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  • The Pentabus Experience

     

    “You’ve turned up in our busiest week EVER at Pentabus” – the words that I hear within minutes of entering the Pentabus building. This doesn't dawn on me straight away until suddenly I'm logged onto a computer and straight away editing the Young Writers Festival programme. This is followed by making 'opening night cards' and sorting tickets for this weeks showing of plays. "Van unload!" - a rush of props pass through the building: beanbags, plants and a taxidermy fox- umm okay?! 

    Inevitably I had lots of questions to ask and the wonderful team answer every question I throw at them with interest and enthusiasm for their job. Rachael, Crayg and Elizabeth were all brilliant at making me feel comfortable in the company. I have complete admiration for what they do, without their complete commitment to this unique company, there would be nothing to 'woop' about rural areas and theatre.

    Tea count: 5 mugs.

    The second location for this week was the Charlton Arms. Here I had the chance to watch tech run throughs of various shows. I guess you always assume that the hard work comes from the actors, but there are also all those people working behind the scenes: directors, sound, lighting, writers, managers, producers. After only a minute of watching rehearsals I have taken into account the amount of people there are involved in putting on a performance. I don't need to take notes, I don't need to ask questions. I just soak it all in. 

    Tea count: 12 mugs.

    So I'd seen the leaflets, read the brochures and made the programmes. Are there really talented young writers in Shropshire? Of course! I was fortunate enough to see 4 plays this week, from the dreamers, to reality, comedy and prejudices. Each play pulled on different parts of my life. A particularly relatable part of the play VULTURES was a market stall. For me as a youth of Ludlow I will find myself playing around the market with mates on summer evenings and yes you always get that certain look from an individual that says, 'isn't there anything better you could be doing with your time?' In my head I respond with 'actually have you looked at any work young people do recently?' -Young Writers celebrated the next next generation and the talent they have to offer!

    Tea Count: 17 mugs.

    The Young Writers work and Pentabus as a company generally has shown me that rural theatre is an open space to explore and make into your own by drawing on your own experiences and developing them into a form of art that many people can interpret and relate with. Over the last few days I have been inspired to start writing myself and I may even be brave enough to join the Young Writers Group.

    Tea count: 24 mugs.

    Truthfully though, I couldn't have asked for much more from a work experience placement. I have left with a wider understanding of the industry and a new mature view on working life.

    Thank You Pentabus! You Rock!

    Ella Stanton-Warren

     

     

     

     

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  • Writing the Rural

     

    Elizabeth Freestone: We’re about to produce a theatre marathon. Eight new plays written by eight new writers. Four directors working on two plays each. An ensemble cast of ten actors. Three designers, two stage managers, numerous volunteers. Rehearsals are underway. The fridge is stocked with milk and the biscuit tin is overflowing. Someone’s even bringing their dog.

    Two things are unusual about all this. One is that we’re a small theatre company with just three permanent members of staff. We normally produce two or three plays a year, so to do eight in one go (as well as our three other productions) is pretty epic. The second is that these eight plays are written by playwrights aged between 16 and 25.

    Last summer I did free playwriting workshops in schools and colleges all over Shropshire. I met over 100 potential young writers. From these we put together a core group of eight who became the company’s first ever Young Writers Group. Since then, they’ve met regularly and had workshops with Simon Longman, our playwright in residence, as well as working with actors, directors and guest tutors such as Phil Porter and Francesca Millican-Slater. During this time they’ve also been writing their own plays.  I’ll be honest – we didn’t expect to put them all on. We thought there might be one or two that would be good. We thought a couple of writers might not deliver. We thought we might do a weekend of readings, perhaps produce a short piece or two and that would be that.But as we got to know the writers it became clear that not only could they construct a scene pretty well, they also had a lot to say about the world. We realised they were all going to write something and that that something was going to be important. So whatever we did at the end couldn’t be a soft offer without a culminating moment. The writers were willing to take the risk. The plays demanded an audience. So it was up to us to match the commitment.

    These writers are an unheard generation. Growing up in a largely rural county. Lacking access and opportunities. Frustrated by poor transport and sluggish broadband. Watching major cultural events from afar. Bombarded with urban iconography. Not seeing their lives represented on screen, in music or on stage. Broke. They’re also witty and intelligent. Comfortable with big skies and big thoughts. Mature and unselfconscious. Easy with meaningful friendships built on profound solidarity. Straightforwardly funny, untroubled by self-censoring irony. With big imaginations and playful instincts. Strong in their skins. Unafraid of the night. Self-reliant.

