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Credit - Nicola Young

Making City Final

With rehearsals for City Final now underway, the cast and creatives have been busy researching the historical context for their stories, as well as looking into some of the practical aspects of putting on the show.

In this series of interviews, each of the groups involved talks more about the things that they’ve found interesting or inspiring during the rehearsal process, and any questions that their work has thrown up. Read what they had to say below, and keep checking back to this page for regular updates.

Read All About It – City Final Update – 19/06/18

ABBY and PATRICK (Designers)

Abby and I have had a great week doing costume fittings with the groups, sorting out furniture and props with Stage Management and working out the design for the end with Hannah.

We are very grateful to the performers who brought in their own costumes and ideas. I think we are ending up with some great costumes.

The highlight is probably the Maggie Thatcher puppet for MYT.

Lots to do but all very exciting!

ARTS GYMNASIUMSHINE ON

I love how hard everyone is working to learn their lines and attend extra rehearsals to get things done.

It’s been interesting to mark out the floor in Patrick and comprehend just how BIG the lobby space actually is.

ARTS GYMNASIUMREACHING OUT & WILLENAHLL

Love how much the group members have engaged with their characters and taken the time to create the backstory. They’ve got a real sense of where/who they are before/during/after their scenes.

It’s interesting how some participants improvise with their lines so that each run we do is slightly different.

ASIAN YOUTH THEATRE

The costume fitting went very well! We were done in less than two hours! World record. They looked great!

Some Universal Questions. Do we have to have a problem to every solution? Why does Friday seem so far away when its Monday and Monday seem so close when its Friday?

BLACK YOUTH THEATRE

Had a really good session with Strictly Arts and created some really good material… have our script, now it’s time to unite it and bring it to life for real!

Finally being able to rehearse… no more bank holidays or anything else to get in the way of rehearsals anymore! If it wasn’t for bank holidays we’d be much further on in the process.

CANLEY YOUTH THEATRE

We have stuff going on finally!

We now have a workable and almost complete script. So everyone was very interested last Tuesday to get stuck in and make sure the show was blocked.

We tried to work out where the audience would be standing and what that meant for our acting and the practicalities of playing in the round.

Next week we’re going to meet with the designers and start to make our set look like our own Coventry, with loads of cardboard and takeaway packaging!

HANNAH (Producer)

Final strait!

Getting into the building on Monday for Fit Up and great to see the groups now throwing themselves into rehearsals and costume fittings.

I know everyone feels up against it with time, but I have no doubt all the groups will absolutely bring it.

JENNIFER (Writer)

I LOVE seeing the continuing development and interpretation of the materials and ideas.

When they convert the building into a hotel, will there be the Belgrade Suite?

OLA (Dramaturg)

I’m loving the ambition, scale and vision for this piece.

Really looking forward to seeing everyone in the building and watching the Belgrade takeover! It’s going to be magic.

SHANAZ (Digital Artist)

Love the ending, really liked the BYT work and how it’s shaping up, we did some filming Mon 4th June.

Why does time seem to speed up the closer you get to a deadline!?

Strictly Arts (Digital Artist)

We liked seeing how the groups are developing.

We have found it interesting how unique and diverse all of the various stories are.

What do we all aspire to achieve from this entire City Final project?

Read All About It – City Final Update – 17/05/18

ASIAN YOUTH THEATRE

What a week! I feel like we need understudies! This is when it starts getting stressful…

BLACK YOUTH THEATRE

This week we’ve been trying to make casting decisions so that people can get their costumes sorted out before we start filming at the end of the month. I wish we had more time but it seems like time’s not something on my side today! Wish I could be chilling on a beach somewhere with a Pina Colada…

HANNAH (Producer)

It’s been great to see the scripts coming in and the positive response from the groups! Looking forward to seeing how it all comes together as all the remaining ones roll in too. There’s a lot to fit in as we enter the final months of the project so lots of juggling and…… bad luck everyone, expect yet more juicy emails from me!

JENNIFER (Writer)

I’m amazed at how the stories all continue to grow and expand theatrically, and how the personalities of each group comes through in their different approaches. What I find interesting is how the audience’s experiences will be shaped depending on which route they take and the order in which they experience the performances. Will people come see it again in order to take another route?

