Marie Cooper performing as the ‘The Spirit of the Place’ in promenade street theatre with the Jenny Lind Arts Project and Slow Theatre Company, 2018
Slow Theatre Company, Norwich
8 – 9 June 2018
From Workshop to Playwriting
It all escalated quite fast. One evening I turned up for a free scriptwriting workshop being run by the Jenny Lind Arts Project and Danny O’Hara with the Slow Theatre Company. I thought it would be a great help to learn some new creative writing techniques and generate some ideas to kickstart my creative coursework.
It turned out that writers could submit a piece of their work to be part of the project’s performance in June 2018. The next thing I knew, my “Abandoned Places” script, with Megan and Josh, was included as part of the theatrical promenade piece. I performed as Saha, the ‘Spirit of the Place’ too. It felt odd, but exhilarating, seeing the words that I had written being performed. I had put my toes tentatively onto the edge of the path to becoming a playwright.
It was an immensely ambitious and unique piece of community theatre, a promenade piece composed entirely of local writer’s work which was then beautifully sewn together with the words of playwright Danusia Iwaszko, who created the Spirit of the Place as a guide, leading the audience around the stage, following the walkways, green areas and stairwells that make up the community space. There were many people working incredibly hard to bring the show together, both performing and behind the scenes,. It would not have been the same if even just one person had not been there.
I grew up, an artistic child, in an area of Norwich that was in the top 10% of the most deprived areas of the country. For poor families, this meant that opportunities to get involved in the arts were next to zero outside of the school curriculum. So, the opening up of provision of the arts for everyone, no matter what their background or income, is something very close to my heart. The work that the Jenny Lind Project does, bringing the arts into local communities is invaluable.
And I Saw my World From my Home
The short film, ‘And I saw my world from my Home’, is a collaboration between the Jenny Lind Arts Project, BBC Voices and the Suffolk Square community. The footage is composed of clips that we filmed around the area. The poetry and readings are by the local community. The poem I am reading between 2:09 and 2:58 is by writer and poet, Salah El Nagar. Other contributors to the movie include Cate Oliver and me.
It was a privilege to be part of the project. I have some wonderful new people in my life. People who I might never have even met if I’d not gone along to a little community scriptwriting workshop a few months ago. My life has been enriched for taking part. I hope the community feels the positive effects of the project long into the future.Wall of Feedback for Spirit of the Place