Devising “ Shoulder To Shoulder”

Devising a new piece of theatre is challenging, exhilarating, creative, stimulating and also frustrating!  There are so many ideas and so much to say and we only have 30 - 40mins on stage. We can’t give a lecture; it has to be theatrical, entertaining and engaging. Actors, directors, dramaturgs and writers really do have to trust the process. It’s about creating , exploring and editing and much will be jettisoned and that can be hard.  

It takes real professionalism to stick with it and work for the best outcome and not be too precious about  anything you have written or improvised.  We now have ten solid cast members who have stuck with this process and we are pretty much there with a full script.   

It has taken hard work and dedication. Anything worth doing takes commitment, but it really is worth it in the end. I’ve been very impressed with these cast members. They have come up with ideas, have written pieces, talked about their own experiences and have been open to the editing process. That takes patience, humility and trust. We are now very excited about how the final piece will look. It’s a mixture of text, physical theatre and music and it says so much in a short space of time. It takes on serious subjects, but there is also comedy. 

We’ve been lucky to work with the wonderful Paper Birds Theatre Company who are well known for their work on verbatim, political and physical theatre. It’s been a joy to work with them. It’s taken many people out of their comfort zones, but that’s a good thing isn’t it? 

If you are interested in theatre it’s great to learn new skills from different practitioners. That was indeed what this project is about - community actors have the chance to  work with renowned professional companies.  

Not only have we been engaged in workshops and rehearsals, but the company also went to hear Helen Pankhurst speak at the Higgins in Bedford recently. Helen is the great granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and the granddaughter of Sylvia. It  was  such a stimulating afternoon. Helen’s book “Deeds Not Words” is really worth a read. It looks at where we are now one hundred years from 1918 when some women were given the vote. It’s incredibly well researched, but also accessible and easy to read. It looks at how far we have come (or not) and how much more we have to do.  We gave out flyers and talked to Helen about the project and she was very interested. We hope she can make a performance.

“I am hoping over this centenary period there’s a whole set of events can be used to honour what they’ve done, also to highlight the need for continued advocacy”  Dr Helen Pankhurst

The other partnerships in Northampton and Oxfordshire are now gathering pace and we shall be sharing their progress in the coming weeks!

Costumes are being sources, marketing is happening and more posters have arrived this morning. Masks for Vamos who are working with Abingdon and Witney College have been ordered and we await further news from the intensive workshops about to take place. This really is the most exciting project involving community groups, schools, colleges, theatres, libraries and festivals. It is quite unique.

Funded by the Arts Council, Awards For All and The MK Community Foundation.

Tickets are on sale for all performances

MK Literature Festival

Sunday 23rd September 9.15pm
Holiday Inn
Tickets £5.00
Pepper’s Ghost new piece

Stantonbury Theatre

Performance of the two shows developed in MK
Stantonbury students with Zoo Co and Pepper’s Ghost with Paper Birds
Friday 5th October 7.30pm
Tickets £10.00 and £8.00 (concession)
01908 324466

Cornerstone Arts Centre

Showcases the two pieces developed in Oxfordshire
Abingdon and Witney College with Vamos and Didcot Girls’s School with Haste
Tuesday 16th October 7.30pm
Tickets £10.00 and £8.00 (concessions)
01235 515144

Royal and Derngate Theatre

Gala performance  showcasing all five projects including Actors Company (Royal and Derngate) with Stan’s Cafe
Sunday 21st October 3.30pm – 7.30pm
Tickets £8.00 and £12.00 ( for whole festival)
01604 624811

In other news!

“Funny Faces” by Steve Dimmer goes on the final leg of its amazing tour. 

The next leg will see the dynamic duo in Kettering (Bonkers Theatre) on 14th September 7.30pm and Birmingham (The Old Joint Stock Theatre) on 21st and 22nd September 7.45pm with a matinee also on 22nd September at 2.30pm. 

Tickets are on sale at

Don’t miss this last chance to see this fabulous double bill. Two outstanding performances of two plays by Steve Dimmer which are funny, moving and poignant in equal measure.

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