Stories Of The Streets. Day #1 Rehearsals.

I have always been interested in stories and how important they are for many different reasons. So being my first experience of Stories Of The Streets (SOTS) I was intrigued to know where it all began and how it has evolved to where it is today and what better way than to be given the opportunity to blog about it.

So this blog will come from the words of a SOTS virgin! And I hope that for anyone who hasn’t experienced it and for people that have, this will give you an insight into the process of the production and inspire you to come see it.

SOTS was curated by Kelly Jones and supported by NTW TEAM in 2010. Kelly was inspired to write and wanted to give other people the opportunity to do the same. Overheard conversations were used as the main source of inspiration and the backbone to this project. Writers would go out on to the street, listen to what people were chatting about, then in workshops develop it into a script.  By using the power of conversation a creative body of work was made. Tom Wentworth joined Kelly in 2014 and they have been inseparable ever since, together with Disability Arts Cymru they have produced a unique take on SOTS 2016. Each writer has been given a specific brief with designated location and to also incorporate an access requirement into their work, this could be in the form of BSL, audio description or captioning. Their challenge then is to incorporate it in a creative manner within their script to which 5 short productions will be then performed around the Angel Hotel on the 28th January.

Tom and Kelly  SOTS Producers,  Sara Beer Disability Arts Cymru and Buddug Jones Captioner 

The morning took off with introductions. As well as the director, stage management and actors, amongst the team was also an audio describer, a BSL interpretor and a captioner. Catherine Paskell the director of SOTS spoke about the nature of the show and the importance of each element within to merge to create a unique and exciting performance, offering a more devised approach where each and every person is entitled to have their say.  

Catherine Paskell, Emily Butler, Connor Allen and Darius Nash discussing their thoughts on the script.

Each script has a two hour time slot in which it has to be read through, analysed and staged. 'The Sofa' written by Julie Bainbridge was the first script. Julie discovered her love for writing 5 years ago and decided to peruse it by attending a Habit of Art New Writers programme at the National Writing Centre, Wales and from there a script writing Masters in Bath.  She discovered SOTS last year and was invited back this year as an experienced writer.  The City Hall was Julies given location and also given the task to consolidate audio captions within her script. Her initial ideas for her piece were inspired by the large sofas near the registrar office, she imagined couples waiting nervously for their time to go in and tie the knot, from this her imagination took off and ‘The Sofa’ was created!

Julie Bainbridge writer of 'The Sofa' and Sara Beer from Disability Arts Cymru 

Allistair Still Audio Decriber and Erika James BSL Interpretor 

For the read through of 'The Sofa' Catherine introduced a technique called physicalizing, the actors had to make an action on each punctuation. This made a change in the status of the characters and emphasized a contrast between them. There characters developed and the feel of the script went from just being read to bringing out the rich substance of the text. Once the audio captions were added it formed another layer creating a very moving piece which I look forward to seeing on the night.

Connor Allen and Darius Nash reading through 'The Sofa'

The second script, 'The Trained Mask' was written by Joanna Ryan-Purcell and is a complete contrast to 'The Sofa'. Joanna is a poet and has been writing since the age of 16. She discovered SOTS by attending a workshop hosted by Kelly where she introduced her poetry to her and from that Joanna was invited to attend this year’s event. Joanna’s story is based in a cinema about one man and his thoughts, within her piece she has devised a clever way of incorporating audio description into the script.

Joanna Ryan-Purcell writer of 'The Trained Mask' 

The actors read through the script whilst the whole team worked together discussing meanings and metaphors to Joanna’s poetic piece.  Different approaches were made to how the piece was to be staged, with such a rich body of text not many actions were needed. It ended up becoming a very personal piece, staged in a way that I could make a deeper connection to.

Today has been a really interesting and inspiring one. Watching the development of a script into a physical piece was fascinating and the fact that each one only took two hours to complete was really impressive. Catherine introduced some thought provoking techniques, taking the devised approach unfolded many ideas which seemed to flourish between everyone in the team, in turn creating some unusual and creative pieces that I can't wait to see the end result of! A very successful day had by all!

Tomorrow the final scripts will be read through, rehearsed and a run will take place in the afternoon. Check out my next blog tomorrow on day two of Stories of the Streets!


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