Outreach Workshops at Derby Theatre
Soon after arriving to the Black Theatre Live launch at Derby Theatre, I was suddenly surrounded by so many new faces; all these people with different roles and all sorts of specialties and tasks. It felt like witnessing a start of a huge road works project with all the heavy machinery and workforce lining the road.
Luckily, we all found ourselves in good hands, with Caroline and Emma from Derby’s Creative Learning Department, who soon made us feel at home and the sessions were on their way.
All the Black Theatre Live members have sent their outreach officers or their local freelance artists who they work with. One of the speakers noted: ‘There’s so much expertise in this room.’ That was a fact. Every one of them had the knowledge of the area they’re coming from, people they are working with, a knowhow of engaging different local groups and what sort of obstacles they need to work around. One of the things I found out was that some theatres even though they can be hundreds of miles apart can still share same or similar circumstances, experiences and problems when trying to communicate through to different groups – young people, 25-35s (young professionals), seniors from rural communities, etc. They can also compare their experiences, share tricks & tips. Many years ago I saw professor Steve Austen during a lecture writing on the board a motto ‘Network(s) for you’. This was it.
Among other things that day, everyone got to hear Jatinder Verma of Tara Arts giving a talk on Macbeth, from a director’s angle – how Shakespeare in it made evil seductive and an art form. Lots of interesting trivia, such as – it’s the shortest of Shakespeare’s plays; or the word ‘love’ is only used between the main character and his wife. What I found really fascinating were to me little known facts about the hijra community in India; the so called ‘third gender’ and their unique place in the society; from religious rituals to traffic safety. I’ll leave it at that for now. The show will soon open and those who see it will learn more on this subject.
Matthew Xia, theatre director, brought other experiences to the sessions. His interest seems to be in the transformative effects of theatre and we saw a couple of promo videos of his past community projects that came across as very moving. He got us all to play a lot of games, including fast thinking and reactions or remembering your colleagues’ names (a reminder of how rusty I got). However, the mutual embarrassment we went through here – the likes of staring at a colleague’s eyes for 4 minutes and draw their face without once looking at the paper (oh, the results!) – got the team closer together. Then Ola Animashawun gave us an intense, but fun crash course in creative writing (and more games). There’s was no end to my amazement to what stories some of the colleagues were able to come up / write in a space of 30 seconds; or the quality of poems some wrote in less than 5 minutes. Humbling experience.
All of this within one day made us know each other better and will definitely make the long distance communication in the following months easier. Plenty to giggle about, looking back. I made some photos which I’ll share with you.