CREATIVE PROCESS FOR CHOOSING STORIES

CREATIVE PROCESS FOR CHOOSING  STORIES

WHAT IS OUR CREATIVE PROCESS FOR DECIDING WHICH STORIES TO CHOOSE FOR A COMMUNITY PLAY?

Document accompanying talk by Tony Horitz, Director, Wimborne Community Theatre for the acta community theatre and heritage webinar, 24th June 2020.

 STEP 1       PRE-STORIES PHASE  WCT members talk about finding:

  • Themes: local/national, e.g. Coming & going of local Railway – Enquire Within 2008; WW1 –By The Way 2018
  • Issues: local/national, e.g. How best to protect common land? – By Hook or By Crook 2005; By The Way 2016
  • Location: Outdoor/unusual indoors, e.g. Victorian Pumphouse – The Great Rinsing 2012; museum/town centre – What They Left Behind 2016
  • History: uncovering/ showing in new light, e.g. NT’s Kingston Lacy House & Grounds – Voyages 1991/94; 1000 year old Wimborne Minster – A Tale of Hours 1993
  • Partners: linked to the above: e.g. National Trust; Wessex Water Board; English Nature’; Priest’s House Museum

 STEP 2       FINDING POTENTIAL STORIES – reflecting a wide range of community, illustrating agreed theme/location

CASE STUDY: What They Left Behind • 2016  (various indoor and outdoor sites, Wimborne town centre) Created as part of national commemoration of WW1, focussing on the impact of the War on people living in Wimborne; ACE Grants for Arts; Wimborne BID

WCT members researched simultaneously:

  • International sources – Western Front Association; online regimental reports; books, (non-fiction and fiction; poetry; war artists – Allies and Germans; war museums e.g. Imperial War Museum; Ypres Cloth Museum; Western Front battle grounds; cemeteries; local and university historians
  • Public Open Days at Museum inviting people to bring inherited OBJECTS to unlock STORIES
  • Interviews about objects to record memories & feelings

STEP 3       SELECTING KEY STORIES

WCT members selected the following Objects & their Stories from those people brought

  • Letter written by Mrs Angell to War Office asking for return of her sons’ personal effects ‘so she could grieve the better’ (family of agricultural labourers; loss of three sons)
  • Contemporary Poem by woman in her 80s, addressed to her father – showing the impact of his PTSD on her as a child, and her new understanding
  • Autograph Book belonging to Wimborne resident, Bessie Coggin, and Diary of Londoner, Olive Harcourt, both Volunteer Nurses at local Red Cross hospitals (including songs, messages; cartoons; memories and anecdotes by recovering soldiers
  • Oral History Book about former shop-keeper – owners of Museum building, experiences during war – child’s POV

STEP 4            DRAMATISING THE STORIES

Process undertaken by WCT members with professional artists, choir, musicians

  • Role-play and Improvisation sessions – ed drama techniques e.g. hot seating; role on the wall
  • Writing Script – stories edited into a whole script that remains authentic to the original material (including Verbatim stories and songs), but also interpreting stories imaginatively , using different styles
  • Sharing back to group, partners, informants – Ensuring groups/partners feel ownership of the script
  • Amending stories –for reasons of historical accuracy (Framptons) and artistic concerns (general)
  • Re-writing/ Editing
  • Rehearsals
  • Performances (different scenes staged in carousel in Cornmarket; church hall; museum shop & garden; Minster Green by War Memorial
  • Evaluation by Audiences/ Reflection
  • Archiving   Heritage Lottery funded website: to archive the materials associated with WCT productions since 1991. This includes local history, stories, new legends, scripts, photographs, videos, etc.                                The physical materials are archived at Dorset History Centre.

 

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