

Maxine Peake supporting #VendorWeek

Now the hustle and bustle of the festive period has settled down and the January sales are coming to an end our towns and cities become quiet and, for our vendors, can be lonely places. Although the sales and crowds are gone, they are still working hard to earn an income – selling Big Issue North magazine.

Each year, well-known people from around the world take part in #VendorWeek – taking an hour out of their day to stand alongside our vendors and try their hand at selling Big Issue North. Not only do they help drive sales for our vendors and get a really valuable experience, they also help raise funds for the International Network of Street Papers (INSP), which supports more than 100 street papers worldwide.

This #VendorWeek, February 1st – 7th 2016, we have the support of some wonderful guest sellers. Here’s the full list:

Greater Manchester:
Monday, 1.30pm: Matthew Gardiner, CEO of Trafford Housing Trust, Royal Exchange Theatre (St. Ann’s Square)
Thursday, 9.30am: Ian Munro, CEO of New Charter Group, Royal Exchange Theatre (St. Ann’s Square)
Thursday, 11am: Maxine Peake, actress, Royal Exchange Theatre (St. Ann’s Square)
Thursday, noon: Dave Power, CEO of One Manchester, Royal Exchange Theatre (St. Ann’s Square)
Thursday, 1.30: Prose, band, Royal Exchange Theatre (St. Ann’s Square)
Thursday, 3pm: Clint Boon, (Radio) DJ, musician (The Inspiral Carpets), Royal Exchange Theatre (St. Ann’s Square)

Friday, 10am: Tony Lloyd, Greater Manchester Police Police and Crime Commissioner, Royal Exchange Theatre (St. Ann’s Square)
Friday, noon: Lemn Sissay MBE, author/broadcaster/Chancellor of University of Manchester, Royal Exchange Theatre (St. Ann’s Square)
Friday, 4pm: Kate Green MP, Labour MP for Stretford and Urmston, Stretford Shopping Mall

Liverpool:
Monday, 5.30pm: Bishop of Liverpool The Rt Revd Paul Bayes – Liverpool ONE

Thursday, 9.30am: Gary Millar, Councillor for Old Swan, Liverpool, former Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Central Station (Bold Street entrance)
Thursday, 11am: Keith Mullin, lead guitarist in The Farm/lecturer at LIPA, Central Station (Bold Street entrance)
Thursday, 1pm: Ian Prowse, front man of Amsterdam, musician, Central Station (Bold Street entrance)

Friday, 10am: Bill Addy, CoE Priest, CEO of Liverpool BID Company – Marks & Spencer

Leeds:
Friday, 10am: Mik Artistik, poet, musician & artist, outside House of Fraser on Briggate

Sheffield:
Tuesday, 1pm: Jon McClure, front man of Reverend and the Makers, outside Town Hall

Last year’s Big Sell raised funds for INSP and generated fantastic media coverage for Big Issue North – 29 stories in the press; two BBC radio broadcasts and four broadcasts on TV, including ITV Calendar and Granada. It was also popular on social media, with our messages on Twitter and Facebook reaching more than a million people last year!

You can help raise funds for INSP by donating here: www.vendorweek.insp.ngo!

Here’s what our Big Sell participants are asked to do:

• Spare an hour of their time to join a vendor on their pitch and ‘sell’ Big Issue North in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester or Sheffield

• Promote that they’re involved with #VendorWeek

• Raise funds for INSP

• Give us a quote

The money earned while selling Big Issue North will go to vendors in the city where the magazine was sold. All other money raised through #VendorWeek goes to the International Network of Street Papers which supports street papers around the world to start up, grow and develop so that they can provide homeless and unemployed people with a way to earn an income and improve their lives.

