In Bradford we worked with Culture Fusion and Bradford Alhambra to create a play in a week over the October half term linked to To Sir With Love. Over the week the group worked with our Creative Engagement Director, Tom Bellerby, to create a piece that was performed in the Bradford Alhambra Studio at the end of the project, before the cast have the chance to see To Sir, With Love the following week.
Whether they had lots of experience or this was the first time they had set foot in a theatre this was a chance for our cast to spend a week in the life of an actor, working with a professional creative team in the cities largest theatre. The week was fun, accessible and ever so slightly frantic as we raced against the clock to get the piece on stage!
I felt the project was by and large a success. It engaged a number of young people who had not previously participated in theatre related activity, many of whom were from “hard to reach” backgrounds. The three days of the project went smoothly with a high level of engagement from the participants, so much so that a sharing of work was organised. The fact that many of the participants were keen for a more permanent drama based group to be established at Culture Fusion is hopefully proof that many want to continue to engage with theatre.
The Alhambra were great hosts for the project and let us have complete use of the studio facilities. In hindsight I would try and organise a tour around the theatres backstage area and try to find the opportunity to go onto the main stage as the studio very much feels like a separate space to the main building (including having it’s own entrance). This was great in terms of having our own space to work in without disturbing others but I did feel this lead to a disconnect between the space we were working in and the “proper” theatre as some of the young people called it!
The relationship with Culture Fusion was key to the success of the project. As an organistation currently working with young people in the city they were well placed to recruit the participants for the project and I have no doubt without them we would not have attracted anywhere near as many young people not currently engaged in theatre. Although I understand this was an issue of resources, I wonder whether if the Alhambra had been able to promote the project we would have had more participants (although probably not those who had an existing interest in theatre) and this is something to think about in future.
Offering the friends and family of the participants ambassador priced tickets was a success and lead to an additional sixteen people, many of whom were not regular theatre goers, seeing TSWL.
Tom Bellerby, Project Leader, Pilot Theatre Company
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