First workshop on Thursday October 29th! A new theatre-making project giving young people in rural Suffolk a platform to tell their stories.
Young people in the Stowmarket area are being given the chance to help create a new play focusing on the realities of growing-up in rural Suffolk.
Theatre Producer Karen Goddard (pictured above), writer Martha Loader and director Scott Hurran have teamed-up with ‘The Together Project’ at The Mix in Stowmarket to offer 15 – 24-year-olds the opportunity to take part in the new drama project, entitled ‘Stow and Tell’.
Thanks to recent funding from Arts Council England, ‘Stow and Tell’ will invite young people to take part in a series of free weekly face-to-face theatre-making workshops at The Mix during October, November and December.
Participants will get (socially-distanced!) experience of every aspect of theatre production from writing, researching, developing and marketing and finally staging a pilot performance of a new play.
The project will provide participants with a fun and fascinating ‘behind-the-scenes’ experience of producing a new piece of theatre. It will also offer young people the chance to learn some important transferable work skills that will help their chances of future employment.
‘Together Project’ Youth Worker Chloe Davis said: “This is a really exciting opportunity for young people to have a platform to voice what really matters to them. It is also an amazing chance for young people to gain important life skills, as well as an insight into theatre production and the vast and varied employment opportunities within the arts industry.”
‘Stow and Tell’ will also provide employment for a group of professional freelance creative practitioners.
Producer Karen Goddard said: “Freelance actors, writers and theatre directors are having a really hard time at the moment. So, I’m pleased that the grant I’ve been awarded is enabling me to offer not only a great creative learning experience for a group of young people, but also the chance for Ipswich-based playwright Martha Loader (pictured below) to develop a new script and for director Scott Hurran and a fantastic group of actors to bring her ideas to life. All this has only been possible thanks to public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England, so I am hugely grateful for that!”
Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said:“We’re really pleased to support ‘Stow and Tell’ thanks to National Lottery funding. It is really important that young people have the opportunity to develop and share their creative voices, but especially those who are vulnerable and might not otherwise have that chance. And that is exactly what this project is all about.”
The ‘Stow and Tell’ project is supported by The Mix and Suffolk County Council, in partnership with the John Peel Centre for the Creative Arts, Eastern Angles, Bury Theatre Royal, and The Garage in Norwich.
The Covid-secure workshops will be held at The Mix Centre in Stowmarket every Thursday from 5 – 7pm from October 29th onwards. The sessions will be limited to 15 people per group with participants wearing facemasks and observing social distancing rules. For more information on how to sign-up for the weekly workshops contact: Together@themixstowmarket.co.uk or ring Karen on 07789 933558
Martha Loader is an Ipswich-based playwright. Her plays have been performed at the Ink Festival and as part of the Ipswich ‘Women’s Voices Women’s Votes’ Festival. She is also co-founder of Tusk Theatre Company.
Scott Hurran is Artistic Director of Ecclesia Theatre Company. His most recent directorial work is ‘Paper Cut’ by Andrew Rosendorf, produced in association with Theatre 503. He has worked with the Mercury Theatre, Eastern Angles and Action Transport Theatre.
The Mix is a Youth charity in Stowmarket which exists to empower and enable young people.
Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. We have set out our strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high quality cultural experiences. We invest public money from Government and The National Lottery to help support the sector and to deliver this vision. www.artscouncil.org.uk
A massive thank-you to Arts Council England! In August I was awarded Project Grant funding to research and develop a new theatre script focusing on what it’s like to be a young person living in rural Suffolk. When Project Grants closed, it was a bit of a blow. As an independent freelance producer, it was one of the few funding streams available to me as an individual creative practitioner. So, all credit to ACE for opening-up and turning around applications so speedily. I’m delighted to say that this financial support will give work to a fantastic group of young freelance theatre-makers and actors including Ipswich-based playwright Martha Loader and Peterborough-based director Scott Hurran. But, what’s equally important and exciting is…this project (‘Stow and Tell’) will allow us to work with young people at The Mix in Stowmarket over a three-month period and actively involve them in all aspects of the theatre-making process. With additional investment from Suffolk County Council and in-kind support from the John Peel Centre for Creative Arts, Bury Theatre Royal, Eastern Angles and The Garage, the ‘Stow and Tell’ project will culminate in two public performances in Stowmarket on January 15th and 16th 2021. More info to follow…..!
The week before theatres ‘locked down’ I watched four live performances. Gecko’sLittle Space at the New Wolsey Theatre, Northern Broadsides’Quality Street at Bury Theatre Royal, a dress-run of Eastern Angles’ Red Skies and finally, Luke Wright’s The Remains of Logan Dankworth at FAYAP (a portakabin in Framlingham). As the week (9th – 15th March) unfolded, things got weirder. Events were being cancelled. I would no longer be travelling to London for the ITC Conference, and I was relieved.
On Tuesday the 10th I had (sort of) happily hugged and tapped toes with friends in the bar, and sat next to strangers in the crowded New Wolsey auditorium. But, by Saturday night, I was slightly nervous about seeing the Luke Wright gig. But I did, because, for me, travelling ten minutes down the road to sit in a familiar community venue in small-town Framlingham felt like a relatively low-risk activity. I’m glad I did. Luke was brilliant as always, and it was poignant to hear him say that we were probably watching his last live gig for quite a while (he was right).
