Sublime Journeys Performance
Monday 7th April 2014
Friday 4th April saw the culmination of a three month project called Journeys, supported by Arts Council England and Stratfird Town Trust, and performed at Stratford College.
Here's the background:
From the Directors
In its programming, the Stratford Literary Festival has always placed a great deal of importance on intergenerational work - getting older and younger people to talk to each other to dispel prejudice and fear. For the last few years we have done wonderful performance projects with primary schools in Stratford, and for 2014 we wanted to so something with secondary schools, hence the Journeys Project was born. ‘Journeys’ is the theme of the 2014 festival and works well as it is open to wide interpretation as travel or a journey through life.
We were successful in securing a grant from Arts Council England and Stratford Town Trust to support the cost of engaging experts in their individual fields to enable students to put the performance together. The idea is that the students can experience and learn skills they might never have had the opportunity to discover, whilst also learning to work as a team.
It all kicked off in January when a small group of students from KES and Stratford Girls Grammar had a workshop with the story telling laureate Taffy Thomas. Then, with the help of charity Kissing It Better and BUPA Care Homes, went into Alveston Leys and Cedar Lawns care homes to chat to residents and gather stories from their past. The stories were then written down and handed on to the theatre director and writer David Calcutt and a group of HND Acting students from Stratford College who began to devise a piece based around the stories - a series of vignettes which are weaved together around one central device. The script, which was written by David based on the stories, was then shared with Judy Reaves, the theatre designer, who worked with students from Stratford College and Stratford Grammar School to create the stage set and props, and to Kirsty Devaney, a composer from Birmingham, who worked with students from KES and Stratford Grammar to produce a score to accompany the piece. The artist Julie de Bastion worked with a group of students from Stratford Girls Grammar and Stratford College to produce pieces of visual art based on the stories which will be displayed at the performance on 4th April. Two further students from Stratford Girls Grammar worked with technicians at Stratford College to devise and produce the technical requirements for the piece.
All those involved worked together in workshops for the last few weeks. We made the decision to move the performance to the College when the problems with the roof at the Artshouse meant we couldn't be certain that the auditorium would be ready. The two technical students were due to work with the Artshouse technicians but sadly couldn't because of the roof issues - but, so they didn't lose out, the RSC tech team very generously gave the girls a backstage tour and chat about how technical requirements - sound and lighting - for performances at the RST are devised.
The biggest challenge of the project has been co-ordinating everyone's time. Most of the students are year 12 and busy preparing for AS levels. We tried hard to engage students from Stratford School, but their timetables and work pressures made it impossible in the end for them to be involved and we are very disappointed about this. However, with so many local groups involved - from Kissing it Better to BUPA, the RSC, College Team and professionals, we have achieved what we set out to do: a wonderful collaboration of skills and people.
The performance itself was both professionally performed and extremely moving - made all the more so because three of the older people we spoke to in January came along to watch. The actors met them afterwards - effectively meeting the people they had become in the performance.
The Festival is enormously grateful to everyone involved in helping to stage something quite unique and exceptional.
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