In response to The Jungle, The Brothers Size and The Inheritance | YV Taking Part

It’s been a busy start to 2018 for our incredible education and outreach team, Young Vic Taking Part. Working in response to some stunning productions in the YV’s Main House including The Jungle, The Brothers Size and The Inheritance, they’ve been working with a wide range of people from Lambeth, Southwark and beyond.

The Tide

The Tide was our schools response to The Jungle and was met with some amazing feedback. Written by Eno Mfon, directed by Eva Sampson and performed by local teenagers, The Tide explored what is home, family and migration and was performed in the YV’s Maria space with a stunning design incorporating trampolines by Cecile Tremolieres.

The Brothers Size Parallel Production

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Taking Part have also been working with HMP Wandsworth. At the beginning of February Jonathan Ajayi, Sope Dirisu, Manuel Pinheiro and Anthony Welsh performed Bijan Sheibani’s production of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s The Brothers Size.  Forty men currently at the prison watched the sharing and were invited to take part in our project inspired by the theme’s explored in McCraney’s work. The script they develop with writer Luke Barnes will form a later production with young offenders, directed by Justin Audibert.

Neighbours Known. Neighbours Unknown.

In collaboration with the acclaimed The Choir with No Name who run choirs for homeless and marginalised people, on a singing project that brings together their members with people from our local boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark. Members of the YV Taking Part’s Neighbourhood Theatre have been working on Neighbours Known. Neighbours Unknown. a singing project that celebrates singing, community and togetherness. They’ll be performing on Sat 17 March at The Workshop in Vauxhall.

Within Reach

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Taking Part have also had the first few rehearsals of Within Reach, a movement based response to Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance, led by Grace Gibson. Working with people who have HIV or have been directly affected by the illness, the work will be shared in early May.

Arts in Schools Campaign

Taking Part has also been working hard on arts in schools and worked on the first London Theatre Consortium symposium on a future curriculum for drama education which YV AD Kwame Kwei-Armah spoke at. Find out more about the event and people’s responses on our video.

Sing Before You Speak Again | A Taking Part community response to Wings

“These are stories we don’t often get a chance to hear – indeed they are often the hardest stories for people who have had strokes to articulate until they are set to music. Music seems to tap into a part of the brain that sets language free, the rhythm allowing words to flow where they are normally stumbled over”

Written after a series of workshops with stroke recovery groups, Parkinson’s community groups and dementia healthy living clubs and inspired by Natalie Abrahami’s production of Wings by Arthur Kopit, Sing Before You Speak Again was staged this November.

 

Sing Before You Speak Again‘s director Thomas Martin explained a little more about the production which took the form of an original choral song cycle written by Deanna Rodger and Joseph Atkins.

Some of the text was verbatim, but most of it was poetic – in Deanna’s lyrical world, memories become motors, houses become ships tossed about on a cold sea, and brains become balloons to be popped or let go. Joe’s composition brings these images to life with rich and challenging harmonies, filled with cheeky echoes of our participants’ favourite artists – Bob Marley, The Beatles, Joni Mitchell.

 

Sing Before You Speak Again has taken us through a range of emotions with the hope that our audiences leave with a little more understanding of what having a stroke feels like and the often disorientating effects – Wendy, Participant

Following the week of performances some of the company took part in a series of special performances at community centres with Nunhead Dementia Cafe, time & talents and Stockwell Healthy Living Club who helped inspire the original songs that the creative team had met during their original workshops.

It was so brilliant to have such great entertainment and even more special to meet the singers. – Nunhead Dementia Cafe

We’re extremely grateful to some incredible local groups who opened their doors and allowed us to get involved. Our production wouldn’t have been possible without the workshops and support of the following organisations, Aphasia Re-Connect, Southwark and Lambeth Parkinson’s Support Group, Stockwell Healthy Living Club and Time & Talents.

Reflecting on Zimbabwe | Unified Women

Unified Women artwork. Orange background with silhouettes of two young women standing outside holding hands.

Written 2,500 years ago by Aeschylus The Suppliant Women is one of the world’s oldest plays and yet speaks to us through the ages with startling resonance. Seven young women aged between 18-25 from Lambeth and Southwark travelled to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe this September working in response to Ramin Gray’s production, with the YV Taking Part team and director, Sasha Milavic Davies. Zimbabwean writer, Noma Damasane, aka. Lady Tshawe worked with the group to produce a piece of work which reflected the shared experiences across the two groups of women, regardless of their geography or local cultures.

