As part of its New Popular initiative, Farnham Maltings issued a call out to seed fund up to five new pieces of theatre developed by UK South East artists for South East communities.
The project aims to invest in the production of new work which connects with those who may not regularly engage with theatre, work that is enticing and relevant; work that plays with new forms, that considers the priorities and needs of its audience.
We are excited to be supporting a mix of projects which will seek to engage with new audiences in Norfolk, Folkestone, Isle of Wight, Hastings, Shoreham and East Brighton.
"We are really excited to invest in this range of projects. The work is created with and for the community it’s developed for, it draws upon traditional entertainment including magic and birthday parties, playing with these forms to introduce contemporary theatre experiences for a broad audience. We’ll see work explored and tested in cafés, community centres, schools, harbourside and via virtual platforms."
Katy Potter, Senior Producer
In this year, the organisation is supporting five projects, these are:
In Norfolk, Graphite & Diamond, in association with HighTide, are working with young people to explore what it means to come of age in a time of crisis with Write to the Horizon. Two cohorts of young people will develop short audio plays, stories or experiences, which audiences can hear online and at local arts festivals in 2024, alongside the development of a new play for young adults by Norfolk-based writer Joseph Connolly.
In Folkestone, Smoking Apples, an award-winning puppetry and visual theatre company are partnering with KRAN, Folkestone Harbour Arm, Folkestone Museum, and Ann Morgan to bring you We are more alike than you think we are! Meet The Anthologists. Some call them travellers, some collectors, some call them story and people acceptors. These two have travelled far and wide, through time and space plenty besides.
Tracking the movement of people coming to the Kentish coast since the dawn of time, join these two as they map the past, present and future of communities seeking change. With spellbinding puppetry and striking visual theatre, join Smoking Apples and discover we’re more alike than you think we are.
On the Isle of Wight, theatre maker Jenifer Toksvig will produce The Copenhagen Interpretation of The Broad Cloth, a piece of guided community theatre which uses a ground-breaking new production process for accessibility.
Set on a fictional island whose main industry is the traditional manufacture of a woollen textile called broadcloth, the story revolves around their traditional coming-of-age gift: a bolt of broadcloth which is prepared and blessed at a community gathering. The recipient then spends their life being judged by how they cut their cloth.
The full production will take place with different island communities around the UK and Scandinavia, each one imagining the fictional community and bringing it to life in their own unique way. Their first step is to trial this with the Ventnor Exchange and the community of the Isle of Wight. Find out more, here.
In South East coastal towns, theatre maker Augusto Corrieri’s alter ego magician Vincent Gambini will take Close-up, a short magic performance for one person at a time, to three different cafés along the English south-eastern coast.
The performance is experienced live through a set of headphones: as you listen to a story about meeting a magician in a café, feats of sleight-of-hand of magic begin to take place in front of your very own eyes. Find out more, here.
In East Brighton communities, TalkShow will host a theatre experience Bad Party to audiences aged 8-12.
You’re invited to a party, but there’s an undeniable sense that all is not well. Gradually the party breaks down and the audience will have to guide the action. Can they get the show, and the adults running the show, back on track? The young party guests will need empathy and imagination to create their own ending and decide where we go from here.
Bad Party affords the young audience a freedom and autonomy that aren’t always experienced in the theatre and a platform to boost their self-esteem and confidence through genuine agency, creativity and interactive play. As adults we sometimes shield children from our problems and anxieties, but can they support us adults, just as we try to support them?
New Popular, supported by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, aims to bring theatre-makers and communities together, to test and develop new work for unconventional spaces with the ambition of reaching broader audiences in new places with new experiences.