★★★★“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. 

 

Taking Part in 2017

It’s been a busy first half of the year for Young Vic Taking Part –  they’ve produced 7 shows, held workshops and courses for Young People and communities for people who live, work or study in Lambeth and Southwark and celebrated the 1st anniversary of Neighbourhood Theatre. Find out more below…  

See Me Now

A two year long project, the first version of See Me Now was originally performed as part of The Brolly Project in August 2015, a Young Vic Taking Part project. The team worked closely with outreach projects across London to find a company of participants who have, or do work in the sex industry. The performance, created in collaboration with the company, saw them sharing their painful, touching and often hilarious stories from their work and personal lives. The culmination of this was See Me Now which was performed for a three week run in February in the YV’s Maria. See what audiences had to say about TP’s production on our Storify.

(10) See Me Now at the Young Vic. Photo © Matt Humphrey

See Me Now at the Young Vic. Photo by Matt Humphrey

Go Between

Go Between was a Taking Part community show inspired by Isango Ensemble’s A Man of Good Hope. A beautiful collaboration between director Anna Girvan, writer Archie Maddocks and participants who were homeless or had experienced homelessness in the past, it explored what home means to all of us. Go Between ran in the Maria in January. You can find out more about the rehearsal process and see portraits of our participants in our blog post.

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Go Between at the Young Vic. Photo by Jordan Lee

Fable

Fable is our schools and colleges’ response to Isango Ensemble’s A Man of Good Hope. Directed by Maddeleine Kludje and written by Luke Barnes, Fable is a three-part film performed by three groups of children and teenagers in London, Brooklyn and Cape Town.

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The filming of Fable Part 1. Photo by Leon Puplett

Start Swimming

The most recent Taking Part Parallel Productions, Start Swimming was written by Jamez Fritz in response to the Young Vic’s Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere, a show about occupation, revolution and the future of our youth. Directed by Ola Ince and performed by a cast of 11 young Londoners, Start Swimming was performed in the Clare at the Young Vic in April and continues at the Edinburgh Fringe this summer.

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Start Swimming at the Young Vic. Photo by Helen Murray

And Yet It Moves

Written by Molly Taylor and the company in response to the themes of Life of Galileo, And Yet It Moves was directed by Joseph HancockFocusing on Brexit they interviewed people who voted both leave and remain, as well as prominent MPs from across the campaign, and ran workshops with members of Two Boroughs’ Neighbourhood Theatre. The end result was a piece that addressed the questions of what country you want to live in and how hopeful you are of the future.

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And Yet It Moves at the Young Vic. Photo by Leon Puplett

PRU Project

Laura Keefe directed a week-long project with school children at Kennington Park Academy’s pupil referral unit in the Clare in May. A response to Life of Galileo, the workshops featured some dazzling personalised projections by SDNA featuring all of the children involved. Teachers and parents were invited to a small sharing at the end of the week bringing all of their work together.

The Space Between

The Space Between was Taking Part’s annual production for audiences with special educational needs and disabilities. Aimed at children under 12, The Space Between was particularly tailored for those on the Autistic Spectrum. It told the tale of a young girl determined to run away, but who forms a caring relationship with The Creature. The show was written, directed and with a beautiful puppet created by Brunskill & Grimes.

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The Space Between at the Young Vic. Photo by Leon Puplett


Intro to Directing & Intro to Design

Run yearly, these are week long courses that give 18 – 25 year-olds the opportunity to find out more about theatre directing and design. The introductory courses included practical workshops led by professional theatre directors and designers included practical sessions, backstage theatre tours and trips to see various productions at theatres across London.

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Other workshops and talks run by Taking Part this year have included Preparing for Drama School AuditionsVocal Coaching, Off Stage and Schools Workshops. 

Only Young Events

Taking Part have run several Only Young networking events this year. These are evenings held at the Young Vic specifically for young actors, directors, writers, designers, producers and technicians to meet with other creatives. Only Young has been held predominantly for young people aged 18 -25, Taking Part had a great time bringing 14 – 18 year olds together for the first time at this event earlier this summer.

