I want to start off by thanking those who have been involved or got involved with this project.
Debbie Davies – providing us with the Space at C4CC. It was a wonderful space to work in and would hope to work there again in the near future.
To all those who participated and shared their love and gratitude of Community Arts: Sara Athens, I-Hsuan Chen, Athena Agroti
To Shalyn Yong: for demonstrating her energetic workshop based on the theme of ‘separation’.
And finally to Carlos Arenas: for coming on board to help me with the logistics, documenting and facilitating the process. He is a pleasure to work with and is also very good at taking my verbal abuse. What a legend.
why should we as artists/practitioners celebrate community arts?
On the 17th February 2014, I decided to put together a workshop to celebrate World Community Arts Day for students of Central School of Speech and Drama. As the future of drama leaders and artists, I believe that we should take the opportunity to come together and share our skills and ideas in hope that it continues to build the community network within our school.
There was a morning and an afternoon session, both very different but both very interesting! By the end of the day we had accumulated lots of drawings, scribbles and writing materials, which we gathered all into our TIME CAPSULE. This is in hope that next year, whoever might run the session next year, can open it up and see what we got up to!
But before we get to the end, let’s begin at the start of the day.
MORNING SESSION – GLOBAL COMMUNITY THEATRE.
This session we looked at how community theatre might be different around the world. The purpose was to collaborate with each others experience of “community theatre” and see what was our outcome. Totally open with direction and discussion. (Plus we had grapes and cakes to munch on, so it was pretty casual!)
Our first exercise, at first glance looks pretty confusing, but there was a method to our madness! We wrote down in a quick fire fashion everything that we understood by community theatre from our hometowns. We were made up of 1 Colombian from Bogotá, 1 American from Alaska and 1 Birtish from Nottingham. We then took the time to read each other’s and question what we meant by certain terms. In these discussions we were seeing a lot of similarities such as “community theatre being deemed as ‘amateur’ or ‘low quality’. We all agreed upon that community theatre sometimes doesn’t get the full recognition it deserves, and sometimes the point gets missed, that it’s more to do with ‘bringing people together’ rather than putting on something of ‘stupendous quality’.
We connected our ideas together based on similar themes and experiences we have had in the past. We all saw that we had taken part in a community theatre group back at home, and we all had some positive and negative points on this, which lead us onto our next exercise.
Sara posed the question, ‘What would you do differently to your community projects back home now you’re learning all you know at Central School’? to answer this, we gave ourselves 10 minutes to note down an example of a local performance/festival/group that we knew of and imagine we were now in charge of the project. We all had very in depth detail about the aims/intentions of the project, the creative process and how it would be long running in the future. However, we were stumped on two things…
HOW DO YOU GET THE FUNDING? AND HOW DO YOU GET THE PARTICIPANTS TO START WITH?!
Which again…. We digressed onto one final exercise. Advertising our show!
We picked up on my idea (for no particular reason – maybe because if we got REALLY into it we could always drive up north and start prompt!) and drew an advert, asking for people to join my company. We thought it was important to state what it was and include a picture of a local hero, to get them hooked! We were pretty logistic too, thinking about when submissions for applicants (yes – very professional) had to be in with relevance to when the show was to perform. Typical of MA Students I suppose?
The session was really great to find out what community theatre was like in specific areas of the country, and surprise ourselves with the similarities and differences too. I think we were all very proud of our experiences… I certainly am very pleased I was involved in pantomime from a young age, down the local council hall, slapping my knee and yelling catchphrases about the fact that no one was behind me…