A behind the scenes look at Theatre Royal Plymouth‘s Our Space project from three different perspectives. In Blog 2 the project X Lead Practitioner and Director Lee Hart takes us through working with participants to become more performance focussed and creating shows.
Transitioning participants from Our Space to Project X
Myself and Jade (the Our Space morning group practitioner) judge when people might be ready to transition to Project X based on what we pick up on in the sessions and through evaluation debriefs at the end of each term. If they’re turning up regularly, they have a ‘hunger’ for it, they start to swell with a bit more passion for making, they kind of get hooked into a creative thing and show signs that they are ready for more, so we have that conversation with them and if they agree then they transition into Project X. Project X offers something more focused, lengthier, but with familiarity. A continuation from the morning group.
Project X is more performance focused. It’s a project by project approach, for the past two years and the next two, we’ll be building year on year in our size and scale so that in the final year there is something with a bigger production budget. We take our time to build and create a show. Sometimes you’ll come to our session and you wouldn’t think that we were rehearsing for a show, it’s quite exploratory and based on building skills. But then we will hone in on something more specific.
A performance project gathers its own momentum and the space opens up something that in a way draws us to speak, divulge and share. Something is built week after week, moment after moment, so I think sometimes people end up doing things almost despite themselves.
They are very interesting people. Their stories of transformation, growth and rebirth are very powerful. And their courage! Turning up time after time with whatever challenge they’ve got and they’ll never acknowledge that, they’re quite humble about it.
Words Like Kites
In November 2018, Project X performed Words Like Kites. The concept of Words Like Kites was a ‘Story Café’ and it took place in an old pub that’s been redesigned for a new community purpose. It sells tea, coffee and cake now but it was a notorious drinking establishment on Union Street, just down the road from the Theatre. In the show, the audience would come in and be shown to their seat by the performers, who were all waiting staff. There was a menu on the table and you could order tea, coffee, cake but most importantly you could order a story. And the story would be delivered to the table, so across the whole café you’d have little micro performances happening simultaneously.
This year we are working on a piece called Underbelly, which will be performed in a derelict building in January 2020.
I much prefer working with non-actors. I mean, a trained actor may be able to better interpret a script, but in terms of generating our own work, non-actors are much more exciting. A trained actor would never come up with this stuff!
Lee Hart, Project X Lead Practitioner and Director, Theatre Royal Plymouth
All show photos: © John Allen