    So they’ve come out fighting. Their plays are bold, funny, strange, sad. Their writing is about friendship, fuel poverty, love, unemployment. They examine what happens in small towns when one friend escapes to university and one stays behind. They write about what’s it’s like to declare your sexuality when you live in a small community. They are honest about what you resort to when you can’t find a job. They tackle the huge problem of drugs in rural towns and talk about ways of escape. They acknowledge beauty in all its forms. They confess what they dream of and how they might make it happen.

    In doing this they are unwittingly continuing a proud tradition of radical ruralism, built on the foundations of the Peasants Revolt, the Diggers, the Reformers. They are instinctively political because they grew up in an environment which naturally positions them as outsiders. They are underdogs, separated from the city elite whose decision making influences their lives. But they are also emboldened by a sea change happening in the creative world, where all kinds of artists are realising that making work outside of urban centres is creatively liberating. The countryside is fascinating, troubled, unpredictable, inspiring. Urbanism (whisper it) is proving to be a cultural dead end, a repeated aesthetic, a peer group talking only to itself. Bands recording on farms, writers on retreat, rural touring all over the county, visual artists making large scale earthworks – there is a vibrant and growing rural arts scene built on genuine ingenuity and experimentation with form. Most excitingly, the work is made for real audiences – sophisticated, politically aware, living the recession in a way that urban audiences are protected from it – who are hungry for more. Shropshire really is more interesting than Shoreditch.

    Our young writers – Rory Boar, Jade Edwards, Jack Purkis, David Scotswood, Cara Squires, Nat Vaughan, Tom Wentworth and Michael Wild – represent the daring new voice of dissent coming from the countryside. They are proud of where they’re from, un-blinkered about its problems. They look at images of the rural world in the mass media and they don’t recognise what they see – The Archers, Emmerdale, the Chipping Norton set, Escape to the Country.That’s not the world they know; it’s what cities have imagined for them. They see beauty alongside isolation, green alongside pollution, space alongside poverty. So they’ve seized the opportunity to write the truth, to give their experiences cultural worth.

    Tom Wentworth: The countryside can get forgotten when it comes to the arts. Rural towns and villages lose out to cities. Opportunities in rural areas for young people to explore the world around them can be severely lacking. This is why Pentabus’s Young Writers’ group has been such an innovation. Elizabeth Freestone invited us to come to Bromfield (just outside Ludlow in Shropshire where Pentabus is based on a farm) and spend two hours every three weeks talking about writing, whilst receiving workshops from tutor Simon Longman and various guests too. This would culminate in writing a full length play. It wasn’t an opportunity I was going to turn down.

    Growing up in Shropshire I was aware of the impact that Pentabus’ work has on its audiences; I knew they were a company who were willing to take risks. There was no brief other than to explore the things that really mattered to each of the writers. This has created a diverse and unusual set of pieces, ranging from comedy about not being able to find work, to an exploration of coming out at school. They are all different in style but are connected by their shared focus on contemporary rural society and what it means to be young in Britain today.

    I can’t quite believe that, as I write, that we’re coming to the end of the rehearsal period. It seems only five minutes since I first pitched my idea to Elizabeth. In the case of my play – Windy Old Fossils –  I knew that I wanted to write a play about what it was like to be elderly and isolated in the countryside. I also wanted to write about renewable energy – and try and make it funny at the same time.

    Elizabeth and Simon’s initial notes were slightly daunting. They felt that I was underselling the idea, and suggested I might take my comedy, with its cast of four, and turn into a two-hander with a darker edge. Now I had to take a risk of my own.  But I was delighted by the challenge and thrilled that they believed so much in two of my characters, brother and sister Ted and Lizzie. Two weeks later I handed in a completely new play, which is when Windy Old Fossils was really born. Further drafts followed, a few more tweaks, and then, Elizabeth came on board as my director and was able to bring her own thoughts, feelings and emotions to the piece. It has been an amazing process. The performers, Joanna Bacon and Ian Barritt, bring so much life – and humour – to Lizzie and Ted and they and Elizabeth continue to find new things in the play that surprise me.

    To my mind Pentabus is making great and significant strides in ensuring that rural audiences get access to work that shows their lives on stage, while also allowing artists from these areas the chance to make this work in a safe and creative environment.

