‘Heartbeat’ Doorstep Theatre
Lockdown has created a situation for many where we have been cut off and isolated from one another and the familiar way of life that we knew. Live performances were stopped and online connection took over, but as the weeks and months passed, people craved that live, visceral contact.
Heartbeat is a joint project with Wassail Theatre, funded by Arts Council England. The project aims to create theatre which is tactile, intimate, and touching (in the heartfelt sense!). Performances create a sense of fun and connection, bringing joy and recognition to the local community.
We have completed 18 shows so far – all with a completely different atmosphere! It has been enjoyed by children, young people, middle ages and elders alike! Heartbeat is a poignant piece, taking the audience on a journey around the lockdown experience and providing a space for them to participate, sharing their voices and thoughts. The show is a great example of what we call Social and Community Theatre, where site specific relates an intensity of really being in your own yard. This is Theatre being brought directly to local people – literally right on their Doorstep!
View photos of performances here
Here’s what our audiences have said about Heartbeat:
‘Fantastic experience and something different in bringing the community together’
‘It’s really important to get a chance to talk about what has actually happened – and having live performance’
‘Unique and refreshing – makes you think a bit’
Read more testimonials here
Sierra Leone – Wood Green Online Arts Platform
This project began with an exploration of culture, place and the impact of lockdown, COVID-19 and connecting African Caribbean – African Community experiences. This was the start of a longer-term engagement, aiming to create joint creative expression through online channels. The project organically evolved into a two way festival, sharing a range of performances, including poetry, rap, dance, storytelling, songs, artwork and beyond, via Zoom over the course of 10 weeks.
Listen to Joanna’s poem ‘Meet Africaridon‘ below
Take a moment to read this reflection of the project from our collaborator June Tuitt
The journey across the oceans has been a unique, exciting, spiritual and invigorating experience. It evolved quite spontaneously into a cross-cultural intergenerational exchange on an emotional, educational and psychological level. One of the many things this journey showed me was quite often those who have the least accessibility to modern technology seem to take advantage of the opportunities offered. There was more of a hunger and enthusiasm to get the most out of the meetings.
Watching the young people so willing to show their creative skills and talents in singing, spoken word, rap, dancing, graphics and performing showed us how our youth go beyond their stereotypical labels. Harmonny, a young woman of 13 years old, said she learnt more by listening and participating than any online school programme. She grew so much during the weeks and it was the first time she performed her song in public and on any platform. The platform definitely challenged our young people and created a safe space to develop trust and confidence.
People were able to share their emotional journeys and stories around death and COVID-related traumas. It was extremely emotional and touching to hear heartfelt and personal stories from everyone. We truly opened up about what loss feels like, how we differ and how we are the same through the grieving process. Everything was expressed through different artforms and open discussion.
Our finale was a festival over two weeks – nobody wanted it to end. These are links and bonds that have been created for a lifetime. It was the first opportunity that I had the time and space to explore my own poetry and it was received with kindness and enthusiasm. Being a facilitator and co-facilitator was a wonderful experience, working alongside Stephen, Joanna and Hassan… and of course all the other members of the group.
And this testimony from Hassan Kanu
The participation into the Wood Green – Sierra Leone ZOOM platform came from a long-term relationship and mentorship from Joanna Procter and Stephen Moss (Reveal Productions) through drama, theatre, storytelling, poetry and cultural dance and performances. The platform was fruitful, motivational, and has impacted the lives of many young Sierra Leoneans in a decent and pleasant way of life for the past weeks . In bringing young people across the country in Sierra Leone, this has created a swift way of self-discovery in order for them to continue their journey through their area of expertise.
Positive Impacts: Apparently now everyone in our Sierra Leone community knows about Zoom, compared to before COVID. People have congregated to the service to keep up with friends on the normal Monday meeting from London with Joanna (and June Tuitt with the Wood Green London crowd), which has transformed for better changes, especially bringing them together for a better lifestyle. The Wood Green – Sierra Leone Zoom platform, through the cultural heritage, poetry, drama, storytelling, from Freetown young stars has helped them to identify their potential talent in a suitable way of life.
In this time of immense growth, people are realising that when they are globally connected they will learn a lot of things.
Challenges: The only challenge is that connecting many people in Sierra Leone through Zoom link is actually costly for many hours. Even though the network is very good and clear, it is really expensive and it was sponsored by Joanna Procter (Reveal Productions using Arts Council England COVID Emergency funding for this project) every Monday (for 10 weeks, ending in the last 2 weeks with a mini festival of performance from Wood Green and Sierra Leone).
We hope that these strides will stimulate to build a well-designed bridge that connects and unites to all partners at home and abroad.
Since the project, Hassan and his friends in Sierra Leone are setting up a new NGO – Global Youth Network Initiative – to connect young people using Zoom for creative arts connections, and creating a YouTube channel for putting up creative content. This will develop youth leadership in Sierra Leone and will aim to connect with us and other countries.
Pattern Up 2020
Funded by the Arts Council England and Westhill Endowment Trust, Pattern Up The Play completed its second run in February 2020.