My reaction got me thinking. When all this was over, could small-scale, hyperlocal, community-focused, rural touring be one of the ways out? I wrote a letter to The Stage, they published it, but they edited out the stuff about rural touring. So, like a dog with a bone, emailed Lyn Gardner. She saw something in the idea. We had a chat ranging over a whole load of topics – the potential for Coronavirus-friendly, drive-in theatre in rural settings; cabaret-style seating; the nimble and responsive nature of small-scale theatre companies with low overheads and flat management systems. But the thing that stuck out for me was the word ‘confidence’. How will we rebuild the confidence of funders and encourage them to resume their support, how will we rebuild the confidence of theatre companies (those who have survived!) to invite audiences back, and most importantly, how will we rebuild the confidence of audiences to once again sit in a crowded room with a bunch of strangers? Big questions.
On the crucial topic of finance, my work is reliant on Project Grant Funding from Arts Council England. This was suspended for a very good reason. In the first instance, ACE needed to divert funds towards its NPO organisations. And, hats off to them for their speedy support for individuals and Non-NPO companies. The theatre industry is a finely-balanced, interdependent ecosystem. Along with many other Freelance Creative people, I benefit from a healthy and solvent NPO portfolio. I’m at the bottom of the food chain. And, thankfully, I’m still being ‘fed’ by doing a bit of freelance project work for Eastern Angles.
But my other freelance work has virtually dried-up. The day before the suspension of ACE Project Grants I had submitted an application to do some community engagement theatre work with young people in Stowmarket. Bad timing! I will now need to re-submit my application once the fund re-opens. Two other projects I am involved in are also ‘on simmer’ whilst we patiently wait for a nod from ACE.
So, here I am, interviewing people who live and work on the Norfolk Broads for a future Eastern Angles show called Booming Voices – a wonderfully ‘mindful’ activity taking me into some fascinating conservations about birds, boats, butterflies, conservation and climate.
And, I’m currently having some very cautious but comfortingly up-beat chats with venues and programmers about future tours of Natalie Songer’s Satellites (about family, space exploration and the fascinating horror of World War 2) and Shamser Sinha’s Collapsing Stars (about love, taxi-driving and lives of a British Pakistani family).
The Mystery of the Raddlesham Mumps may be in lockdown….but Murray, Matthew, Nina and all the other members of the team are busy thinking of digital ways to engage young audiences.
For example…..we are looking for children aged 7 – 11 (but older is fine!) to help create Murray’s next show.
Read on for more info:
Murray Lachlan Young enlists young online creators to inspire new show.
Acclaimed poet, performer and broadcaster Murray Lachlan Young is seeking the help of children from across the country in the creation of his next show.
Following the success of The Mystery of the Raddlesham Mumps, a gothic comedy theatre production aimed at family audiences, Lachlan Young is now turning his attention to a follow-up epic-poem, Iffly Sney and the Tandlesham Nook.
“Soaked in atmosphere….six-year-old Hilda givesit 10 out of 10: a “really hilarious” show!”The Guardian (and companion) on The Mystery of the Raddlesham Mumps
“Gloriously bloodthirsty and deliciously devilish…a terrific showcase for Murray Lachlan Young’s verbal dexterity and gallows humour” The Stage on The Mystery on the Raddlesham Mumps
Iffly Sney and the Taddlesham Nook is a new folktale-inspired show telling the story of brother and sister Atom and Lunar and their quest through a magical forest in the company of Iffly, the kindly giant and the mysterious Old Mother Redbeard.
In order to tap into the minds of future audiences, Murray and the creative team are looking for youngsters aged 7 – 11 to assist in the creative process.The idea is to involve children in both the making of the new live show and the design of a computer game.
“It’s a brilliant project,” said Murray Lachlan Young, “the idea is to create a digital interface for children to pass through into wider performance and creativity.”
Using online resources and digital technology, Murray and his team will reach out to primary school-aged children, asking them to become creative agents, contributing ideas, images and feedback which will help inspire the making of the brand new Iffly Sney theatre show.
“The children will be amongst the very first people to see and read parts of the first draft. We really value their opinions and the unique ideas they have to offer and we know their creativity will actually shape the final look and feel of the piece” said Murray.
The Mystery of the Raddlesham Mumps, a spooky story of a young boy who inherits an enormous ancestral home with a hilariously grisly backstory and a sinister butler, was due to tour venues this Spring with performances taking place across the UK. But, along with other theatre productions, the tour was cancelled with the arrival of the Covid-19 lockdown.
“All the ways of experiencing Raddlesham Mumps are different,” said producer Matthew Linley, “but all have a common theme. On our creative journey we were joined by the University of Essex and, through their EIRA scheme, we explored the impact of telling the story in these different ways. Now, these findings have been shared at conferences across Europe, and are influencing the development of our next project, Iffly Sney and the Tandlesham Nook.”