    First Published on Exeunt Magazine 27 June 2014 - http://exeuntmagazine.com/features/writing-the-rural/

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  • Our Alternative Tour of Ludlow

    The Ludlow Fringe Festival starts this Saturday, marking culmination of the Young Writers Group at Pentabus HQ. We’ve all come a long way, eaten a lot of cake and have learned a lot from professional playwrights, directors and from each other. In his blog post ‘It’s Not Over Until The Curtain Falls’ Tom talked very eloquently about how much of a difference the chance of having our writing professionally produced has made to us along the way. Now, after almost a year of hard work, we’re seeing the dream realised and our words are making it off the page. Starting from this weekend our plays are to be showcased in front of real people who aren’t blood relatives. I’m proud, a bit nervous, and very excited for the upcoming festival.

    As well as our stage plays, each of us has written an audio play that was recorded in a London studio last week by actors. The preview is now online [link], and offers a glimpse at the scope and variety of stories that have come out. All eight stories are very different but they combine to make one interactive theatre tour: Stories from the Street. If you haven’t been to an audio play before, they’re a great, interactive way to experience theatre. Last year Pentabus produced In This Place which had the audience walking up the Stiperstones with headsets and two earfuls of memories of the Shropshire Hills. Having the stories spoken right into your ears is a strangely personal and direct way of being told a story – one that literally puts the listener in the centre of what happens.

    The Stories from the Street are discoverable with a map and a set of headphones. The stories are inspired by different locations that each of us has chosen and the route will take you through the town on an alternative sightseeing tour. Either alone or in a group, and at your own pace, you can hear about Ludlow’s criminal underworld, its stranger moments of history, and gossip from its inanimate objects.

    To take the Stories from the Street tour of Ludlow during the festival, pick up a headset from the Fringe Office on Castle Square. The tour runs from 9 – 5 every day between 14th June and the 6th of July.

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  • Every Brilliant Thing an audience hit

    Each night, we asked audiences in Ludlow, Worcester and Much Wenlock to share what they thought of the show with us. The responses and overall reception has truly blown us away. Here are some comments from the feedback forms:

    ‘Absolutely brilliant. I was so absorbed in the story. Would recommend to absolutely anyone – people who would normally go to the theatre and those who’d never.’

    ‘Enjoyed it very much. Good mix of humour and more serious side of depression whilst remaining thought provoking and not trivialising a serious issue.’

    ‘Excellent lead actor, moving, funny, wonderful music, original, highly enjoyable.’

    ‘Frank. Beautiful. Interactive. Engaging. Important subject and emotions to deal with.’

    ‘I absolutely loved it.  It was great to be involved and feel part of it.’

    ‘Very good. Emotional and funny at the same time. Thought provoking – I wish it was a bit longer!’

    ‘Never seen anything like it. Loved the involvement.’

    ‘I thought it was fantastic. Honest, real, funny, massively thought-provoking and moving. Quality.’

    Last stop on our rural tour: Jubilee Hall, Whaddon.

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and stories with us.

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  • Pentabus Archives - 40 years of theatre history

    We are thrilled to announce our Archive is now settling into its new home at the Shropshire Archives

    Following a grant of £2,000 from the Business Archives Council, we have been able to employ a professional archivist to work on the collection.  Sal quickly became one of the team working with us 1 day a week from our base in Bromfield.  After Sal’s initial survey we discovered we had a larger archive material collection than initially envisaged, including the past 40 years of shows, company archives, posters and original art work, music recordings, photographs, touring information, videos and DVD’s.  The majority of Sal’s time was therefore consumed with the actual physical archiving of the collection and completing the accession of the collection.  We were able to catalogue the whole collection to a detailed level, rather than just a summary collection as originally envisaged, which was a testament to the quality of Sal’s work in her assessment of the collection. 

    We also worked with some fabulous volunteers to digitise photographs, map our touring output and generally ensure all our records were up to date.  The archive catalogue will be made available on the Shropshire Archives online catalogue on the Discovering Shropshire’s History website (http://search.shropshirehistory.org.uk/ )  We very much enjoyed having the benefit of a professional archivist within the team to increase our own knowledge and skills.  Likewise, Sal is now very knowledgeable on the history of Pentabus and also attended our current theatre shows during her time with us, and has become a new theatre convert!

    You can read more about the project in our full report here

    Sal stated of her time with us:  “It’s been a delight working with Pentabus to help bring this fascinating collection to life.  The project will, I hope, not only ensure the long-term preservation of this unique record spanning 40 years of Pentabus, but also help to generate interest in its potential to throw new light on the development of the performing arts in this period.

