Tag Archives: theatre

A city explored, performed.

Love Letter

(All images in this post © Christian Payne)

On the 2nd and 3rd of October 2009 Theatre Writing Partnership, Stan’s Cafe and Derby LIVE brought a two-day adventure to the City of Derby. The first day was a city-wide adventure – a kind of treasure-hunt with clues and tasks that produced images, sounds and creative writing in the morning, and then a coming together of participants to produce scripts and monologues in the afternoon. The second day brought a director and 4 actors to the material, producing a performance and presentation that evening: A City Staged.

Listen to Kate Chapman explaining the first day: A City Adventure.


This was a bold and unusual experiment in theatre writing which was very exciting to be a part of, and we want to bring you just a taste of the experience through the media (audio, video, and images) produced by our two social-media documenters: Hannah Nicklin and the excellent Christian Payne (Documentally).

Here we can see two of their turning points in the adventure, which were streamed live at the time through Qik

[qik url="http://qik.com/video/3072235"]

[qik url="http://qik.com/video/3072829"]

The days would have been nothing without the participants, who though not always privy to the big picture, traversed the tasks given to them with enthusiasm. Here we have an interview with several of them, just back from the morning’s adventure.

Participants

The material they produced was then wrought into shape by TWP’s Artistic Director Kate Chapman, and a team of four actors, here’s an interview with Gary, one of those actors, and with Kate, just half an hour before the presentation was performed.

Gary: Kate:

The presentation took the form of a collection of images and sounds recorded throughout the day, and a reading of the dramatic work written in response to the tasks undertaken. The presentation was scored by several monologues which spoke from the city of Derby’s heart – its inhabitants, its churches, and its monuments. Here is a four minute excerpt from the piece:

You can find further highlights from the two day’s images, video and audio on TWP’s Posterous. The audioboos recorded throughout the two days are the best way to follow the tasks and process in detail, and you can find them in order (complete with images and geo (location) tags) here and mapped here. This map allows you to follow Hannah and @Documentally‘s progress through the city, enabling you to listen without leaving map view.  (Massive thanks to @buddhamagnet for the mapping facility.)

We will leave you with an interview with Rochi Rampal, one of the performers, just after the performance finished, and with Jayne, one of the City Adventure participants reflecting on the feeling of seeing her writing staged.

Rochi:

Jayne:

Market Square
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A City Crane

It’s here! The online task that gives you the opportunity to be a part of Stan’s Cafe and TWP’s A City Adventure.

In just 9 days 26 writers will be taking to the streets of Derby and undertaking a series of yet-unknown tasks bringing them into direct interaction with the city of Derby. Producing images, words, and sounds the participants will explore the city-spaces they walk through every day.

However because of the small number of spaces, and because many of you are spread far and wide, we wanted to offer an exciting online aspect of the adventure to allow one and all to participate. Here’s how…

The City Crane!

Follow our instructions to make a City Crane, and send us a picture of your results to have your words thrown into the mix for A City Staged on 3rd October 2009.

1. Start with a square of paper, point to the top to make a diamond

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2. Think of a familiar place in a city you know, preferably one that you share with people you don’t know. Write down words that describe this place across the middle of the diamond. Think of colours, textures, sounds, sights and smells and of ways in which the place resembles a person. Is it controlling? Is it moody? Is it accommodating?
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3. Turn the page 90 degrees anti-clockwise. Continue to describe the place, and allow your description to encompass the people that inhabit the place alongside you.
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4. Once your ink is dry, start to fold the paper into an origami crane – great instructions for this can be found here, and we’ll be follow this post up with a video of online communication officer, Hannah, folding one too.
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5. Send or link us to a picture or video of your wordy crane (from as many angles as you like) and we’ll pass it on to the actors to shape into A City Speaks. We’ll also put up a gallery of wordy cranes so you can see who else is joining in!

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Folding a City Crane

Here’s a video of Hannah folding a City Crane:

Hannah will also be taking part in the City Adventure, bringing it to you live via social media. She and a fellow conspirator will be using video, audio, pictures and tweets to give you the opportunity to follow the tasks as they happen. Follow and tune in to @TWPGoSee on the 2nd and 3rd of October or watch out for the hashtag #cityadventure.

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The age of art?

Last night I caught ‘Imagine’ on BBC iPlayer. It was about The Company of Elders, a dance troupe who rehearse and regularly perform at Sadler’s Wells. The unusual thing about the troupe is their age – ranging from 62 to 85 years of age, and totalling over 2000 years between the 25 of them – they challenge the norm of youth, beauty and flexibility that proliferates dance. The documentary was extraordinary, and I was particularly struck by the notion of experience – the way that a full life and a body etched with experience made the movements performed by the company so much richer and more resonant.

I had the privilege to work with a group of people over fifty in a recent participatory arts programme initiated by Newark and Sherwood District Council. The idea of the programme was simple: to redress the balance between provision for younger and older people. Children and young people have been hot on the poitical agenda for quite some time, and there’s evidence around every corner of high quality, rich and inspiring arts activity for young people. In Newark and Sherwood, the Arts Team realised that what they offered to older people was not a patch on what they were offering elsewhere, and decided to do something about it. TWP were contracted to deliver a strand of the programme called ‘writing for theatre’, and we brought on board the estimable Noel Greig and Philip Osment to lead our group on a journey through playwriting.

The project’s success was beyond the wildest dreams of the Arts Team, and was and incredible eye-opener for me. It was astonishing just how much energy and vitality the participants brought to the group, and to their work, and their willingness to be creative, try new things and experiment was at odds with silly proverbs about old dogs and grandmas. But those proverbs concentrate on teaching, and the most heartening outcome of the project was the group’s determination to keep meeting and developing under their own steam when the programme ended. The group meet monthly at Newark Palace Theatre, and they are a testament to the empowering effects that a creative challenge can have.

Sadly, much of this exciting work remains invisible, and there’s a leap of gargantuan proportion between high quality, engaging arts provision (with all its associated physical and mental health benefits) and older people having access to development opportunities that take them seriously as writers, artists and performers. It’s not just a lack of opportunities to get involved and undertake a development journey that afflicts the over-fifties, it’s also an insignificant presence on stage in the way of characters, as Sir Ian McKellan points out in an article in The Stage.

With a rapidly ageing population, that in the main is benefiting from improved health and well-being and enjoying active retirement, the balance will soon tip, and no doubt the original generation will make their voices heard once again. A question for development organisations like us is how to embrace age, experience and wisdom without getting caught up in reminiscence and recollection: how do we open up the remarkable lens of experience to expose the here and now?

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