Arts Gym: Shine On - Alan Van Wijgerden

Rose-tinted Glasses - Arts Gym: Shine On get a glimpse at their CET performance space

Posted on 9 April 2018

With rehearsals now underway for our Read All About It performance takeover of the Coventry Evening Telegraph Building in July, there’s lots of planning to be done by our multiple community groups involved in the project. Not only have they got to get their stories, scripts and characters into shape, they’ve also got to get to grips with the unusual spaces they’ll be performing in as part of City Final.

Here, Arts Gym: Shine On member Margaret Emerton shares some of her group’s initial thoughts after getting their first look around the CET Building, as well as some tantalizing clues about the show they’ll be presenting, with photographs by her fellow performer Alan Van Wijgerden…

Arts Gym Shine On

It’s a cold March day as a group of people stare at the dark loading bay of the CET Building. Filled with crates, it’s difficult to see inside. The grey concrete stares back at us from the walls, the platform and the stairs.

This is our performance space, we are toId. A daunting prospect.

It all started many weeks ago, when the project was outlined to us, a site-specific performance, they said. Well, that is certainly different!

We talked of what the Coventry Evening Telegraph meant to us, from the local stories to the vast entertainment guide and of course the “personal announcements”. Or where to get a job, buy a car or a house. It had it all.

Memories of being a paper boys or girls or waiting for the delivery of the Saturday Pink, so that dads could check the football results for the pools.

Or what about the times we featured in articles ourselves? The old school photos, the protests, the fashion shows and carnival pictures.

Yes, many of us could bring in our own stories to this project.

But the stories that most of our group could relate to were those concerning the Locarno Ballroom, from its initial opening, to its eventual transformation into the Central Library.

Many of us were teenagers in the 60s, our time of fun and freedom. We recalled the dance nights, the music of Cliff or Elvis, or the Liverpool sounds of the Beatles or Gerry and the Pacemakers.

Yes -this was the place to meet, fall in and out of love, or just to celebrate!

Girls with layers of net underskirts beneath circular skirts, or the Teddy Boys: smooth dressers with Bryl-Creamed Das, and later on the Mods and Rockers.

And of course the dash for the last bus home!

Arts Gym Shine On

Putting together those memories into stories, and acting them out has been fun and sometimes challenging. We’ve taken off our rose-tinted glasses to take a look at the prejudices and inequalities based on race and creed, as well as those faced by women.

But now for the good news: It turns out our performance space has been shifted to the reception area – so no more cold concrete. Instead, there’s the feel of a welcoming space.

And the first script run-through proves a great starting point for this work-in-progress.
So with the first rehearsal coming up in the next few weeks, the show is on!

When we put on the 60s music, the room becomes alive. For five days in July, the reception of the CET Building will be ours.

We are “Shine-On” – and we will!

“That’ll be the day”

For more information about City Final and Read All About It and to book tickets, click here.