Mongi Mthombeni worked with writer Marika McKennell and director Joanna Procter to develop the original script and embolden the story. The cast worked with Rubs Stevenson to incorporate African dance into the play and actor Jae Marcus X developed a number of acapella songs based on traditional African chants and gospel. New actors Jeremie Kadi and Amaarah Roze joined the cast.
Pattern Up toured to 8 locations in early 2020 and was performed in theatre settings, including the Arcola Theatre, Hackney and McQueen’s Theatre at Karamel, Wood Green, as well as at City Hall (Greater London Authority Council Chamber), a church hall, a community college, an Academy High School, and an Alternative Education Provision. Performances received a very positive response, particularly from the young people in the schools. The performance at the High School with 80 students ended with a very positive discussion with the cast and dancing to music played by our new self-taught sound man Anaijiah Tuitt. This was followed in the afternoon by a two-hour workshop with the students, exploring the themes of the play.
The performance at Tottenham Community Sports Centre was very well attended and the cast was met with a standing ovation and a long discussion with the audience.
OD Festival East and West Coker Somerset 2020
We began work with Nick White and Wassail Productions to devise a performance for the festival with students at Yeovil College. Unfortunately this project was put on hold due to COVID-19, but we are ever hopeful.
Public Service Transformation Academy Annual Conference 18th June 2019
We worked with Sola Adebiyi and RedQuadrant to provide a taster session at this conference, looking at how public services can work better with citizens in a transformational way. This was an ’embodied systems’ session, using “Theatre of the Opressed” methods to provide something different and unexpected that might change the audience’s way of thinking and inspire them to try something different in working with complex systems of relationships, and to demonstrate the voice of the service user/the outsiders – which is unlikely to be well-represented at the conference.
This approach could be incorporated into a deeper exploration of how local health and care systems work. It was very well received by the 30+ delegates at the conference. Although just a taster, we received a great deal of engagement and voices of the service user were vividly invoked.
Somerset Charabanc 2019
A joint production with Nick White of Wassail Theatre and Somerset Wildlife Trust at Westhay Nature Reserve, funded by Arts Council England.
This year the Millers Cart drawn by Suffolk Shire horses blazed a trail through Westhay Nature Reserve, with the audience on board exploring the land where the action took place; a story of greed and deception against the backdrop of climate change and conservation.
There were 20+ performances through June and July.
“Care As You Are” the Film
A training tool for professionals working with family carers of people with dementia
Care As You Are, created with Mary Renouf as part of our imaginAge projects, is a film about the emotional impact of caring for a parent or spouse with dementia. This project is funded by a grant from “the Solutions for an Ageing Society” programme run by Somerset Community Foundation in partnership with UnLtd, South West Academic Health Science Network and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.
The film is written by Mary and directed by Joanna, working with dementia expert Dr Jane Dalrymple and carers groups in Somerset to ensure the script met the needs of carers. Conversations surrounding dementia in loved ones can be awkward and pushed under the carpet, especially when talking about feelings. People can feel isolated, frustrated and invisible.
We received a grant from Somerset CC Adult Social Care to develop a film as a training tool for people working with and supporting family carers. The film was screened in Langport and Taunton as part of Dementia Action Week on 21st and 22nd May 2019, followed by a training development workshop on 25th June to develop the training package with a number of professionals. We then continued our work with Dr Jane Dalrymple to develop the training packages, working with a number of organisations representing different parts of the sector.
Following feedback, Care As You Are has now been into two versions – one is a straight-through version while the other pauses at the end of various scenes to allow reflections and questions relating to the scene. We are now looking at how the film can be used as a training and development tool for professional carers, health workers and community groups to provide emotional support for family carers looking after relatives with dementia – and how we can fund this development work.
Pattern Up November 2018 – January 2019
Pattern Up was performed 9 times at community centres in North London, the College of Haringey, Enfield and NE London, and in two venues in Leicester, where June grew up. We had an audience of around 600 across the performances. After each show the cast held a discussion with the audience and shared information about the work of Communities Against Violence Haringey, a grassroots community organisation founded by Ken, June and other community activists in Haringey, North London.
Pattern Up Rehearsals 2018
Pattern Up is a play devised and directed by Joanna Procter alongside two community activists, Ken Hinds and June Tuitt, based on their lives in Tottenham, London. Written by Marika McKennell, the play shares their stories and commitment to ending violence in their community.
The initial phase of the project, funded by Arts Council England, involved engaging local people, research, and script development. We then received additional funding from the Arts Council and Westhill Endowment Trust to go into production and performances.
“Chara-bike”, OD Festival East and West Coker, Somerset 2018
A one-man show for the OD Festival, an Arts Festival in East and West Coker, with Nick White of Wassail Productions, based on the character “Pete” from Somerset Charabanc, the show followed his character (played by Nick) and his girlfriend “Babs” (a puppet with personality) around the villages of East and West Coker, with performances taking place in pub, meadow, playground, cafe, and even a butcher shop!