 

Backstage Pass

Nine young Londoners spent two weeks at the Young Vic learning the skills and secrets of stagecraft, as part of Taking Part’s Backstage Pass programme, culminating in a performance of an extract of a play, professionally directed and acted, which the participants plotted, built, designed and called.

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Backstage pass participants learning rigging from the production department. Photo by Leon Puplett

 

Neighbourhood Theatre

Neighbourhood Theatre started in June 2016 and celebrated it’s 1st Birthday this year. Eighty neighbours officially became members of the new Young Vic company of local people. This company is at the heart of our work. They are ambassadors, creators, friends and supporters. Neighbourhood Theatre comes together to attend our shows enjoy Kitchen Conversations and Theatre Clubs.

Find out more about Young Vic Taking Part and how you can get involved.

Two weeks exploring technical theatre with YV Taking Part’s Backstage Pass

This month we’ve been delighted to have 9 young Londoners at the Young Vic learning the skills and secrets of stagecraft, as part of Taking Part’s Backstage Pass programme. Find out what they got up to below. 

Backstage Pass is a free course at the Young Vic where for two weeks we invite young Londoners to take part in exploring all aspects of technical theatre. The group spends time with the YV’s immense production team having workshops in Stage Management, Lighting, Stage, Sound, Costume and Construction. These workshops culminate in a performance of an extract of a play, professionally directed and acted, which the participants have plotted, built, designed and called.  To get a full production experience, they also stay for the ‘get-out’ immediately afterwards.

As well as their time at the Young Vic, the group went on tours and trips to other London theatres – having tours and/or seeing shows in the West End, Southwark Playhouse, National Theatre, Gate, Almeida and the Roundhouse. Our thanks to the staff at these theatres for being so generous with their time!

Daniel Harrison, who coordinated the project, said “It was really great to see the group work together, as the intricacies of their chosen area of technical theatre were interwoven to create the final piece. Lighting chatted with sound over the various cues, stage management with costume over the props used. Technical theatre does not work in silo, and the group soon learnt this, as well as discovering interests and skills that they had previously not known about. Ahmed said being Stage Manager made him ‘feel like an authority figure’ and Abdul on sound told me that he’d picked up tips to use on his own grime tracks!”

Leo Wringer and Nadia Albina in Backstage Pass’ excerpt of by Alistair McDowall, directed by Finn den Hertog. Photo by Beanie Ridler 

The Backstage Pass programme gives young Londoners an understanding of and foot-in to the professional theatre scene, not just at the Young Vic, but at venues across the capital. Not only is the course free (as are all the theatre tickets), but a travel and lunch bursary are provided to ensure that those on the course have no barrier in participating.

Backstage Pass has now finished, but will be back next year. Londoners aged 18-24 are eligible to apply. For more information please email danielharrison@youngvic.org.

Behind See Me Now – Interview with Imogen Brodie and Kirsten Adam

A version of See Me Now was originally performed as part of The Brolly Project in August 2015, a Young Vic Taking Part project. The team worked closely with outreach projects across London to find a company of participants who have, or do work in the sex industry. The aim was to make an original performance created by the company, formed by whatever they chose to share.  The project has been developed over the last 2 years, and is now playing as See Me Now in the YV Maria.

Imogen Brodie , Director of Taking Part, and Kirsten Adam, Two Boroughs & Directors Program Project Manager, talk about the process behind the project below.

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Governess Elizabeth in See Me Now –  Photography by Matt Humphrey

How did the concept for See Me Now come about?

Imogen Brodie (IB): The first thing was that we had been thinking about how to do a project alongside Measure for Measure which was in the Main House a couple of years ago. We did a project with Look Left Look Right at the Maudsley (Hospital), and it came about from conversations we’d had about wanting to make a show with sex workers. And the fact that the representation of sex workers in Measure for Measure, well it’s Shakespearean, so it’s really old and abusive, and quite comical.

Kirsten Adam (KA): And sex workers don’t have a voice in it at all. They’re an integral part of the story but they don’t have a voice, so it was an interesting way to flip that and give them a voice.

See Me Now and Now We Are Here have both been TP community/parallel shows that have been opened up to the public, Why do you think it’s important to share these stories?

