Since June 2017, Wyldwood Arts has been working with Travelling Light Youth Theatre to create a performance based on Barton Hill and all those who love it. Hillstories, our new intergenerational project, has seen the Youth Theatre (aged 11-19 yrs) get stuck in to the local area, meeting with older adults from whom we have learnt so much!
The Hillstories project began with us taking a steering group from the Youth Theatre to the local bingo. Having never played bingo before, most of the team (including myself) were initially nervous about entering a bingo hall, but we were met with warm smiles and welcoming conversations. All those from Wyldwood Arts and Travelling Light Youth Theatre fell in love with this social activity, getting to know those who play bingo well and feeling part of this community more and more each week.
We then invited the people we had met at the bingo to a social event named Super Sunday Social Gathering. The Youth Theatre worked hard to make cakes and mocktails for this afternoon of games, stories and a Bake-Off style cake competition!
Since this social gathering, we have been joined by older adults from the bingo, who have come along to the Travelling Light Youth Theatre sessions to share their stories about Barton Hill. Throughout July, the Youth Theatre room was filled with older and younger generations sharing experiences and thoughts. Writer Adam Peck used these stories and experiences to create a script representing the residents of BS5.
Aaron Parsons (Director of the Hillstories performance) and the young actors from the Youth Theatre worked hard all through the summer school week in August to create a performance to be proud of. The week was also filled up with community visits. Wyldwood Arts took the Youth Theatre to local activities, such as Knit and Natter at the Wellspring centre and a Barton Hill Walking Tour, so that the group could learn more about this wonderful community and share the work they were creating with the local residents.
For me, our visit to Knit and Natter was one of the most memorable moments from this whole process. It really revealed the way we had formed a connection to this community, and through being taught how to make little wonders from balls of wool, we not only learnt how to make some very snazzy pompoms (if I do say so myself!), but learnt more about the people we were working with, and more about the community that matters to them, their values and their experiences. These exchanges of skill, stories and thoughts are fundamental to making a meaningful and enjoyable piece of performance that impacts a larger group of local people, of many generations.
A scratch performance of Hillstories was shown at RedFest and delighted its audiences. We are very excited to see what is to come in October! Keep an eye out for Hillstories at Barton Hill Festival.
Written by Emer Clark, Assistant Producer
Photo credits: Camilla Adams