    How you can help 

    We are still looking for further volunteers to help us add to the past productions section of our website, and the whole collection is just waiting for a University Student to use it as part of a research piece or dissertation project.  If you are interested, just get in touch!  info@pentabus.co.uk

     

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  • Young Writers Festival

    It's Not All Over Until The Curtain Falls - Tom Wentworth

    April 2014

    It seems five minutes since I was nervously arriving at Pentabus for the first time wondering what a new Young Writers’ Group would have in store. Cut to last week and we were all sitting round having our last session almost a year later. It’s been a great roller-coaster ride of workshops, talking about writing and exciting exercises designed to provoke responses (and terrify!) It may have been our last session but it’s far from over yet…

    The thing that a writer wants most, especially any emerging playwright, is to see their work actually performed. It’s a small thing but it makes all the difference. We’re all used to useful but seemingly never-ending weeks of Research and Development on a project or to finding that companies will commit to (again potentially useful) script in hand or staged readings of the work, only to find that for some reason your carefully crafted play never makes in front of an audience without you self-producing. But how can we possibly learn to hone our craft further without seeing the work performed?

    Well, thankfully that’s where Pentabus come in! This July, each member of the Young Writers’ Group will see their play performed in rep by a company of actors; get the chance to work with a director and design team who will bring our plays to life on stage. It’s a fiercely ambitious project – bringing 8 new plays to audiences in a pop-up theatre space over five days – but I couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of it!

    It’s certainly been an exciting process, through first and second drafts, receiving excellent notes from Pentabus’ Channel 4 Bursary Playwright Simon Longman and Artistic Director Elizabeth Freestone. Often notes can be clouded in mystery leaving you with more questions than answers but these were truthful, direct and retained a sense of freedom. Mine in particular were also fairly big, which resulted in a brutal but joyous rewrite – plus many cups of coffee and biscuits! However, Simon and Elizabeth gave me the freedom to write the play that perhaps I hadn’t dared commit to paper. It’s certainly not perfect but as I wait for the next set of notes I know that I can trust in the process and I’m looking forward to seeing it, alongside the other wonderful plays, on stage in July. (Plus a very exciting audio experience which runs throughout the whole of the Fringe Festival.)

    Pentabus has truly given us as writers the greatest gift – their support and trust in ourselves and our work. Alongside production, this is what a writer also needs; a company who believes in their voice and what they want to say. One of the great benefits of this Festival is putting a rural story in front of a local audience. Growing up in Shropshire I have been looking for a home for this idea for a long time. I am pleased to say that now it has found one.

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  • Channel 4 Bursary

    Starting my Channel 4 bursary - Simon Longman

    March 2014

    For me as a writer, having the support and opportunity to work with and write for Pentabus is a massive honour. The company's commitment to new and exciting work is really inspiring and to be part of that is very overwhelming. They push writers to be the best they can be, allowing them time and space to write and the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in their work. They've supported and helped me an unbelievable amount and I definitely would not be in the position I'm in without their faith in me.

    Being Pentabus' Channel 4 Writer in Residence is a huge privilege and and I'm so lucky to be working with the company and helping, in some way, to continue their amazing commitment to bring new, exciting and brave stories to rural communities. As a company they've been doing it for 40 years, which is a completely amazing achievement. The places the company have visited, all over the country, from village halls to theatres, pubs to caves is amazing and to have that much longevity and history, considering all cuts to arts funding, is staggering. For me to be part of their 40th year and celebrate their history and future with them is completely inspiring.

    Now I'm just hoping I can produce a play that justifies their faith in me... 

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  • Live Screenings and Touring Companies

    January 2014 - Elizabeth

    Lyn Gardner has written an excellent article today about how live screenings of plays and opera do not put people off going to see the real thing. She’s absolutely right. Experience generally leads to appetite which leads to more experience which leads to more appetite. The greater the variety of ways to experience theatre, the better things are for all of us, makers and audience members alike. It’s all good.

    I run a small-scale touring company with the express purpose of reaching audiences who struggle to get access to professional theatre. We tour rural areas: village halls, fields, colleges and pubs taking our work into the heart of a community. We do this because people living in geographically isolated places struggle to have the same access to live arts their urban counterparts enjoy. Transport, pricing, time – all these things conspire to deny opportunity. So I’m thrilled that live screenings give our audiences more opportunities to experience theatre in places near them. And I’m delighted the income venues get from live screenings (including bar sales) helps them afford to programme more live theatre in turn. But some of the infrastructure surrounding screenings can’t help but pitch one against the other. The good news is, the problems are completely solvable.

