Just a Second

Maximising potential by unlocking creativity.

Just a Second is an intergenerational musical collaboration that inspires and empowers young people to be creators of their own future through a ground-breaking musical and personal development programme.

Working in collaboration with leading artists, Tim Jackson, Principal Horn player at the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Chris Mellor, Director and Dramaturg, we are creating the Just a Second Musical which reveals how our lives can change in just a second and how we can change other people’s if we give them just a second of our time.

The Background Story

An elderly man lived and worked his whole life as a fixer and mender of broken things, between a corner shop and a property agent, in a small street away from the centre of the city.

The old man had always felt more comfortable around clocks, and toasters than around people. He and his wife did have one child. She left home after a particularly big row when she was still quite young and he had not seen her for a very long time. She was almost as stubborn as he was.

A few years ago his kind, patient and even more stubborn wife, had persuaded him that they should foster a small boy who was lost and unsettled and couldn’t stop running away. Unexpectedly, the old man found, in the boy, a kindred spirit and they passed their time together in his workshop where he instilled a love of mechanisms and mending in his 11 year old apprentice and adopted grandson.

When his wife died suddenly, the old man and the boy retreated to the workshop where they set about restoring a clock that the old man had acquired as a box of broken bits from a neighbour when he was just starting out, many years ago. As the old man taught the boy how to mend and tend to the clock they both began to pull together the broken pieces of their lives. Eventually the clock was renewed until it ticked and tocked and chimed better than ever. That was yesterday. 

Now today, the old man too has died: suddenly, just like his wife, leaving the boy once more alone. All he has left is the clock they worked on together but now every tick carries him further from his grandad, every tock pushes him toward a future that he can’t face and all he wants is for time to stop.

On the other hand, time cannot move fast enough for the old man’s daughter, who has returned to her childhood home to organise her father’s funeral, and sell his workshop. She just needs to tick things off her list, one item following another, as quickly as possible, until it’s done, once and for all, and she can return to the life she has worked so hard to build: in the centre of the city, away from here. But what to do about the small grieving boy and who is the secretive teenager living in the room above the workshop?

Just a Second follows a week in the life of this small street in a quiet neighbourhood away from the centre of things. Seven days between an old man’s death and his final rest. 10,080 seconds, and any one of them could change everything for a young boy, a daughter, a teenage wanderer, a corner shopkeeper, a business man and his niece. 

Each believing they are alone, unaware that the future they dream about, dread, plan for or fear, is about to be changed for ever. As events unfold we see that very few things are what they seem and a world can be turned upside down in Just A Second.

Life in a Week

Imagine your life as a week with each day representing 12 years. We’re all born on Monday morning, 12 years old on Monday night, 36 on Wednesday, 60 by Friday evening, 84 by Sunday, and if we’re lucky we may get to enjoy a Bank Holiday Monday.

Each of the seven characters in Just a Second are on different days of the week, we call them Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Creating the Characters

As a writing team, working together to co-create our story, we quickly learned that we needed a shared understanding of our characters’ deeper motivations and personal histories if we were to agree how they might act in the many situations that we imagined for them. 

Each character is an archetype for their age group and we are sure that you will recognise many of their histories and character traits in people you work and live around every day. However like all of us, our cast of characters have been shaped by events, stories, feelings and cultural influences into the complex and unique individuals that come together to make our stories. 

Their histories have changed many times over the collaboration process and we regularly update them as we discover more about them. Below you will find an introduction to each of them and a short history of their lives before we meet them in the play. As you will see, each character is separated by almost a generation, represented by a particular day of the week from which they derive their name. 

The Cast List

Monday The Boy 11 years old

Tuesday The Girl 19 years old

Wednesday The Business Man’s Niece 29 years old

Thursday The Corner Shopkeeper 38 years old

Friday The Daughter 52 years old

Saturday The Business Man 65 years old 

Sunday The Old Man 74 years old

Just a Second Programme

Alongside the creation of the musical we are developing a groundbreaking mentoring and personal development programme which uses the arts to inspire and empower young people to be creators of their own futures.

Young people create, connect and contribute together:

Create – teams of young creators bring the musical characters to life through storytelling, song writing, drama, art, dance and their own creative performances. 

Connect – they then engage in group conversations about topical issues facing each character that really resonate with their own lives. These range from confidence, change and community to relationships, resilience and respect.

Contribute – finally each young person reflects on their own journey using a personal learning journal and explores creative opportunities to make a difference, make a life and make a living in the future.

Throughout the process, artistic mentors share their experiences and help young people to create their own toolkit for life. We then encourage these ‘Mondays’ and ‘Tuesdays’ to connect with and contribute to other days of the week in their local community, particularly the ‘Weekenders’. Explore how generations have made a difference together by watching the video below.