We asked some of our group of women to document their “once-in-a-lifetime experience”, sharing their observations and best moments from their cultural exchange which started with one forgotten passport 😉

Monique takes it from here…

The hardest thing about travelling for me is packing, I can do it quickly but I’m never sure I’ve packed the right things. However, whether your top to bottoms ratio is right means nothing if one forgets to pack the most important item: the passport. Yes ladies and gentlemen I forgot my passport! My mother would be so ashamed.

We arrived in Bulawayo to be greeted by the warm sun of Zimbabwe, Josh of the Nhimbe Trust and two of our cast mates, Sta and Musa, with big smiles. 

After being welcomed by the lovely Noma (our writer) we were treated to an amazing performance Khaya Arts plus the coolest band I’ve ever seen, The Afro Queens. Don’t think that just because we were guests and had been travelling for a whole day we could just sit back and enjoy the show. No! We formed a circle and it was dance time. I’m proud to say I have a really good sense of rhythm and I can throw it down on any given night but the Zim Girls brought something completely different to the table. The way they and the performers of Khaya Arts move is incredible! I have to learn.


Anasthasia from our London group also talked about the huge welcome they received and the early experiences in Bulawayo and further afield… 

My official introduction to the Zimbabwean girls felt like a huge party where the UK girls and I were the guests of honour. We were greeted with such amazing performances, with the most energetic being an amazing stomp dance act by Khaya arts showing us the natural rhythm that the Zimbabweans had to offer. With the food being similar to the African food I had back in the UK, Zimbabwe started to feel a little more like home.

Cultural learning was a key part of this experience where I learnt about both new and old cultural traditions from the Zimbabwean girls, museums, art galleries and heritage sites. There was even a talk by Pathisa Nyathi, one of the most respected historians in Zimbabwe, about the spirituality of the Shona and Ndebele people as well as traditions surrounding marriage; a talk which almost felt like an exact mimic of Danaus speech to his daughters on the same topic. One line that really stood out for me from Pathisa’s speech was “As it is above, so is below”.  It summarises African spirituality and what made an African African; the conservation of the human race and life on earth. This powerful ancient mission of African people makes me want to understand more about my own culture and heritage before colonisation; to understand the rich history of my nation.

Looking back on how Sasha and Noma developed their work, Monique reflected on how it helped her find her own voice…

Last week we shared with each other our own personal stories, whether they were about us or women we knew; we bared parts of ourselves that we probably didn’t expect. To say it was emotional is an understatement. I feel privileged to have heard those stories and I trust these women with the sharing of mine.

Probably because of the gravity of such a moment, I didn’t think about how it relates to our project. Turns out Sasha and Noma intended to use some of our experiences in our performance, in other words, mine. I was shocked. I never felt my story was worth telling in the first place compared to the other girls, so for Sasha to use it and ask me to direct a devised piece about it was pretty mind blowing. It was difficult to do. Not only to direct my peers but to dissect my story and give it over to others is a challenge but it was made easier because the story was not personal to the others, so they could offer suggestions and build the piece with me with no holding back. It also helped that I had Tamoy play me and having Anasthasia play my mum was inspired casting, she made me both laugh and cry.

I’m grateful to have worked on my story in that way. It taught that me that even little old me has something worth saying.

Anastasia later described how strong the bonds were between the group was after less than two weeks spent working together…

Departing from the Zimbabwean team was hard and upsetting but it made me realise just how strong the unity between the UK and Zimbabwean group was. Although we physically left the country, we weren’t truly saying goodbye. I like to think that no amount of land, sea or time can break apart the sisterhood made from two very different cultures of unified women formed this summer in 2017.

We shared some of the Unified Women performance in Bulwayo on the Young Vic’s instagram account. Here’s a short snippet of the sharing from our Insta story…

Keep an eye out for YV Taking Part sharing a video of the Unified Women project, and for their future workshops and productions on the YV’s Instagram and Snapchat as well as the YV Taking Part twitter.

The Unified Women project is supported by the British Council, Zimbabwe.
Many thanks to Josh, the Nhimbe Trust and our project partners, Africalia, Youth Contact Centre and Bluez Café
 for hosting us and making the trip so memorable.

Fable | A story spanning three continents

Three countries 🌍
Three schools 🏫
Three weeks 📆

Three incredible groups of young people in London, Brooklyn & Cape Town worked with our incredible creative team to make Fable, a response to Isango Ensemble’s A Man of Good Hope.

