… to the development of new theatre projects in the South East

In February of this year, an open call out to artists, venues and arts promoters was issued. All projects were required to have community partners on board and demonstrate a desire from all to create something new together. The response was fantastic, and the four successful proposals articulate original, unlikely alliances between theatre makers and communities.

Each of the four projects have been offered seed funding to test their ideas and develop the work, the best of these Farnham Maltings hope to support into full production and share in new locations with further audiences.

The four commissioned projects:

A-line Art working with The Spring and Shoppertainment

A-Line Art will create a brand new playful, interactive environment for The Meridian Shopping Centre in Havant called the ‘Wriggle and Scribble’ playground. The design will be developed and created with community groups from The Spring Arts & Heritage Centre. The ‘playground’ will encourage families to have a shared connected experience as they jump, wiggle and dance whilst keeping socially distant in this new world we are living in. The model will be tested with plans to recreate in Surrey locations later in 2021.

Dante or Die working with Ideas Test and South Street Arts Centre, Reading

Celebrated site-specific theatre company Dante or Die, will work in Chatham, Kent and Reading, Berkshire with partners Ideas Test and South Street, to pilot a new touring community engagement programme, ‘Odds On’. The project will culminate in a sharing of scenes from a new production to take place in betting shops. The project will engage with those affected by gambling through interviews and workshops, to explore the role of bookmakers within small communities. The aim of this pilot is to create a programme and site-specific production, which can be toured to other communities across the UK in the future.

 Fuel in partnership with Slung Low with Market Place Creative People and Places

‘Izzy, BOSSS and Fractal’ is an imaginative and immersive touring production aimed at children aged 5+. Through the characters of Izzy, a young scientist working to clean plastic out of the oceans and Fractal, an alien who does the same on another planet the production will explore ideas of global collaboration and citizenship. In a shipping container (or similar structure) which pops up in school playgrounds and public spaces, children will journey to the moon and back in a highly participatory production. The show is being developed in partnership with Slung Low with Alan Lane directing, Börkur Jónsson designing and Keisha Thompson developing the script, produced by Fuel.

Sara Clifford for Inroads with Newhaven Town Council and Goldsmiths University

Thomas Carlyle said –“No ghost was ever seen by two pairs of eyes…” None of us believe in ghosts, of course.  But everyone down the pub has a story:  we all know and tell ghost stories and delight in them – even as we scoff at them. After all, don’t we secretly enjoy those spine-tingling moments – and maybe, in the end, some things just can’t be explained? ‘Two Pairs of Eyes’ will begin this summer by gathering stories and interviews for a new community story and performance for Newhaven in 2021 with plans to visit other communities at later dates.

“We are delighted to be able to invest in new theatre in these very uncertain times for our industry. All these projects will explore how we safely create alongside our communities in these new, uncommon times and celebrate the connection of coming together as audiences to experience something new and different, yet fondly familiar… We are seed funding ideas which have placed the audience at the very start at their creation and have considered how to reach that audience through their form, location, content and style, the more mischievous their approach the better!” – Katy Potter, Producer of New Popular.

Farnham Maltings ‘New Popular’ initiative is a five-year project, supported by Esmée Fairbairn, which invests in the testing and creation of new theatre with the ambition of connecting broader audiences in new places with new experiences.

Image: ©Ray Gibson

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