Drama – “One Boy. One Town. One Big Idea!”
This was a Dudley Performing Arts dance and physical theatre production, involving Buzz Youth Theatre and 110 children from four local primary schools. It was performed at the Civic Hall in Brierley Hill to an audience of almost 200 people.
Featuring real life stories of local residents, this production looks back on Brierley Hill’s past and celebrates its modern changes. Throughout the play, the audience meet George at six important stages in his life. Within each stage we meet George in different buildings in Brierley Hill.
The production ends with a plea, the central theme of the narrative; that celebrating and cataloguing the past is important, but you must also be an active part of the town’s future. This is the big idea alluded to in the title – becoming an active planner of the future for your town.
The play was written and directed by Rachel Sharpe from Dudley Performing Arts. Buzz Theatre Company, a local youth theatre group, are aged 14 – 25 and either live locally in Brierley Hill or the surrounding area. In between the scenes on stage performed by Buzz Youth Theatre, children performed contemporary dance pieces, inspired by elements of the story. See extracts from One Boy. One Town. One Big Idea! script © Dudley Performing Arts.
From the initial planning discussions, it was always envisaged that the production should be an honest reflection and celebration of the people of Brierley Hill. Charting the ever-changing, and at points contentious, built environment which houses a diverse, proud and passionate community.
Research began with books written on the local area; in particular the books of Ned Williams were useful, giving a pictorial and anecdotal record of the town’s history. Research continued through face to face interviews with local people, in particular community leaders. This information was then used to form the basis of the devising process.
Download Approaches to Community Engagement and Lessons Learnt. This is a slightly extended and print ready version (PDF).
Participants and staff discuss the project during the final rehearsals.
Creative Writing – Spoken word, MC-ing and song writing
Emma Purshouse delivered two creative writing workshops at The Brierley Hill Project. She encouraged the participants to engage using their preferred style of self-expression; MC-ing, poetry and song.
Over the two sessions seven people made contributions. Some contributions were purely verbal and some contributed written and oral work. The age range of participants was 21 upwards.
Emma’s workshops involved setting up a number of bite-sized activities for people to participate in. This approach works because it allows for attention spans and people who might feel uncomfortable if they had to stay for a long period in the same space. It enabled people to drop in and out of sessions.
One of these was for individuals to write single words or sentences on post-it notes. These were then combined into a group poem – an instant poem that people could hear straight away.
Visual Poem – messages in rhyme stuck onto placards. Each placard is a different person speaking (gaps indicate new person speaking).
From God we need a gift
Let’s be honest
We need a face lift
Put some spark
Into the parks
Leave it the same
I’d still complain
A proper dive
Outta here alive
Don’t take my library
I want books for free
Gimme some clubs
Where I can practice me dubz!
I think it’s great
I’m not sure
It’s such a state
I’m still stacking Pasta
But hopefully soon
We’ll have George
Enter at your will.
Another exercise involved drawing up a list of buildings in Brierley Hill – the good, the bad and the ugly. This group exercise was used as a starting point for writing creative pieces in the voice of various buildings, such as the Old Market Café and Police Station.
A Riddle…which building am I?
I can greet you with a grin
Or I can swallow you whole.
I can make you confident
Or leave you desperate.
My question is why have you come through my door?
Answer:- The Police Station
The idea of using different activities was to enable people to drop in and out of the session and contribute something, or stay for the whole session and develop longer pieces of work.
Malcolm reading Brierley Hillness is
We had provided Emma with some key questions that we were seeking to answer during the Brierley Hillness project. Many of the questions lent themselves to creative writing activities. Brierley Hillness Questions
Instead of bombarding participants with questions, activities were set up which might inadvertently answer a number of the questions.
Many of the participants responded easily to questions about Brierley Hillness. However, in initial conversations some were falling into the trap of either coming up with stereotypical answers or answers that they felt were wanted. The creative activities helped people bypass these stock responses and come up with responses which were more thoughtful and relevant to them.
Steve singing about Brierley Hill.
Download Approaches to Community Engagement and Lessons Learnt for a slightly extended and print ready version (PDF). Download a TEXT ONLY VERSION Approaches to Community Engagement and Lessons Learnt (Word).