    For example, the day of the week. Venues that host live screenings generally get two opportunities to do so – the live night itself, and then an Encore screening at another time of their choosing. The Encore screening is usually time-limited so the venue has to do it within a few weeks of the live date. Generally the Royal Opera House live screening evenings are a Tuesday and NT Live a Wednesday. This is great for small companies like us. We’re unlikely to pack out a small arts centre on a Tuesday anyway. Thursdays and Fridays (occasionally Saturdays) are our busiest nights so this means we’re not in competition with each other. Result.

    The Encore screenings are a bit trickier. They can be shown on any night. Most venues, understandably in order to maximise revenue, choose to do these at a weekend. Less good for us. In addition, the time limit on Encore screenings is getting longer. I’m not entirely sure but I think this is something to with licensing rules. When it started venues had to do one repeat screening within a couple of weeks, now it’s stretching to more than one over several months. With the Donmar and the RSC beginning to do live screenings and the Royal Court and other companies shortly following suit, the week is looking more and more crowded. The big companies could do the small companies a favour by protecting the weekend dates for both live and Encore screenings. This would mean audiences see a live screening mid-week and live theatre at the weekend. We could even work together and offer a ticket deal for people who come to both. Everyone wins.

    Advance planning is the second catch. The big companies plan their programmes far in advance. The RSC know their shows and dates for the next two to three years. We know ours for the next eight to ten months. When live screenings started, it was on a one-off basis. A venue could pick one show and book it in for a four months or a year’s time. Now we’re seeing packages on offer, where venues have to commit to screening three or four shows from one company over a year. They can’t just have one production; they have to have the lot. So they end up clogging up the calendar (three NT Lives, four RSCs etc.) further in advance than we can talk to them about our tours. This makes sense for the big companies who want to develop a regular audience for their work (and who don’t want to have to choose between their many brilliant productions) but it’s a problem for us.

    Earlier this year, we were booking our spring tour (seven months in advance of it going on the road.) We hit a stumbling block – the dates for War Horse clashed with a touring week – the week we’d pencilled for our regular local venues. The clash wasn’t just the one night of the live show, but potentially across the other nights they might do their Encore screening too. Added to this War Horse is on a Thursday too, not a Wednesday. Of course the venues don’t want to miss the opportunity for their audience to see War Horse (and nor do we, we’d quite like to see it too). But we can’t possibly book our tours that far in advance. As more and more venues sign up to be able to host packages of live screenings from more and more companies, the harder it becomes. One local venue helpfully shared with us their live screening programme for the next eighteen months. A lovely offer but I can’t plan our work around the production calendars of the bigger companies. So you can see the contract thing is a bit of a pain. Could the big companies not insist on venues taking more than one show? Could they share their plans with us much further in advance? I’d love to talk to them about how to resolve this.

    A final concern is the vocabulary used. As I’ve said above, live theatre and live screenings can happily co-exist if everyone is responsible and there is joined up thinking across the industry. The danger is when people talk about the two things in the same sentence. Peter Bazalgette was asked about the decline in regional touring on the Today programme a couple of months ago and his answer was ‘Well, there’s NT Live’. They are not the same thing and shouldn’t be talked of as such. This is a slippery slope for audience and funders alike. There has been a decline in regional theatre touring over the last few years and live screenings must not be thought of as the answer. Two different art forms serving two different purposes.

    We were discussing live screenings and the challenges they pose at a board meeting a few months ago and someone (rather unhelpfully I thought) said: ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if one day a big theatre screened one of our shows from a village hall?.’ It made me cross at the time, but then I thought, well, why not? If both really can co-exist, then the relationship should go both ways. So I got in touch with Vicky Featherstone at the Royal Court and rather brilliantly, she cooked up a plan. She arranged for the Royal Court to host a live streaming on their website of our last show, Milked by Simon Longman. It wasn’t a live screening on the NT model, filmed with multiple cameras and beamed around the world. It was a live streaming which is simply a static camera linked to the Royal Court’s own live stream channel (like a Youtube channel) for anyone at home to log on and watch a brilliant new play live from a small theatre in rural Herefordshire. It was great. Over 250 people tuned in from around the world and our live audience loved it too.

