Two drama productions were created as part of the Brierley Hillness project; focusing on Brierley Hill past, present and future.
1) “One Boy, One Town, One Big Idea!” 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.
Below are some extracts from the script written by Rachel Sharpe. If you have time to watch the live performance (1 hour, spilt into three parts) click on the link below.
Find out more about the devising process and performance methodology.
One Boy, One Town, One Big Idea!
A Dudley Performing Arts Production, Written by Rachel Sharpe.
© Dudley Performing Arts. All Rights Reserved.
( Reference to Marsh & Baxters – was a huge employer in Brierley Hill. )
George: I don’t want to talk about school, tell me about where you work Nan. Tell me about all those machines again. I like that story.
Nan: Alright George, You walk through the door…
Nan: There’s big two huge chimneys, they reach
George: Right up as far as the eye can see
Nan: There’s 23…
George: Roofs that you could count if you were up in the sky in an aeroplane.
George: More windows than you will ever see, possibly more than Buckingham Palace!
George: Big lorries. Giant lorries driving in and out all day.
George: And inside you can see giant rails with the hams curing on them.
George: Is spotlessly clean.
Nan: And there’s
George: A special ventilation system. One of the finest in the country.
George: Everywhere is really bright, just as if it was a summer’s day, all through the year.
The Centenary Meeting of the
‘Brierley Hill Historical Photography and Reminiscence Group’
Muriel: Welcome, welcome, welcome. Welcome one and all to the centenary meeting of the Brierley Hill Historical Photography and Reminiscence Group. Tonight I have the great honour of leading the one hundredth meeting of this esteemed historical society, and I am very pleased to see some new faces. Particularly Joan Noakes, who sent in some wonderful photos from the 1930’s cataloguing the transportation, movement through the underground tunnels and finally slaughter of the pigs for Marsh and Baxter’s. And Joan, your description of the sounds of the pigs screaming along the tunnels as the sound track to your childhood walks, has been noted in our archive book. Right. As usual we will be deciding on our focus areas for the next months work. Any ideas. [Lots of hands go up and people begin to shout things out – Muriel buts in] Before I open the floor up I’d like to thank Peter Cummings for his wonderful description which appeared in the Black Country Bugle, of life at the Round Oak Steel Works
George: Actually that was my description.
Muriel: Oh dear, I do apologise. And you are?
George: George Beddard
Muriel: Well Thank you Mr Beddard. And now moving on….
George: I sent in some other stuff as well. Some pictures of the building of Merry Hill. [Sharp intake of breath from the group] What did I say?
Muriel: We are a historical society George. Historical. We don’t cover the eighties.
George: But isn’t that history now?
[Sharp intake of breath from the group.]
Muriel: Not really George, if you’re interested in cataloguing retail history, there are many other societies that you can go to. But we stop at 1956.
[The group all mutter ‘1956’ under their breath like a mantra]
Muriel: Because that is what we do. Now if there are no more questions let’s …
Lawrence: I’ve got some photos as well. I took some of the new Health and Social Care building. Managed to get a photo of each stage.
Carol: I heard it’s won an international award for architecture.
Janet: I bet they haven’t won an award for planning bus routes!
Susan: It’s going to be the landmark of the future, that and the new college development, it’s just incredible.
Lawrence: Should bring Brierley Hill up to the 21st century at last!
Muriel:Lawrence, there’s no need for that. These new buildings aren’t the essence of the Brierley Hill we all know and love. Our job as a society is to preserve what has been, enjoy the pleasures of yester year!
Maureen: That’s all well and good Muriel, but it doesn’t help the young mums when they need to change their babies nappies, and there’s no where to do it. Or the pensioners who find it hard to get around and the bus routes seem to conspire against them! And what do we say to our children, when they ask us how we helped shape Brierley Hill.
Muriel: With respect, that has nothing to do with us.
Carol: That’s an interesting point Maureen, I think it’s very important to catalogue all the changes in our life time.
Muriel: There are other societies that talk about modern history. We on the other hand do not want to!
Lawrence: That’s your opinion Muriel. I think it’s important to catalogue the changing face of Brierley Hill. It’s not all about history, Muriel, it might be refreshing to look at what’s happening now, and maybe have a hand in changing the future of our town.
Muriel: ReallyLawrence, well, you’ve never expressed this before!