What last year’s guest sellers found:

Last year’s Big Sell saw 23 people spend an hour of their day selling Big Issue North across our region. Here are some impressions of their experiences:

“Most of the time when I’m doing my job, people look at me, they show an interest. This afternoon, it’s been fascinating watching people averting their eyes, trying not to notice what I’m doing … I have a little more appreciation of how demanding it really is.” Dr. David Walker, Bishop of Manchester

“It’s hard work to get people to buy the magazine. And there are far, far too many people in this rich country of ours who still don’t have a proper home to go to at night.” Kate Green MP

“Even in a hi-vis jacket I became invisible. People walk past me. They might have smiled sympathetically. One or two nodded at me. But only three people put their hands in their pocket. I admit I wasn’t very good at it. I think you’ve got to become hardened to being ignored … It’s been a fantastic learning experience for me. And it just shows you what Big Issue vendors go through every day.” Ian McMillan, poet & broadcaster

“It’s been bloody hard work. People ignore you. People blank you. Some people are really nice. Next time I walk past a Big Issue seller I’ll be buying one.” Ian Munro – Chief Executive of New Charter

“Selling the Big Issue – probably the hardest job I’ve ever done in my life to be honest … It reminds you of the driving force vendors must have to do this. It takes some neck. It’s alright for me but for them it’s their daily grind. This is their everyday on these streets. It’s also bloody cold.” Allan Beswick – BBC Radio Manchester

“It’s almost like you’re a ghost in the middle of the road … I can’t imagine what it must be like to have to do this every day of your life without knowing where you going to sleep tonight either. My heart really goes out to the people actually doing it ‘cause what they’re trying to do is work their way out of the predicament they find themselves in. And homelessness is something that as a society we should not accept.” Keith Mullin, LIPA/The Farm

“I’m taking part in the Big Sell [because] I thought it would be a really good idea to get involved and just experience what the vendors have to do day in and day out. And it’s a difficult sell!” Mark Burns-Willamson, West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner

“Spare a thought for those who spend all day and in far more inclement weather than this in order to sell this excellent magazine. Everybody knows the Big Issue but not everybody buys the Big Issue. And that includes me. Please think of the homeless. Think of the Big Issue. Buy the Big Issue.” George Galloway, former MP

You can watch all last year’s participants’ full feedback in our Big Sell 2015 playlist here:



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Royal Exchange wins theatre of the year

Royal Exchange wins theatre of the year

Manchester’s Royal Exchange has been named regional theatre of the year at The Stage Awards.

The venue beat the Chichester Festival Theatre and Northampton’s Royal and Derngate to the honour.

Actress Maxine Peake, who won rave reviews for her role in The Skriker at the theatre last year, collected the award at the London ceremony along with artistic director Sarah Frankcom.

In The Skriker, Peake was described as “a cross between Vivienne Westwood and the Virgin Queen”

The Almeida Theatre was also named London theatre of the year.

It beat Shakespeare’s Globe and the Barbican for its hit Greeks season, which achieved both critical and box office success as well as a West End transfer of the Oresteia.

The Stage’s editor, Alistair Smith, said the quality of work over the past year had made it “really tricky” for the judges.

‘Meteoric arrival’

The Other Room – Cardiff’s first pub theatre – won fringe theatre of the year – the first venue outside London to win the prize.

Opened in February 2015, the judges described the 44-person capacity venue’s first year as a “meteoric arrival” on the theatre scene.

Sonia Friedman was named producer of the year for the second year. In 2015 she was behind nine UK shows, including the new West End musical Bend It Like Beckham and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet at the Barbican.

The National Theatre won two awards – the international award for its collaboration with the National Theatre of China on a Chinese production of War Horse; and the theatre building of the year prize for its NT Future regeneration project.

Arts Educational Schools London collected the school of the year award and stage manager Roger Miller was named unsung hero for his work in saving the Felixstowe Spa Pavilion Theatre.

Here are this year’s winners in full:

London theatre of the year – Almeida Theatre

Fringe theatre of the year – The Other Room, Cardiff

Regional theatre of the year – Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

Producer of the year – Sonia Friedman

International award – War Horse China

School of the year – Arts Educational Schools London

Theatre building of the year – NT Future

Unsung Hero – Roger Miller

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