‘ABEBE’S SPACE ROCKET’ is a new production aimed at 6-10 year olds placing multicultural childhoods at the heart of British culture and children’s theatre. This application supports the plays’ initial R & D phase. The play will enhance Key Stages 1 and 2 Citizenship and Science teaching and eventually tour schools and studios. Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds (TRBSE) is the lead venue collaborating with South Hill Park Arts Centre (SHPAC) providing technical design expertise. The New Wolsey will support in developing the productions’ funding plan. Shamser has 15+ years’ experience working with children from diverse and vulnerable backgrounds as an academic, youth worker and playwright.
Abebe (7) and her brother Ari (10) are orphans from Ethiopia living in rural Suffolk. They want to belong and find home. But while Abebe wants her brother to play with her and help her adjust, he is attempting to make his own friends and is falling in love. Their foster family don’t understand them. Abebe loves making things go bang, fizz and pop often with disastrous consequences and needs Ari’s help to build a rocket for the local schools science competition. But Ari is in love and constantly busy. Abebe’s rocket fails and she’s laughed at and Ari is rejected by his ‘friends’. He realises he needs her like she needs him, while Abebe’s enthusiasm inspires a previously reclusive foster grandparent. The three build a space rocket. It is launched to a great rumpus and the children find a new family and home.
The play will be developed through weekly sessions with TRBSE’s schools projects and youth theatre alongside child migrant community groups Shamser works with. This engagement will enhance links, build audiences and provide a way of cascading the plays’ promotion through the community. We will regularly update an online blog charting our progress and raising the production’s profile. In January 2018, and supported by the New Wolsey, we will develop a funding plan in which audience development will be integral. There will also be a week long R & D workshop at SHPAC in March 2018 developing the imagery for the future campaign through a publicity photoshoot and video providing high quality documentation. In summer 2018, the play will have work in progress performances at TRBSE’s children’s theatre festival -‘ONCE UPON A FESTIVAL’. Potential co-producers including the New Wolsey will be invited. The production will tour schools and studios in 2018/19.
TRBSE, a lead player in Black Theatre Live, and SHPAC are developing new theatre with vulnerable and disadvantaged groups with remarkable impact. Both aim to sustain and diversify such provision. TRBSE’s ‘Once Upon a Festival’ inspires children across East Anglia while SHPAC’s youth theatre and young producers programs are emerging catalysts for diverse theatre making. Producing and eventually touring ‘ABEBE’S SPACE ROCKET’ plays a central strategic role for both venues. The legacy will be; an enriching and diversifying of the children’s theatre landscape in Suffolk and Berkshire and the creation of new venue collaborations for potential future commissions and productions.
Shamser will script potential excerpts from the play. These will be developed iteratively further through weekly workshop sessions with TRBSE’s schools projects and youth theatre and also children’s migrant community groups. Children’s voices will be central and we will embed theatre practice in community life and vice versa. In March 2018, SHPAC will host a week long workshop drawing on both venues young companies where the play and its design will be tested. The R & D phase will culminate in work in progress performances in July 2018 at TRBSE’s ‘Once Upon a Festival’, which is devoted to children’s theatre.
OCTOBER 2017 – MARCH 2018 – Weekly play development workshops with TRSBE’s schools projects and youth theatre and children’s migrant community groups Shamser works with. Periodic design, technical and story input from SHPAC.
JANUARY 2018 – TRSBE, SHPAC and the New Wolsey will commence developing a funding plan for future production and touring.
MARCH 2018 – SHPAC week long R & D workshop to develop the play and its design
APRIL – JUNE 2018 – Weekly play development workshops continue
JULY 2018 – Work in progress performances at ‘Once Upon a Festival’
2018/2019 – TOUR