IB: I think with both of those plays they’re very marginalised groups of people, that everybody feels they have knowledge of. Particularly with sex workers, and more recently with refugees, people think they know what the story is, but really the stories are much more broad, and rich, and individual.

KA: Sex workers are depicted a lot in fiction, in films and TV and things, but very seldom are those stories developed from real experience, or they’re developed from one experience. One thing we were really keen with for See Me Now in the first place was to go there is not one story, there is not one ‘this is what the life of a sex worker is’, but to look at the range of experiences and opinions.

IB: And also remembering people who are part of a group are just people. They happen to be a refugee or a sex worker but they’re just people with all of the same concerns as people who don’t fall into those categories. We wanted to show that as well, that is was about the humanity of people who happen to work in the sex industry. That we have all of the same life issues like paying bills and sorting out their tax.

KA: A lot of See Me Now is about work that’s actually not specific to sex work. It’s about what it’s like to earn a wage, and a lot of it’s about life. As we went through the process a lot of the stuff that was interesting and that we found most revealing, wasn’t about sex work, it was about people as human beings.

IB: I think we also found out that the group felt there were kind of two stories, it was either Happy Hooker or Trafficked Victim. And that the majority of them didn’t fall into either of those categories and wanted to say that there’s more to it than that. That actually it’s a profession that will be around forever and ever but that you can’t say you’re a sex worker as a valid life choice. That you still have to keep it hidden and a secret, we wanted to expose that.  Also the group are very keen to decriminalise, that’s the only unifying thought amongst them. Like any group they have lots of different opinions, but that one thing about safety and decriminalisation is really important to communicate as well.

How did you go about finding the participants for this kind of project?

KA: We worked with a lot of partner organisations such as SWISH and the Terrance Higgins Trust, Ugly Mugs, Praed Street Project, and we worked with a woman called Emily Elgar who had been an outreach worker at SWISH. So we did lots of work going to sexual health clinics, or support services. Meeting people in those places, so that we were coming to them rather than expecting them to come to us straight away. There was quite a lot of interviewing people in those places, especially the more vulnerable or street based sex workers, who are not living lives where they can come in and do a workshop every Saturday. Imogen went to an outreach service.

IB: It’s this really brilliant service called Open Doors and they particularly look after street sex workers. From 10 o’clock in the evening till 3 o’clock in the morning they drive the streets of Hackney, and they know everyone, so they stop at everyone who’s working and give out condoms, Kit Kats and tea – just things that will keep everyone going. That service has now been cut, the funding has been cut for it, and so has another amazing service called Praed  Street Project, their funding has been cut and also some of SWISH.  It’s one of the hidden things that have happened over the last couple of years, since the Tories have got their claws in, those services are disappearing really fast.

KA: There’s a lot of amalgamating those services with services for those who were trafficked or with alcohol and drug dependencies. And there is a lot of cross over but being a sex worker doesn’t mean you are a drug addict or trafficked. You can be a sex worker and still need the support that those services offered. But it’s just a way to balance the budget really rather than to do what’s best by the people.

IB: Emily was brilliant because she’d done that job herself of supporting people. She already had a level of trust in those services. So it meant that our way into that was based on good faith.

KA: We had quite a gentle beginning. The first thing we did was have a tea party for the people that might be interested, that was back in April 2015, that was a chance for them to meet us, Mimi and Molly and find out what it might be like. Because for anyone, this is not specific to sex workers, anyone who hasn’t worked in theatre before ‘come and do a workshop’ doesn’t mean anything.  What’s a workshop? So we did that and had nice baked goods and then we started the series of workshops.

IB: I don’t think we talked about sex work for about 3 months. Everyone knew that’s why we were together but the stuff we did was much more about getting to know each other, working out what people were interested in in terms of writing, performing or what things they wanted to share with the group. The first version of this show, when it was Brolly Project, had much less about sex work in it than See Me Now does because I think that was the last thing that came out. So all of those relationships were made before the sex work questions happened.

