In 2009 our first project 'Benches' was inspired by conversations with strangers on public benches around Stoke-on-Trent. This led to an unshakeable commitment to centre our projects around the lived experiences of the people we live alongside. As our work developed, we sought ways of deepening participation in our projects, which has led to our unique practice of co-creation.
We create shows collaboratively with people telling their own stories, shaping their individual narratives into a unique collective performance. This process is supported by a team of professional artists who are highly skilled in community engagement.
1:1 interviews – We first undertake a series of 1:1 interviews to discuss the subject matter of the project. We take a rigorous ethical approach to all our interviews and group work, ensuring everyone we engage with has an opportunity to stay involved and understands how the information they share may be used.
Group sessions/sharing events – We organise community events to share experiences, interests and stories. For example, during You Are Here we held 3 ‘Culture Exchange' events, where we invited people to come and share something from their culture. This helped us meet new people and begin conversations around migration and belonging. Many of the people we met in these events became performers in You Are Here.
Workshops – As part of our projects we often hold creative workshops, as tasters of what to expect in our performance work and to engage more people in the performing arts in our city.
Research and development – We then take a committed group of people through to join us in researching a new site and how we might create a performance together in this building. We discuss ideas, sing, dance, write and explore... as well as eating together!
Rehearsal and performance – Finally we rehearse with our combined community and professional cast to realise a unique performance based on the journeys of all involved. We perform in iconic sites around Stoke-on-Trent, reanimating unused spaces.
Evaluation - We are committed to thoroughly evidencing and evaluating our work as well as sharing the learning from our projects. You can view a copy of our most recent creative evaluation here (printed copies available on request)