Lawrence: [Under his breath] I have tried to, but you wouldn’t listen.
Muriel: Let’s open this up to the floor shall we. Who else would like to look at modern history as well? [All hands go up]. Right. As we are making a significant deviation from the group’s original plans, this will have to be taken to the committee first, and that will involve a special committee meeting, so we will have to hold onto this motion, until a meeting can be arranged.
Lawrence: Forgive the interruption Muriel, but aren’t all the committee here?
Lawrence: Well couldn’t we have a vote now? After all, we don’t want you holding onto your motions for too long, it might make you ill.
Muriel: Well Lawrence, this is highly irregular, but yes. Is anyone from the committee interested in looking at the modern face of Brierley Hill as well [Lawrence’s hand goes up] you need a seconder [another hand goes up Muriel is shocked]
Muriel: Betty, I thought…. you’ve always been such a loyal friend.
Lawrence: Motion passed.
Carol: Does that mean we can look at the past and the future?
Janet: It’s a good time to do that.
Susan: We could think about what we want Brierley Hill to look like, rather than just what it used to look like.
Maureen: Have a hand in changing the future, we could become part of the history of this town!
Carol: We could look at what amenities are needed, like you said Maureen, baby changing facilities and things like that.
Janet: Meeting places, not just takeaways.
All apart from Muriel: Here! Here!
Susan: Bus routes that are useful! And take us where we want to go!
Maureen: Find a way to live side by side with Merry Hill and not just get swallowed up by it.
[The group, apart from Muriel, applaud this comment]
Carol: Find out what the people want to do, instead of telling them. What do they want their town to look like, where do they want things to be located?
Janet: Save the old buildings.
Muriel: Thanks goodness Janet, some sense at last!
Susan: But make them functional.
[Sharpe intake of breath from Muriel]
Maureen: Make the town centre feel like a town centre, instead of Merry Hill’s poor cousin!
George: Give the town some pride!
Muriel: What has any of this got to do with us?
George: Well as a lifelong citizen of Brierley Hill, I’ve watched this place change from a small close knit community to a modern town. I was born here, worked here, had my children here, and I will most likely die here, and do you know what, I’ve loved every minute! I’m proud to say I’ve been shaped by this place, the good bits and the bad, and one important lesson I have learnt is it’s nice to look back and take stock of where we’ve come from, but you can’t hide behind nostalgia, it’s all well and good being the caretakers of the past, but it’s our job to be the forgers of the future. Why should we leave our town’s future in the hands of people who have never lived here, we’re more qualified than anyone to shape what’s coming next, it’s our birthright!
2) “Brierley Hilliness” is a drama piece inspired by street interviews filmed during 2011 as part of the Brierley Hillness project. Mike Tinsley worked with Age UK’s drama group based at Merry Hill to write the piece, which was performed outside the shopping centre and filmed.
Some extracts from the script written by Fran Cartwright and Carol Duke are below, but if you want to watch the filmed version (15 mins), click on the link below.
Find out more about the devising process.
An AgeUK production, written by Fran Cartwright and Carol Duke
© AgeUK, Dudley. All Rights Reserved.
Scene: People talking at a Bus Stop
L: Hallo everyone! Are we all waiting for the bus?
L: Well, it’s not the most attractive place to wait is it? Needs some improvement. Look at that shop (pointing) the glass has fallen out the windows, and the rollers are such a dull grey, aren’t they?
M: (entering) Oh, that shop has such happy memories for me. Used to be a chemists owned by my father, fascinating for me as a child; all those lovely coloured bottles…brings tears to my eyes when I see it…and, d’you know, it was turned into a dental surgery, and I used to work there as a nurse…
F: (interrupting) It all needs painting, bright colours. Like that children’s programme Tobermory, and they could do with some flowers – real and painted.
F: So let us paint a picture of how we’d like to see a future Brierley Hilliness and how it soon could be…
D: An orderly and ordered place
J: Shows ladies fashion fair
M: Keen busy markets decked with flowers
E: and tea shops on the square…
S: No traffic noise, but pleasant sound of fetes and celebrations round…
L: shops all painted fresh and new pink and white to green and blue
Like Tobermory welcomes you…
Chorus: A friendly place where people meet to sit and chat; ‘come have a seat’
M: try out their skills; well, here comes mine, a song, a tune, a comic line…
(strikes up ukulele and cast dance)