So, how do children get involved with the creation of Murray’s latest offering, Iffly Sney and the Tandlesham Nook?
“We were meant to be developing Iffly in rehearsal rooms in the East and North West” explains Matthew “but Covid19 put a stop to that. However, thanks to the understanding and flexibility of Arts Council England the creative team will now be running the R&D in the digital space from their own homes up and down the country. A key part of that R&D will be reviewing and working with the material the children send us.”
Working with the digital storytelling company Metro Boulot Dodo (MBD Limited) with input from primary school teachers, Murray Lachlan Young has developed a series of learning resources linked to the National Curriculum which are available on both the Raddlesham Mumps and MBD Ltd websites. By working through these online activities, children will have the opportunity to learn whilst also contributing to the research and development of Iffly Sney.
And, with the suspension of the usual school timetable, these fun and interactive lesson plans and worksheets are also a perfect resource for parents and carers looking for home-schooling activities.
“We may have had to rip up our initial development plans for Iffly Sney and start all over again,” said Matthew Linley, “but we’re really excited by where this new digital audience-focused creative journey is going to take us!”
Thanks to Arts Council England, I have spent the last ten months ‘developing as a freelance Creative Practitioner’. I have learnt loads of new skills, been to some brilliant towns and cities, formed some fantastic new partnerships, made some wonderful new friends and theatre-making contacts and turned the spare room into an office in the process. Now I’m writing my end of project Activity Report, I’m realising how many amazing arts projects I’ve been lucky enough to work on since February 1st….
An Honest Gentleman (Stuff of Dreams Theatre Company), The Mystery of the RaddleshamMumps (Murray Lachlan Young and Matthew Linley Creative Projects), Edith – in the Beginning (Stuff of Dreams, National Trust, Bury Theatre Royal, The Garage Norwich, Colchester & Ipswich Museums), Footsteps (tusk. theatre company and Women’s Voices/Women’s Votes Festival), Satellites (Natalie Songer & Colchester Arts Centre), Our White Skoda Octavia (Shamser Sinha & Eastern Angles), English Civil Whore (Play Nicely) and The Numerous and Varied Assassinations of Oliver Cromwell (Mark Finbow/Keeper’s Daughter).
In that time I have also created a website for my work, annoyed the hell out of people with my increased Social Media activity, attended a series of ITC training courses and attended four conferences/symposiums: Family Arts (Liverpool), Theatre & Touring Symposium (London), National Rural Touring Forum (Bangor) & Audience Agency – Making & Measuring Social Impact (Leeds).
My ‘development’ ends on Saturday. Or does it? Every day’s a school day in this job. I’m looking forward to continuing to work, learn and have more developmental theatre-making fun throughout 2020!
One, The Garage, 14 Chapel Field North, Norwich, NR2 1NY
Join playwright Karen Forbes from Stuff
of Dreams Theatre Company for a FREE fun and informal introduction to
writing for the stage. Karen studied scriptwriting at the University of East
Anglia. Her plays include Rebellious Sisterhood, which focused on the
lives of Suffragettes Emmeline Pankhurst and Grace Roe, and Edith in the
Beginning, a new play about the discovery of the Sutton Hoo treasure.
This 1 ½ hour workshop will include
an introduction to all aspects of playwriting including theatre terminology and
idea brainstorming. Using Karen’s latest play (Edith – in the beginning) as a
starting point, we will focus on bringing real-life, local heritage characters
to life. This session will also look at the art of ‘Wellbeing Journal Writing’,
a fantastic skill that allows us to explore our own feelings and emotions through
necessary. Bring a pen and notepad! Age 16 plus.
To allow this workshop to
be fully accessible to d/Deaf or hard of hearing participants, the session will
be supported by Tricia Spencer, a Communication Support Worker and native
signer (Tricia has a Deaf brother and daughter).
This workshop is supported
by Arts Council England.
As part of the Stuff of Dreams Edith Pretty project I’m currently working on, it’s been pleasure to be able to work in partnership with Colchester + Ipswich Museums, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, The Garage in Norwich and Lighthouse Women’s Aid in Ipswich setting-up a series of Creative Writing workshops run by playwright Karen Forbes. These Arts Council-funded sessions will not only introduce participants to the basics of scriptwriting, but they will also provide an introduction to Wellbeing Journal Writing, a simple expressive writing exercise that we can all do to explore our own emotions, experiences and help maintain good mental health. The workshop at The Garage will be accessible to d/Deaf and hard of hearing participants through the generosity of the venue’s Executive Director, Adam Taylor. More info here: https://www.facebook.com/events/530640804423239/?ti=icl
Writer Mark Finbow said: “The research collated by the community research group will feed into the creation of two new scripts which will then be taken forward into rehearsed readings at The Key Theatre in Peterborough.”
The first play will explore the assassination attempts on Oliver Cromwell focusing on Edward Sexby and members of the Miles Sindercombe Group.
The second play will explore the fascinating lives of women who dressed as men in order to fight on the frontline during the English Civil War and highlight women’s roles in society during this time of conflict. To find out more about the projects contact Mark Finbow at firstname.lastname@example.org