Live Theatre is committed to delivering work within some of the most hard to reach areas of Newcastle and Gateshead. A series of extremely successful projects have been delivered with young people in towns/boroughs such as Cowgate, Blakelaw and Lemington that explored their thoughts, views and opinions within the context of their neighbourhood. Much of this work is delivered in partnership with Newcastle City Council Arts Team.
Testimonies Project, South Africa
The Testimonies Project, South Africa is development of recent verbatim work at Live Theatre, including From Home To Newcastle (2008) and Here Come The Girls (2009).
The initial stages of this project were undertaken in January 2011 in South Africa by Amy Golding (Drama Worker from Live Theatre's Education & Participation Team) and Gez Casey (Literary Manager at Live Theatre) along with South African colleagues Zamuxolo Mgoduka (co-director) and Ziphozakhe Hlobo (co-writer).
Amy explains: “Our Eastern Cape adventure began in Port Elizabeth where we joined our South African colleagues to begin what became one of the most heart-felt and emotional experiences I have ever had. The journey took the team on a 2500 kilometer journey through Graaff-Reinet, Queenstown, Dordrecht, Matatiele and then on to Umtata and Grahamstown before heading back to base in Port Elizabeth, where the hard work would really begin.
“A group of nine young women aged between 17 to 30 were selected from diverse backgrounds, including young women from urban and rural areas as well as from black, white and mixed heritage communities all over the Eastern Cape all with their own and very different stories.
“Their bitterly honest tales were told from the heart. They were full of both laughter and tears. Many of the women we spoke to have had to deal with such challenging situations, the women were absolute pillars of strength.”
Now back on Tyneside Amy and Gez, were joined by Ziphozakhe in January 2012 to begin the process of trawling through the recorded testimonies to create a piece of theatre Mamela centring round the young women’s personal stories, opinions, hopes, fears and dreams that will explore what life is like as a young woman in the new South Africa and the universal experience of growing up. The testimonies will seek to discover commonalities and help challenge misconceptions and attitudes that currently exist between communities.
Gez continued: “We will head back to South Africa in 2012 to rehearse the final piece with the young women involved to create an engaging piece of theatre. As one of the nine girls chosen to tell her story, Nandi, said this project, for her is for “all the women who don’t have the opportunity to speak.
“The discussions that took place between the young women were remarkable. They were incredibly open and honest with us, and supportive of each other. It helped to re-enforce the idea that there are many voices that are not heard and deserve to be.”
The play will be performed at the Grahamstown Festival (South Africa) in June 2012 and the aim is to bring this group to the North East to perform the final production for audiences at Live Theatre.
One of the key outcomes of the project is to connect the young women who took part in Here Come the Girls on Tyneside with their South African counterparts so that they can share their stories both digitally and live on stage. With introductions already made via an initial Skype chat the scene is set for another fantastic partnership between the Swallow Partnership, Uphondo Lwe Afrika and Live Theatre.
Lost in the Game 2012
In 2010, Live Theatre challenged thirty nine young people between the age of 14 and 18 years old from across Tyneside to create a 10 minute film from scratch. The end result is Lost in the Game the story of 16 year old Asamoah as he tries to get used to life being fostered by a family in Newcastle.
Mentored by award-winning filmmaker Michelle Fox the cast and crew spent eight months learning the skills involved in transforming a script into a film. Responsible for every element of the film's creation the young people tried their hands at becoming script writers, casting agents, directors, cameramen, lighting designers, sound engineers, editors and even caterers. Alongside this film a fly on the wall documentary was created to capture the process involved in bringing the script to life.
Lost in the Game is the third in a series of projects which has seen Live’s Youth Theatre collaborating with young refugees and asylum seeker groups across Newcastle.
The aim of the project was to help bridge gaps between different young people across Tyne and Wear and the final film is a true collaboration and reflection of the groups’ different personalities and cultures.
This end result is a fantastic film and documentary.
Lost in the Game is a partnership project between Live Theatre, South Tyneside College and Kamasi (a group setup to help ‘unaccompanied minors’ these are young adults under the age of 18 who arrive in the country without a guardian), and was made possible with funding from Media Box, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and The Baring Foundation.
Here Come The Girls 2009
Using the same format as From Home to Newcastle (see below for more information), 8 young women between the ages of 13 and 24 from countries such as New Guinea and Indonesia as well as Tyneside share their stories about what life is like being a young woman living in the 21st century.
Here Come the Girls is part of an extensive programme of work that Live Theatre is carrying out with young refugees and asylum seekers. As Amy Golding, one of Live Theatre’s resident drama workers and director of Here Come The Girls explains:
“Working with such an interesting and inspiring group of girls has made the process of creating Here Come the Girls fantastic. They are all so different, have experienced such different things and have generously shared their stories, learned about each other’s cultures, made each other laugh and surprised each other.
“Creating the piece has been a long process; all the girls were interviewed and took part in group sessions where their stories were collated and recorded. This information was then transcribed, and given to two local writer’s Carol McGuigan and Beth Coverdale who worked to edit the final piece before going into rehearsals.
”This has definitely been one of the most challenging and stimulating pieces of theatre I have directed and I’m excited about sharing the final piece with audiences of all ages and backgrounds.”
Here Come the Girls has been crafted by two female writers, a female director, a female designer, a female musician, and at the centre are the girls who talk about what’s important to them including their ambitions for the future as well as what clothes they like to wear and how best to have their fringes.
From Home to Newcastle 2008
This project provided a unique opportunity for young people from refugee and asylum seeker communities across Newcastle to acquire theatre skills in a safe environment and to encourage them to integrate into Live’s Youth Theatre.
Participants from existing refugee and asylum seeker groups were invited to attend 10 weekly drama sessions, developing basic skills in group work, improvisation and character development. The project culminated in performances on the main stage at Live Theatre of From Home to Newcastle – a testimony piece where young people shared their stories and experiences of life growing up in places as diverse as Angola, Iran, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and Tyneside. This final piece was also performed in Liverpool as part of the City of Culture 2008 celebrations.
This work was carried out in partnership with the North East Refugee Service, as well as other refugee and asylum seeker centres in the region and was made possible with funding from the Arts Council’s Young People’s Participatory Theatre Project fund.
“...I’m not shy anymore... We achieved something... No one was being daft... People came and watched us twice because it was that good...”.
Participants of Cushty Cowgate
"I've never seen the place with such a buzz … it’s been the best thing for young people that the place has ever seen”.
Staff member, Cowgate Neighbourhood Centre