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Fable was Written by Luke Barnes, directed by Maddi Kludje and the film was directed and edited by Tristan Shepherd. The story was told in three parts and it explores young people’s perceptions of what it is to be a migrant. Fable was performed by three exceptional groups of children and teenagers in London, Brooklyn and Cape Town.

50 young people, 3 countries exploring their understanding of what it means to be a migrant today. An incredible achievement, a moving experience in such a short space of time. A lot of the young people had never even acted before and they created a whole film in just a few days! I am very proud of them!” – Maddi Kludje

The performers were from six schools, Sacred Heard School and Harris Girls Academy in London, McKinney High Schools and Juan Morel Campos in Brooklyn and Injongo Primary School and Liwa Primary School in Cape Town. You can find out more about the Cape Town schools on Isango Ensemble’s website. 

50 pages of script, over 50 kids and about 18 hours of filming. In many ways, Fable was a mission impossible for a filmmaker but Taking Part’s desire to create something special, their enthusiasm and believe allowed us to make a small miracle.” – Tristan Shepherd

A busy audience of friends and family sit in rows in front of a projector screen ahead of the London Fable sharing in the YV's Maria theatre

Fable sharing in the YV’s Maria theatre

Last week we shared the very first screening with our London casts’ friends and family at the Young Vic which featured this poignant final scene from Part three, filmed in Cape Town with local young people and Isango Ensemble.

Directors Program talks Dramaturgy

The Young Vic Directors Program has recently been deep diving into the world of dramaturgy in British theatre. David Lougmair, who’s facilitating the project, has been joined by David Lan and Bryony Kimmings so far and has upcoming talks with Stewart Pringle and Lyndsey Turner.

David Lan in a workshop at the Young Vic

David Lan in a workshop at the Young Vic. © Leon Puplett

Whilst examining the many ways dramaturgy is practiced and used by established artists working in our theatrical ecology, each workshop has explored different elements of the craft including dramaturgy on productions, dramaturgy in venues, dramaturgy in international work, alongside wider conversations surrounding how the craft is evolving and why the visibility of the role is increasing.

We chatted to theatre maker and dramaturg Zoë Svendsen earlier this year for our Off Book podcast to discuss the important role dramaturgy plays in theatre and how she discovered dramaturgy was part of what she wanted to do. Have a listen below and subscribe on iTunes and Soundcloud.

The Young Vic has been running it’s Directors Program for over a decade, offering young directors a unique opportunity to exchange experiences with peers and be part of a network of talented younger directors, producers and designers.

Find out more about the Directors Program and the opportunities offered across the country.

7 young people head to Zimbabwe with Taking Part | Unified Women

Seven young women from Lambeth and Southwark are headed to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
with YV Taking Part as part of a cultural exchange to create a new show, Unified Women.

The group will be joining 10 women, also aged between 18 – 25, in Bulawayo to create a response to The Suppliant Women. The response will be directed by Sasha Milavic Davies and written by Zimbabwean writer, Noma Damasane.

london - bulawayo

Unified Women will explore the issues that arise in The Suppliant Women, with both groups sharing ideas that affect young women, regardless of their background or geographical location over a first week of workshops. In the second week the company will rehearse working with the creative team, including a local designer, before sharing the work with audiences in Bulawayo. The group will also get to explore parts of Zimbabwe and the area around Bulawayo.

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You can follow the group’s trip and get behind the scenes in rehearsals on the YV snapchat 👻 youngvictheatre, the Taking Part twitter account and the YV’s instagram.

The project is supported by the British Council, Zimbabwe and in collaboration with Nhimbe Trust.

★★★★“Raw and vivid” | Reviews for Start Swimming at Edinburgh Fringe

The reviews are rolling in for YV Taking Part’s Start Swimming, currently playing at Summerhall as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. Start Swimming has sold out to a magnificent response check out what audiences are saying and read the full reviews below.

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Start Swimming company. Photo by Helen Murray.

★★★★
“Radiates puckishness and a sense of mischief”
Time Out | Read the full review

★★★★
“The uniformly terrific cast exert themselves to their limits”
The Stage | Read the full review

★★★★
“Assured, impassioned performances… raw and vivid”
The Scotsman | Read the full review

“Terrific piece from the Young Vic Taking Part department”
The Guardian | Read more

Start Swimming is now sold out but you can contact Summerhall about returns. Created in response to Why it’s Kicking Off Everywhere, Start Swimming is the latest Young Vic Taking Part Parallel Production. Learn more about what Taking Part do.