MIDDLE YOUTH THEATRE

MYT very much enjoyed reading the new script. They particularly liked a completely new, ‘spotlight’, scene Jennifer had written, set in a supermarket and reflecting on the tensions between striking and working families. They were keen for the experiences of children to be reflected somewhere in the piece.

We also learned chants from the miners’ strike and experimented with a moment of stillness erupting into violence by working on ‘throwing’ a bottle (movement). Hoping it might give us something useful for performance. Looking forward to final drafts and our session with Strictly Arts!

OLA (dramaturg)

I’m really excited by the latest drafts, and it’s time for me to get fully immersed and specific about the text and the action – so my thinking head is on!
I’m interested to see how all the elements will blend and complement each other – text, movement, environment, sound, light, digital costume and design.
From now on, timing each of the scenes is going to be really important.

SHINE ON

This week Shine On really enjoyed working with Jonathan from Strictly Arts, who played the piano during the Samuel and Shirley scene. It really worked well to create the atmosphere – the cast were commenting on how effective it was and how moving it was. This is making us think that we could perhaps use a more classical piece of music – or something without lyrics – that would work really well.

It was also interesting thinking about the physical subtleties of showing the prejudice of the time that might have existed at the Locarno during the colour ban.

Questions that still need answering are about where the audience will fit in. Where are we going to put them to begin the scene? How are we going to move from the opening scene in the foyer with all of the audience groups to creating the Locarno ballroom?

WILLENHALL

This week, we’ve been really enjoying working from the new script and improvising the characters in the press conference. The cast are really getting into the feeling of the scene now, and looking at intentions.

It’s been interesting exploring the relationship between Calthorpe and Ridley, unpicking the complexities of it, and introducing the idea of an animal rights protestor being in the scene too.

Read All About It – City Final Update – 03/05/18

ASIAN YOUTH THEATRE

Reena and Josh.

What did you like?

R: We like reflecting on the progress we have made and celebrating the fact that we are ahead.
J: The group have been working hard, and we’re proud of them.

What have you found interesting?

R: We have found discovering the dimensions of our characters interesting by playing with intentions.
J: How in-depth the characters are becoming, and how much everyone is researching and building.

What question would you like to an answer too?

R: Will everyone show up on the night?
J: Will everyone manage not to corpse onstage?

BLACK YOUTH THEATRE

What did you like?

It was nice playing around with our opening scene to see how it can or could work… but we still need to work on drawing the audience’s attention to where we want it. #FunTimesAhead

CANLEY

What did you like?

This week was a great way to explore the themes of our piece. Myself and Jennifer were lucky enough to meet Reem from Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre who filled us in on some simple refugee information and some people and sources we could use in our further research. Afterwards at the session that evening the group discussed the use of a puppet further and played with ‘the Indian prince’ manipulating him and other objects to learn the basics of puppetry.

Ola then visited the group and we all had a conversation about how the young people would react if the boy fell from the sky today. A great way to get a truthful and raw account of how young people see the situation. It also opened up how much was known by the young people about the truth. Everyone was quick to say they’d check sources, maybe even not believe it or be introduced to the story by an opinion or rumour at school. Lots of food for thought!

HANNAH (producer)

What did you like?

We’re getting there, slowly but surely so well done everyone!

What have you found interesting?

I’m interested to see how we can hear the voices of refugees in the Canley show, but also how we can offer a richer, meaningful ongoing experience for those who surrender their stories.

What question would you like to an answer too?

How do we get each of the groups to Red Lane for one session in June for fitting?

JENNIFER (writer)

What did you like?

The layers of complexity that are coming through as the performers explore their characters and narratives.

What have you found interesting?

The theatrical solutions that are solving practical problems.

What question would you like to an answer to?

I wonder if the ghosts of the CET building will join in during the performances?

OLA (dramaturg)

What did you like?

I really enjoyed spending an evening with the Canley group, and listening to their thoughts and views about the news…some love it and some don’t! Great food for thought.

What have you found interesting?

