Saturday, 6 April 2013

in the beginning...

The Book of Kingdoms was a high-concept theatre-in-education project initially aimed at 9-11 year olds. It ended up also appealing to 8 year olds and 80 year olds.

There were 28 performances with 1700 attendances over the seven and a half week tour with accompanying workshops at the schools’ performances.

Five adult performers were employed (including a musician and a dance artist) and three young actors aged 9-10 years sharing/alternating a role.

There was also a guest appearance at each performance by either a States Member (a politician) or a year 5 or year 6 teacher. [In the few absences of this guest the Director took their place.]

The original aim with the project was three-fold:

  • to create a wholly engaging and inspiring 70-minute theatre piece for 9-11 year olds
  • to generate a curiosity about: the history being explored; the world in which we live; and the land, the sea and the people of the island of Jersey
  • to challenge conventions and concepts of theatre, history and the way we learn

The project was high-concept because a number of these ideas made for extraordinary, challenging and pioneering realisations:

  • the bringing together of twelve differently skilled and experienced artists
  • an unconventional theatre-design process
  • the fantastical world of the piece created by the child
  • the contemporary world - of today - of [the] play 
  • the creation of unique characters: the King, the Farmer, the Dancer, the Cleaner, the Boy, the Musician, the Politician
  • the casting of children in key creative roles
  • the structure of the 30 books: from books to milk to bikes to friends
  • the necessity for a wider historical context beyond King Charles II's two visits to Jersey in 1646 and 1649
  • the commissioning of two original songs
  • the live music accompaniament not originally conceived
  • the invitation to States Members to participate as politicians as an integral part of the debate
  • the gifting of 1700 Jersey Diary ice-creams as an integral part of the action
  • the freezer-machinations of said ice-creams
  • the freezer conditions of rehearsal
  • the development of a multi-layered performance text
  • the improvisational skills of the performers
  • the development of workshops to complement and enhance the theatre experience
  • and probably much more besides… 

The Book of Kingdoms will be assessed on its ability to:

  • communicate history through theatre-making
  • to concentrate and liberate the imaginations and creativity of its participants
  • commit to the essence of original story-telling and play
  • fulfil the three original aims above

Just a few thoughts to debrief myself: now done...

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