Research and Development into Brighton People’s Theatre

Research and Development into Brighton People’s Theatre

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  • Submitted By: Naomi Alexander

Our funding from Greenhouse and Arts Council England enabled Brighton People’s Theatre to partner with Brighton Dome and the Brighton Unemployed Families Centre Project to do two things:

  1. Research the demand for and potential for a people’s theatre in the city of Brighton and Hove
  2. Research and develop material for a show exploring the cost of austerity for people in the city, leading to a sharing of material from Tighten Our Belts

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1. Research into Brighton People’s Theatre

As part of this research we talked to other theatre makers across the UK including: Alan Lane from Slung Low, Bryony Kimmings, Evie Manning from Commonwealth, Ned Glasier from Islington Community Theatre and Simon Casson from Duckie.

Here is a summary of our thinking so far:

Vision:

For theatre to be a valued part of the city’s civic and artistic fabric, as an enjoyable way for people to come together and explore what it is to be human

Mission:

To create brave, bold, contemporary theatre with, by and for the people of Brighton (and Hove)

Values:

Open: we work with anyone with an interest in theatre but prioritise working with people who have the fewest opportunities to discover the joys of theatre

Relevant: we create and programme shows that are relevant to people’s lives

Political: we are socially engaged and are motivated by social justice

Long-term: we are committed to forging long-term mutually beneficial relationships with the people we work with

Beautiful: we aspire to create beautiful, affective theatre, always keeping the goal of creating great shows at the heart of everything we do

Collaborative: we will engage some of the UK’s best theatre makers in each production

Aims:

  1. To create shows that speak of and to the lives of people living in the city
  2. To tour original, brave, contemporary theatre to community centres and theatres across the city and beyond
  3. To build a company of non-professional performers
  4. To develop the artistic capabilities of the company members
  5. To develop new audiences from the 92% of people who never/rarely go to the theatre, particularly those on low incomes
  6. To build communities around theatre by offering People’s Theatre membership to anyone participating in theatre workshops or coming to see a show

What we want to do

People’s Theatre Workshops

To set up People’s Theatre Workshops in community centres across the city, enabling people to participate in regular theatre workshops, for fun and to enhance their wellbeing.

Tour Shows

To collaborate with at least one of the UK’s most inspiring theatre makers each year to create new shows that tour to community centres and theatres across the city (and beyond). To programme accessible, relevant and high quality shows by top UK theatre makers in community centres as part of a ‘good night out’ for local audiences.

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2. Research and Development for Tighten Our Belts

We held open workshops across the city, attended by over 40 people. From these workshops we formed a company of 10 non-professional performers who committed to a four month research and development process leading to a work-in-progress sharing at Brighton Dome in February 2016.

Over the four months November 2015 – February 2016 we met twice a week at the Brighton Unemployed Centre Families Project and at the Brighton Dome. During this time we:

  • Explored the question: What is the cost of austerity to people in the city?
  • Researched the cost of austerity (chatting to people, reading newspapers, books and online articles, watching videos)
  • Created original songs, movement sequences (with Gary Clarke), characters and scripts in response to the research
  • Watched these shows for inspiration: Fake it till you make itMen in the Cities, Brainstorm and The Time of Your Life.
  • Agreed a ‘gesture’ for the piece – what we are trying to do to our audience
  • Structured some of the material into a narrative arc we can share with you today
  • Rehearsed for a work in progress sharing at Brighton Dome in February 2016 to get feedback so we can develop the material into a full-length show that we can tour in 2017

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