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Sep. 6th 2017

One common factor: Young People

 By Sara Templeman

 

Two rather different shows.

One outdoors, One indoors. 

One in Luton, One in Croydon

One common factor: Young People 

 

I've done my fair share of one off drama workshops across Schools Colleges Universities and drama groups with Tangled Feet (TF). We always treat any of our workshop participants as if they were part of the company and we form an ensemble within each group that works uniquely together. That's the basis of all our work. Creating work from the group of people in the room. No script and no idea what will happen. It's an exciting way to work.

 

 

For the full blog click 'read the whole story' by the title.

Workshops are often one or two days worth in length, sometimes just an afternoon and although you make a lot of headway and often create small pieces of theatre and magic, there's always scope to develop creative ideas further. It was exciting to embark on two long term projects earlier this Summer with two seperate groups of young people from opposite sides of London (just outside London) Luton & Croydon to be precise. 

 

'Mirror Sky' up in Luton was a large scale outdoor devised show with a cast of over 100 local young people from a bunch of schools and the wonderful Next Generation Youth Theatre (NGYT). The TF crew consisted of further actors/directors/workshop facilitators. It was to be the finale show at the first year of 'Imagine Luton.'

 

It was an epic task organising this many young people working in smaller groups with seperate directors and actors over many weeks, learning choreography TF actors had previously devised. The age range was broad with our youngest performer being just 7 years old! The show explored societies obsession with devices (phones) and the fact we all walk around eyes down, not interacting with each other or taking in the surroundings we might be travelling through. Living inside our own digital worlds. The message we were hoping to try to get across was to look up. Look out at the world. Be here now. Interact. Reconnect. We had four groups of young people rehearsing on different afternoons in schools and church halls across Luton learning their own individual movement pieces that would pop up around Luton town centre on the performance day. We had one day when all groups met and rehearsed the mass ensemble finale with over 100 young people dancing and moving together in St. George's Square in Luton. It was no mean feat when it all came together on the day. Amazing team work and focus and energy from all involved meant it was a big success and a really special community project to partake in for us all! Young and Old (ish) alike. 

 

On that note, 'Tracing the Past' down in Croydon was a community project involving Young and Old from Croydon Youth Theatre Project (CYTO) and the residents of an old people's care home called Whitgift House, as well as other more senior members of The Shoestring Theatre where CYTO are based. The show explored entertainment in Croydon over the last 50 years through accounts from old and young participants. We visited an old people's care home in Croydon with our young people and had the most insightful, jolly and nostalgic afternoon. Old and Young interacted and recalled their experiences of Croydon and what they had all got up to in their spare time in conversation with each other. We recorded the chats to use in the show. The piece was a subtle indoor documentary style piece which was performed in a verbatim style - actors performed with headphones, listening live to the stories we had recorded and spoke them out loud for the audience to hear. Our young people spoke the words of the old and vice versa. 

It was a very simple but effective device for showing the similarities and differences these people had of Croydon. It also transformed 14 year old performers into an 80 year old person in an instant. It was remarkable sometimes. There was a proper respect and regard from both sides in this project. Old were happy to learn that young people still got up to the same old things they had, it wasn't all mobile phones and computer games. 

The oldies (I'm sure they won't mind me calling them that) when they were younger were entertained and excited by new technologies like cinema and music on the radio, then television. We still enjoy that now and technology has rapidly advanced which we enjoy, but we had shared interests that were commonly enjoyed from all participants like dancing and singing, attending cinema, music concerts and enjoying the theatre with friends and loved ones. Also the fact they were part of youth organisations was a very common similarity. It was great to be part of learning this myself as my age sits somewhere between the oldies and the youngies and perhaps you can feel a divide or a distance between social groups like millennial’s, younger people, older generations etc. The fact is we are all still people and enjoy the same things and personal connections and we have more in common than perhaps we might think.

 

A strong connection throughout both projects was a real sense of community.  All ages coming together with a common interest in theatre and wanting to make work and share stories. What also stands out for me across the board was a dedication and commitment to the respective projects and the human connection experienced by all. We collaborated well with each other and some people didn't know anyone at all when we first started and had been brave to come and get involved. They all volunteered their spare time, brought their own fresh ideas to sessions, did research in their own time and behaved professionally. A massive compliment to the youth organisations and schools where our young people volunteered from.

 

Thanks to all who were involved across both projects, I loved working with you all!! 

 

Sara x 

 

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  • The most accessible and original theatre company working in the UK today”

    The most accessible and original theatre company working in the UK today”

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    Tangled Feet offer a glimpse of magic”

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    For Tangled Feet, theatre is a contact sport”

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    Tangled Feet, the masters of physical theatre”

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    They are defining the future of theatre”

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    An astounding spectacle..a uniformly excellent ensemble…stunning”

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