KA: I think a lot of the sex work stuff when it did come up was a lot of us just talking. We did an exercise about ‘What were health and safety instructions for your workplace?’. So that was about the sex industry being their workplace, but it wasn’t about going ‘So tell me about…’. We met someone early on who said the first thing people always asked her was how much she charged. And she said ‘Would you ever ask someone how much they earn the first time you meet them?’. It’s just so rude.  So I think we wanted to get know people and actually see what the show could be coming out of that. It could have been that the first version had nothing about sex work in it. If that’s what they’d wanted to say, that’s what we would have played.

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Peter and company in See Me Now –  Photography by Matt Humphrey

You’d talked about trust and relationships, how did you build those?

IB: It’s about being interested in other people. Making sure that when they come here, the experience they have is comfortable and friendly. That you’ve got all the things that make you feel welcome: food and drink, and an atmosphere that feels like we’re all in one thing together. The breaking down of the hierarchy in that room was really important. Because one group of people in there have a certain experience and another group of people in there have a completely different one. Sharing experiences that we do have in common was really important; being children, being parents, being partners, being all of the things that are unifying. It was a very open space. We did a lot of work particularly with this group about anonymity and about us not sharing it outside the room. I think that made a big difference. I think we just got on very well, it was about it being fun and not asking people to relive trauma. Sometimes that happens, because that’s what people want to talk about but that wasn’t our driving force.

KA:  We did a lot of other stuff around the workshops. Going to see shows here, going to see shows other places, and just keeping people involved in what we were doing. Especially after the Brolly Project had been on, that was on in August 2015 so there’s quite a big gap between then and now. So we’ve all worked really hard to keep in touch.  That might be just having a cup of tea with people or chatting on the phone or walking the dog in Battersea Park.

IB: It’s about being aware if you want people to carry on working with you that you have a responsibility to them. We don’t feel like we’re giving anything to them, we’re in a dialogue and it’s a two way relationship. We’ve done loads of fun things together and I think that really builds a foundation. We went to Latitude together, to do a really early version of Brolly and we went to HighTide last year. It’s about the consistent friendship, which obviously has some boundaries but is very generous on both sides. I think because they’re naturally such a generous group of people it was really easy for us to do that. But certainly needed to be consistent; doing little gatherings, making sure that when they came to the theatre they were always invited together so that it was easy to keep in touch with each other.

KA: And we’ll continue you do that after the show as well. You have such a downer after a show finishes anyway, and I imagine a lot of them will just go back to whatever they were doing before, so you want to feel like it has a legacy rather than just going ‘Thanks guys, see you later’.

IB: Also we started the development for See Me Now really early on. We’ve been working workshops and development sessions since July last year, and since then we’ve met most Saturdays.

And is that a different process to other TP projects?

KA: Not really. Just over a longer period of time, because we’ve had the two incarnations.

IB: But the form and the structure’s the same. I think we really hit a rich vein of storytelling with this group of people. Because of the work they have done, they’re very open minded and good at socialising. They have to be good at making other people feel comfortable, that’s part of the job that they either have done or still do.

KA: And they’ve all been very naturally good performers, which is not that surprising really. When you think about working to make someone else feel comfortable, that’s kind of what they’re doing with an audience.

IB: So it has almost been an easier process.

Is there anything else you want to say about the project?

KA: It’s been really jokes.

IB: Really hilarious, full scale hilarious, the whole way through. So resilient and so fun. Super smart. Anyone who’s had to navigate the sort of experiences they have has to be proper savvy.  They’re all really interesting on a really deep level as people, so it’s just been fascinating and I feel really privileged to have worked on it. It’s been such an incredible experience and we’ve learnt so much about sex and sexuality.

KA: And the span of people’s sexuality. It does make you reassess your own prejudices  – about the clients I would say more than the workers. Even a lot of people who are very open minded about sex workers, still go ‘Oooh clients = bad’.  But actually, they’re so generous about their clients and honest – there are awful people but also people that they are building a relationship with.

IB: It’s shifted all that understanding and that’s what I hope it does for people who watch it. Shifts the understanding of sex, sexuality, relationships and people.

