Mandala is BAME led, Yasmin Sidhwa, toured nationally and internationally as an actor and director, and was Creative Learning Director at Pegasus for 17 years, before founding Mandala.
‘Dis-Connected’ R&D is the 2nd part of our trilogy ‘Place, Identity and Belonging’ building on a successful ACE funded ‘Night Light’ Tour, which resulted in a national 9 cities and 2 international cities tour of the play.
The project will research through in-depth creative workshops and discussions with young people, from communities where radicalisation and urban separation and division are particularly potent, their experiences of ‘connection or dis-connection’ to the communities they have grown up in.
Working with upcoming writer Atiha Sen Gupta, (Writer-in-Residence at Stratford East and winner of the IAR Award for Best Playwright), researchers from the Institute for Research in Education (University of Bedfordshire) to explore the stories of young people and ensuring their voices are central to the new play.
The project will work with the venues to involve BAME young people and actors, who have grown up or live in Luton or Bedford, for the rehearsed reading and subsequent tour.
As one of four Catalyst Co-lab artists for TestBeds, part of ACE’s Luton Investment Programme, Yasmin is currently working with University of Bedfordshire’s academics using research methodology as a strategy to engage with new audiences, identifying organisations and venues with a willingness to develop strong community links and to engage new audiences and a desire to use Mandala’s work as a catalyst for longer term creative projects.
The ‘Dis-Connected’ R&D is part of our Audience Engagement strategy to build and grow a network of venues and community supporters to enable a strategic national tour in 2018, with the aim of using performances as a catalyst for dialogue, debate and creative participatory activities.
In Luton and Bedford, we are building partnerships through University of Bedfordshire Access and Outreach Team, through Luton Culture including Luton in Harmony and local Community Centres, Luton Sixth Form and Bedford Sixth Form Colleges, local schools – Cardinal Newman and Stopsley Schools and the performing arts department at University of Bedfordshire.
We will run several creative workshops in many of the community organisations and groups, to explore the theme and to gauge the potential level and appetite for future engagement whilst working with the venues to facilitate the journey of new audiences as well as developing work beyond our visits.
The University of Bedfordshire’s Theatre, though set in the heart of a Campus is keen to involve the local community in accessing their programme. Their vision is for all to benefit from transformational experiences, especially the arts, and they actively want to encourage a range of local cultural communities to participate and be part of a regular audience. Luton Culture, who run The Hat Factory, encourage groups in the community to actively participate in the arts and to use their art to make a difference, especially wanting to programme work that is locally relevant as well as being nationally important.
Mandala will be working with Executive Dean of Academic Partnerships, who works closely with the Performing Arts Department and with the Arts and Culture Project Manager, University of Bedfordshire Theatre. Through the Access and Inclusion Department, we will be developing partnerships with local schools, colleges and Youth groups in Bedford and Luton, working with local students both at the University and at the Sixth Form colleges, using the theatre space to work creatively in and bringing groups to the theatre.
Luton Culture’s, The Hat Factory, will ensure we work with local artists, assisting with recruitment and providing space for auditions and
June to mid-July
1) Meetings with Venues and Community organisations about audience engagement (Bedford, Luton, London, Stockton, Coventry, Oxford);
2) Meetings and Creative workshops with Researchers and young people in various cities;
Mid-July to end August
1) Regular Script development sessions with Writer; Director; Venue Programmers;
2) Recruit actors for Rehearsed Readings;
1) Rehearsals at UOB Theatre and The Hat Factory;
3) Invited audiences from listed cities for Rehearsed Readings and Talkback sessions including young people; Venue programmers; Testbeds artists & staff; UOB Researchers;
4) Evaluation with Venue programmers; UOB Researchers;
5) Submission of ACE Strategic Touring application.