Moving Forward

So as we’re nearing the end of our residency. We’ve been reflecting on our experiences. On Wednesday this week we presented some of the ideas and research we’ve collated on our short journey so far.

With the help of our musician friends Michael and Kieran we we’re able to showcase some of the music we’ve been creating as well as a short script/story outline. This was to a small audience including Ian Morley (Theatre Programmer Barnsley Civic).

We’ve learnt many lessons over this past two weeks, the main one being the fear of going into the unknown isn’t nearly as daunting as the fear of not putting ourselves out there at all.  Much like the people we met in Barnsley who contributed to our research, we have also been asking ourselves what we value, what is our biggest fears and what is important to us as a company. We value the opportunity to work as a company with others that share our vision to create exciting, beautiful theatre that brings to life the stories that we have collected and those we hold dear. We are still in the first flush of our relationship as a company. Still in the flirting stages. Still wanting to show the best of ourselves.  We are looking forward to moving forward, making mistakes, daring to think big and push ourselves as performers and theatre makers out of our comfort zone. Much like our little match girl we are are sitting in our play den of ideas sometimes seemingly surrounded by rubbish but having the will to dig deep into our pile to discover the potential treasure that lies underneath.

We want to meet others who inspire us, to learn, to see what’s possible if we put ourselves out there. Moving forward we’ll be using the next few months to evaluate what we’ve learnt in preparation for finding our identity as a company.  This will provide the foundations of some really great theatre that we’re truly proud of and excited by.

These experiences wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Arts Council England who provided us with a Research and Development grant. The Civic Barnsley, especially Ian Morley who has been a huge support and fountain of knowledge.  Ian and The Civic have enabled us to start our journey in a safe environment.  Our time here has given us the confidence as a new company to really think it could be possible to make something wonderful.  We hope that this is the start of a long and happy relationship with the Civic.

Lastly we’d like to thank the generous people of Barnsley who shared their stories with us.

We’d love to hear from you if you want to share your stories with us, or if you’re a theatre maker, performer, designer or musician who is interested in collaborating with us.

Emma, Theresa & Liz

Week 2 begins…

So we’re in our second week of The Civic’s Artists Residency Programme at Barnsely Civic. As a new company we’ve been using this time to not only work out who we are, but what kind of theatre we want to make.Part of our ethos as a company is to work with other practitioners and professionals to enhance the work we create. Today we we’re joined by native Barnsley types Michael justice – actor and Kieran Harris – writer and musician. Michael and Kieran worked with us in writing some music and lyrics for our show. 

We came up with two songs, an opening and an introduction to ‘Cookie’ (a wondrous creature with a passion for all things fabulous) These songs don’t have titles or even a complete set of lyrics, but we’ve all come away excited and inspired to continue on our musical journey.
We really couldn’t have done it without Kieran and Micheal. We’re all keen singers but our ability to write music is limited to Lizzy banging a drum and Theresa’s rendition of ‘Ave Maria‘ on the recorder! So after today’s antics Andrew Lloyd Webber better watch out!!

One man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure

We’ve reached the end of our first week at Barnsley Civic and the end of our first week ever of being 12MilesNorth Theatre Company. The Civics Artists Residency Programme has been invaluable to us, mainly because it has pushed us into saying out loud, all over Facebook and to the Arts Council England, here we are, we’re going to be making some plays from now on. Good ones. And once you’ve said that…you have to do it!

The Civic have been very welcoming and supportive. They’ve given us spaces, big massive rooms that we can run around in and a speaker that we can play George Ezra Budapest on really loud (he’s definitely saying ‘For you I do bi do’!!) A fob, that feels like a backstage pass so we can go through doors that normal people can’t and make coffee in the kitchen AND sneak into the Assembly Room performance space and run around in the dark (because we couldn’t find a light switch). They’ve introduced us to Rachel and Matt from Small Items who are also part of CARP, so we can pop into their room for a dance and a bit of Karaoke. They’ve also given us quite a bit of advice about being a theatre company.
So we’ve had a brilliant week, and as well as all that we’ve been working out how to make this play.
After the workshops we wanted to jump straight into our story. The story is quite sad, if you don’t know it, she’s freezing cold and trying to sell matches, no one is buying she lights some matches to stay warm and then she dies! So Theresa took out a big piece of paper and wrote ‘JOYFUL’ in the middle of it….and that’s where we started.
We’ve made some decisions that we love. She lives on a den, a scrap heap full of other peoples rubbish. She see’s beauty in things other people discard and ignore. She is full of hope. She survives on hope. And she’s on a mission to get to the 35th UK Annual Ballroom Dancing Championship at Blackpool Tower Ballroom before midnight.
Let’s see if we can get her there……
P.S It rained so much on the last day that the bus station got flooded…..but Emma found a rainbow.

Super Heroes and Grandmas

Today we did a workshop for 6-9yr olds. We were proper chuffed when 5 kids turned up and one Grandma. We hadn’t a clue how many would come, if any! If no-one came we would have had to do it with my little one Eric who’s 18 months and he would have been rubbish – he’s very good at spinning around but we can already do that so we are very very grateful to the 5 that showed up and got stuck in.
The kids were all local from different backgrounds, the oldest being nine and the youngest six. We began with a warm up game of Grandmas footsteps – we didn’t use the actual Grandma who came, we let her put her feet up and observe. We then talked about their favourite super heroes and got them to think up a super hero name and power then used our ‘prop table’ to make a super hero outfit.
One of the props wasn’t a flat screen TV but there were puppets made by Liz’s fair hands…
Everyone loves a puppet. These became a side-kick to the kids super heroes as every super hero needs a side-kick. Then, with our outfits on and side-kicks by our sides (obviously) we created a story where good overcame evil and our Grandmas saved the day.
And as all good things should, we ended the session with chocolate biscuits and orange squash.
So, why are u doing this you may ask, in your head, while you’re reading this. Well. Our first project is going to be a modern re-telling of The Little Match Girl using super heroes and grandmas – hence why we did the workshop. See, there’s always a reason. We were successful in our application for Arts Council funding for this project so this workshop and our sofa in Barnsley yesterday are all part of the research and development towards this.
We are also in the middle of our first week of the Civic Artistic Residency Programme (CARP – the Civic and so far we’re enjoying every minute and they couldn’t have made us feel more welcome and at home.
Here’s to the next week – after this ones finished of course!
Na then see thee x

‘Tek a pew, av a brew’

As 12MilesNorth we took to the streets of Barnsley today collecting stories and tales from those that live here.

With the help of our lovely friends The Barnsley Council Town Ambassadors we descended upon Barnsley town centre this morning armed with tea, coffee and delicious home made (yeah right) cakes and biscuits.

We weren’t entirely sure what to expect, or indeed if anyone would like to join us in our little outdoor living room but we we’re pleasantly surprised…

It wasn’t long before the first story tellers were settled on the sofa, tea in hand ready to answer any questions coming their way.

We focused our chat on what people valued, what they felt was important and their experiences of living in Barnsley.

We managed to interact with a cross section of the community from grandmothers out shopping to young kids enjoying the school holidays in the sun.

Common themes and responses were peoples attachment to family and how the community was an extension of this.  Both young and old felt passionate about their relationships and valued this above all material possessions (they really we’re a lovely bunch).

We were totally overwhelmed by the response.  We managed to meet some fantastic folk and heard some wonderfully inspiring tales.

We’re all very much looking forward to tomorrows workshop at Barnsley Civic with 6-9 year old’s where we’ll be creating some super hero characters!