See Me Now  runs 11 Feb – 4 Mar in the Young Vic’s Maria. Tickets for this production are all sold out but you are welcome to join our returns queues from an hour before each performance. Find more information on See Me Now here

 

Go Between | Taking Part

Go Between was a Taking Part community show inspired by Isango Ensemble’s A Man of Good Hope. The beautiful collaboration between director Anna Girvan, writer Archie Maddocks and participants who are currently homeless or have experienced homelessness in the past explored what home means to all of us.

The show was inspired by the 30 members of the “creative, passionate, witty and optimistic” company and their own experiences, drawn together through workshops and sessions over 4 months, since September 2016.

Go Between also featured a photography exhibition by Jordan Lee, a photographer who spent 3 months with the company documenting the process from devising and rehearsals to the full production. The stunning exhibition was open to all at Platform Southwark and was visited by audiences and participants alike.

Anna said, “We hope that this production will give an insight to how we are all just people, people who want to love, live, experience life, shout, stomp, sit in silence, be challenged and listened to, respected and deserve that basic human right; a home.”

Intro to Theatre | Young Vic Taking Part

Our Taking Part team welcomed over 200 new young people over October half-term with a series of Intro to Theatre workshops led by some great friends of the Young Vic.

Talks and workshops with Simon Stephens, Kayode Ewumi and Tyrell Williams, Thalissa Teixeira, Ashley Walters, Jemima Robinson, Toby Clarke, Shanika Warren-Markland, Arnold Oceng and Gbolahan Obisesan, gave a mix of 14-25 year olds a first look at careers in playwriting, acting, design, helped with audition techniques and held talks.

We also held a panel discussion with the heads of acting from RADA, LAMDA, Mountview, LIPA, East 15, Rose Bruford, Central, Drama Centre and the RCS on the process and future of applying to drama schools attended by 60 young people from Lambeth and Southwark.

To find out more about the Young Vic’s opportunities for young people head to youngvic.org and follow Taking Part on twitter.

‘People need to know the stories of those who to everyone here are invisible’

Michael, YV TP LGBT Refugee Workshop Portrait

Michael, a participant in the Now We Are Here workshops.

I like the theatre. It’s something I know communicates something to everyone. I got involved in the Young Vic through another group. I went to a session, and they asked lots of questions. They asked me to write a letter as if I was writing to my best friend about my life. I haven’t seen my best friend in such a long time, the experience of writing that moved me. Then they asked me who my favourite person was. I said my grandmother. They asked me how I would describe her in one word, I said “flower”. They asked me how she would describe me in one word, I said “clown”. And then they asked me who she is to me, I said “shield”.

Then we started talking about our stories. The some people who gave their stories wanted to talk about their home country. Like Jamaica. Everyone here thinks Jamaica is a happy place, lots of reggae, lots of sunshine. They don’t know the reality of what it’s like to live there if you aren’t like everyone else. One person wanted to talk about his cancer. His cancer, and the vulnerability it gave him made him safer in the eyes of the social services. The cancer that was harming him was his protection, his proof that he was a victim and his guarantee that he could stay. He doesn’t want his cancer to go, because that means that he himself might have to go too.

But I wanted to talk about what life is like here. I don’t want to tell the story of how I got here. People always ask me about my journey but they don’t realise that my journey is still going on living here. People need to know the stories of those who to everyone here are invisible. What I want to do is to communicate that pain is not limited to being a refugee or an asylum seeker. Pain is universal, pain doesn’t discriminate. Pain is something that we all feel. Sometimes it’s like people don’t understand the every-day reality of what it’s like feeling lost.

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The cast of Now We Are Here. Photo by Helen Murray.

They treated us so well at the Young Vic. They gave us a lot of purpose, food to eat and friendship. I am still in touch with the people who we did the production with. I made sure that the money that was raised went to the charities that have helped us, like Room to Heal. An outcome that I am very proud of is the creation of the Cotton Tree Trust. An audience member with an amount of money they had saved for thirty years was so moved by the play that he has started to think of creating a trust to practically help refugees and asylum seekers like me. Theatre can keep creating this compassion, and I am grateful to have been apart of this project.

This blog post was originally featured by Room To Heal, a charity which supports refugees and Asylum Seekers in the UK. Their blog can be found here. This post was written by Michael, a participant in the workshops that led to the production of Now We Are Here which ran at the Young Vic in July 2016.