Thursday, March 17, 2016

Sharing Stages with Chickenshed

The Red Balloon
In our home borough of Enfield, there's an unusual, and very successful, theatre for young people called Chickenshed.  It's a place with some very interesting ideas about diversity, especially in relation to disability, and an interest in theatre that is open and inclusive.  We've had a relationship for some time - curating events there and even touring Consumed into the Studio, as well as complementing that with a youth project led by Lucy.   Dave Carey, their remarkable Director of Creative Development, has written music for two of our shows now.

So it was great to be asked by Dave to become directly involved with the company for a few weeks, as part of their new project Sharing Stages.  The clue's in the name - this is a project about the company's partnerships - although actually very few of these are purely theatrical.  There are partners like Amnesty and Barnado's in the mix.  One other director who has been involved is Lou Stein - famous for founding the Gate - and he's just been announced as the holder of a new post in the theatre, which is its Artistic Directorship.  Interesting times in Enfield....

Our piece, devised with 12 young people (a tiny cast by Chickenshed's standards, and a huge one by ours) is about what it feels like to be a teenager today.  We approached it through their own stories, refracted through one another's telling processes; short scenes written in response to the theme; movement based on statistics we found online.  The result, called The Red Balloon, is a rather beautiful and very intense 10-minute play in three short "movements" - and is very musical.  It's not "about" disability or ethnicity in any overt way - but the presence of disabled and diverse young people within it is key to the way it works.  They don't operate on stage in spite of who they are - what they do and what they mean there is very much about who they are.

It's on till this weekend.

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