Fatherland is a play about what it means to be a dad. How did it come about?
It was driven by Scott Graham, the director. His idea was: what are the things that you wish your father had said to you, and what are the things that you wish you’d said to your father? We decided to go to our hometowns [Hyde grew up in Bewdley, Worcestershire] and interview people from our families and schools to explore the ‘legend of father’, the stories that are passed on. It’s partly an exploration of what it is to be male, growing up in 21st century England, and it’s partly an autobiography of these three guys who went off to make something and found out an awful lot about themselves.
Do you feel the subject of fatherhood is under-explored?
Yeah, it’s not something we hear discussed that often. A lot of us were raised, for good or bad, in an environment where men toughed it out. You put up with whatever was happening and you brought your paycheque in. But there’s a lot more subtlety going on behind the scenes.
How did your own experiences of fatherhood feed into the work?
I was surprised at how much I could relate to everything that every father said, even those with quite extreme viewpoints. It’s interesting how one’s moral compass can shift when you become a parent because you now have to protect some vulnerable young people.
You and your father appear as characters in the play. Is it strange to see yourself portrayed by an actor?
It’s weird in auditions when someone starts saying my words and Scott’s directing them as to the inner workings of my mind. It’s a bit like therapy, really.
Your other MIF show, Manchester Street Poem, is a mixed-media installation about homelessness. Why that topic?
It started off by my kids asking me what was going on when they saw people living in a shop doorway. The answers that I was giving were vague and pathetic, so I thought I’d find out and see if there was anything to be done to help. But I’m not flying any flags here. I wanted to offer this piece to people with lived experience to hijack Underworld and to use it as an opportunity to tell their stories.
What did you learn from observing Manchester’s homeless problem first-hand?
Homelessness is on the increase and there are many reasons for it. There are issues with mental health and addiction that need to be properly addressed and funded. We’re all living on the same island, we’re all part of the same tribe, so there’s got to be something wrong with our systems that puts so many people out on the street.
You’re always working on a range of different projects, but does Underworld remain the anchor?
Yeah, without question. That’s the core of what I do. Rick [Smith, Underworld partner] is the only person that I’ve worked with where I constantly feel that I’m at the very edge of what I’m capable of delivering. When we get together there’s a powerful sense of excitement. That keeps me coming back.