    So what about taking this one step further? How about we set up a network of theatres that screen shows from smaller companies into their studio spaces? Imagine one of our shows beamed live from Clee St Margaret village hall into Hampstead Downstairs or the Royal Exchange Studio? Then the village hall could host a reciprocal evening, screening a Hampstead or Exchange show to their village hall audience. How about the National Theatre taking shows on tour to village halls, so regional audiences can have access to their live work as well as their screened work? How about we all work together to rebalance the city-beams-to-regions model and invent a new form of reciprocal, mutually beneficial theatre-making, live and on screen. I’m in.

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  • Young Writers

    December 2013 - Tom Wentworth

    Pentabus HQ is a very welcoming place. Where sometimes theatres can seem both intimidating and without any sense of a public face, Pentabus is the complete opposite of this with its friendly and inclusive atmosphere. It’s much more like a large Shropshire family.

    I’ve been lucky enough to be a regular visitor to the company in recent months, as a member of the first Young Writers Group. This is an exciting opportunity for 7 of us to get together every three weeks for workshops, discussions and to generally chat about the craft, pleasure and sometimes pain of writing. (Plus there’s always the added bonus tea and cake!) The group really spans a broad spectrum of ages (up to 25) and experiences but, the group, led by the Artistic Director Elizabeth, is a truly supportive and open environment.

    But don’t be fooled… the group isn’t just an excuse for a chinwag. We’ve also been lucky enough to take part in a really inspiring workshop from writer and performer Francesca Millican-Slater; explored how words on the page translate when working with actors and I’m already looking forward to next time’s session which will be led by writer Phil Porter. Plus there is always precious time to try our hand at a writing exercise which can often produce some surprising and delightful results. Last time we started to share some of our work and it was so nice to hear – even from tiny, unpolished pieces – just a few of the different voices within the group and I can’t wait to hear much more from my fellow writers.

    Being part of the Young Writers’ group isn’t simply about the sessions themselves, there a great sense of an open door policy around being associated with the company. For example, we are invited to book the Writers’ rooms whenever we like to help push forward our work in progress; plus we’re also invited and encouraged to attend work in progress showings, rehearsals and of course productions. So, I was super-excited to be invited to see Milked last week which was both hilariously funny and horrifically bleak. Plus it was great to be able to talk to the actors after show.

    So, ultimately, being in the Young Writers Group is pretty great! Perhaps best of all is that we’re being encouraged to submit our work for feedback as well as write something for the very exciting Young Writers festival next summer. Who knows what new stories will be told or what magic will be performed? I already can’t wait but until then I’m just going to enjoy everything that happens as part of this marvellous group.

    A big thank you Pentabus!

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  • Volunteering For Outdoor Theatre

    November 2013

    Volunteering for outdoor theatre Sep 2013 - Emma Alston

     

    Some weeks ago I saw a post on a local tourism site asking for people to volunteer their time....

    I had heard of Pentabus but had never seen any of their productions... Intrigued by the idea of an outside theatrical experience I emailed offering my help.

    They got back in touch, and I arrived last Thursday at the BOG CENTRE in the Stiperstones in order to meet the team... Elizabeth introduced herself and Sam the production manager...Excited and slightly apprehensive my mind was soon put to ease... Elizabeth explained in brief how the project had begun and then we set off to do the walk. Blessed with warm autumn weather we walked the route and I chatted to a few of the volunteers - nice bunch of folk...

    I immediately felt part of the group, not nervous at all... The walk was fairly easy and lasted approx. 80mins, the route took us across fields and through wood and onto the heather filled slopes. We then returned to the centre for tea & cake, met Jon the sound artist and Sophia the visual artist who has made the most beautiful moulds of her own hands that will be placed throughout the route... Some nestling... some hanging.

    We then put on our headphones and walked the route again, this time listening to the memories of the local women in our ears.

    It all suddenly began to make sense… and the tales transported me...

    At one point whilst standing next to Nipstone Rock, picking and eating winberries…it all clicked… the artist was talking about her feelings towards the landscape and I realized that I was listening to someone who was finally describing the way I have always felt  about the hills /landscape but had never been able to articulate those feelings

    It was magical…..It is magical.. I drove home feeling enthused and enlightened.

    I feel exhilarated by the whole project. I can’t wait to lead the walks, and also to talk to my friends about it - several of whom have already booked tickets!  Ahhh weather wise - who knows... but I know that whilst walking and listening... I turned my head to the sky and all the clouds disappeared.

    Thanks guys for giving me the opportunity to work with you.

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