The Place Based Theatre Club
‘The theatre club brought people from all different walks of life together. I seriously hope this project can continue as it has tremendous potential.’
In January 2017, funded by Bristol Ageing Better and in partnership with Redcliffe Care, St Mary Redcliffe’s outreach arm, we ran fortnightly, site-specific, theatre devising sessions inspired by the memories, stories and spaces in and around St Mary Redcliffe and the local area. Our aims in running the project were; to bring a diverse selection of older members of the local community together to learn about their local area, to explore their own and others stories, to learn creative approaches to engaging with place and gain an insight into developing site- specific work, to develop new friendships, meet new people and to develop self confidence, supporting health and well being.
Inspire Day and Tea Party – this introductory session began with journeys through usually unseen and unexplored spaces in the church and continued at the Faith Space community centre, where over 30 people came together for live sharing of stories from community members, an exhibition of local history and presentations from local historians and the neighbourhood development forum – all whilst enjoying tea and delicious cakes, kindly donated for the occasion by local independent café Spicer and Cole.
So many people contributed to making this first day a success and thanks are due to all those who gave their time to help us set it all up, attendees and volunteers as well as the contributors of stories and knowledge about the church and local area, past, present and future. A particular highlight was Eric Tyley’s memory of his Redcliffe childhood, a pre-car, pre-war Redcliffe, complete with bustling Docks, haggis and pea shops and horse drawn carriages. Sessions then ran from January through to April 1st on Thursday afternoons at the Faith Space. The Inspire day had generated a story bank of local history and a group of ten over 50’s who signed up for the duration of the course.
‘I joined in on these sessions as part of a journey of self-discovery. This was to take me out of my comfort zone, as I have not participated in drama/theatre type events before, other than being a member of the audience.’
The first few sessions were led with great energy by our writer, Miriam Battye, who took everyone through a series of games and introductory exercises working with unearthed stories, another explored the world of audio-visual artist, Tom Price from the collective Limbic Cinema, a further session, led by PECo’s artistic director, Rachel Aspinwall, took place in the church itself and explored how the physical spaces and atmospheres of the church and the relationship of the audience to the site, might impact how a story gets performed or told.
‘I loved meeting other people, hearing other people’s stories and learning writing techniques’
‘I got to meet people who live in the Redcliffe area and people who live in other parts of Bristol.’
‘The course leaders are top notch, friendship, interesting ideas.…it woke my brain up!’
The club resulted in a proposal for a site-inspired, site-specific community play which puts the activity of a community sharing the stories it feels are important to be told about itself centre stage, in a playful and imaginative way.
‘I have so enjoyed the enthusiasm and courtesy of all involved, the honesty of sharing stories and learning human details of lives over the centuries. I like the sense of a journey with an unknown final destination.’
You can read the evaluation of the club in full by clicking on this link SMR Place Based Theatre evaluation and we are delighted to announce that Bristol Ageing Better have funded a further group that will be taking the ideas developed for the community play forward its next few steps.
You can read more about this group; the Redcliffe Senior’s Community Theatre Collective in our what’s on section here.