The design meeting was really interesting and exciting to see the show moving into another phase – ideas being realised and crystallizing….others stubbornly remaining in the ether.

What question would you like to an answer to?

Have we got a selfie stick long enough for a full company photo?

SENIOR YOUTH THEATRE

This week we had the whole Belgrade to ourselves so asked the SYT route leaders to lead us on a tour around the building (pretending it was the CET). We also slotted in some of the scenarios and crafted what they might be. It gave the group a good chance to understand what the event might feel like to be within, and to shape their characters a bit more.

Read All About It – City Final Update – 27/04/18

BLACK YOUTH THEATRE

What did you like?

Having a lengthy amount of time in the building, being able to play and investigate!

What have you found interesting?

The amount that week took out of me… a few years ago I could have done a week like that standing on my head, but this week has taken a lot of energy out of me… I may not look it, but I’m definitely feeling older then I used to!

CANLEY YOUTH THEATRE

We’re excited by the new challenges we are facing. With puppets to learn how to use and a potential cardboard set to be made. We are ready for the weeks ahead! We now have our full structure, sections of script and lots of work to do!

HANNAH (producer)

What did you like?

The level of interaction between groups and the creative team, sharing ideas and research.

What have you found interesting?

A proposition to use a zoning process when audiences come in to the lobby at the beginning of the show to ensure people are more or less with those who are going on the same route, and thereby starting promptly.

What question would you like an answer to?

What happens on the accessible route, particularly in relation to the space that transmits video from the other floors?

JENNIFER (writer)

What do you like?

Hearing groups laugh and sigh with recognition at something another group has shared during their performance. To know that some part of that performance spoke to them and moved them.

What have you found interesting?

That the more we dig into these 53 years in that building, the more that is revealed. Which is exciting and daunting in equal measure.

OLA (dramaturg)

This week I particularly enjoyed continuing to work on the project from the comfort of my home – warm, well-lit, no drafts, limited stairs and no puddles.
I found a couple of films about the CET, and really liked the description of the Newsroom – rows and rows of people hunched over typewriters – and the noise in that room – surrounded by another group of people charging around with lots and lots of pieces of paper – desperate to hit their deadline.

STRICTLY ARTS (Belgrade Springboard Company supporting the groups with physical theatre training)

What did you like?

Strictly Arts are very pleased to have been able to work with the various CET groups this week, and it was a great insight into the stories and development which has taken place so far. Our Assistant Producer, Jonathan Grant particularly enjoyed playing the piano for Shine On, and our Artistic Director, Corey Campbell liked the vision that was being collectively created throughout the groups.

What have you found interesting?

We have found all of the CET groups interesting how they have been able to really submerge themselves into the characters they have created, and we were especially impressed with Shine On who were very entertaining and ambitious in their approach.

Read All About It – City Final Update – 17/04/18

ASIAN YOUTH THEATRE

What did you like?

1. We liked story time and sharing snippets of our life. We liked singing! Liked the fact that we got on and all attended.
2. We found 80s secret fashion codes very interesting.

HANNAH (producer)

What did you like?

Finally having all the groups in the space together, and seeing how invested each of them are now.

What have you found interesting?

Seeing how the pieces are developing now we have had a chance to test them in the space.

What question would you like an answer to (from anyone…including the universe and your God)?

How all the routes work together.

OLA (dramaturg)

What did you like?

I loved the first stagger-throughs on Friday and encountering the work of all the groups for the first time – and getting a sense of how powerful the pieces already are.

SENIOR YOUTH THEATRE

What did you like?

We enjoyed using the CET building and exploring the routes. Testing out different scenarios. We enjoyed looking more deeply at characters and doing some hot seating. Hearing the youth groups speak passionately about their ideas in the space, and seeing little glimpses of what their work might look like.

What have you found interesting?

The whole three days was interesting! Discovering what you can and can’t do whilst being route leaders and what it’s like to have an audience to take around the building. Finding out more about what the other groups are doing. Seeing it slot together (in a scratchy kind of way) and getting a better understanding of what the overall experience of it is, as well as what SYT’s role in that is.

What question would you like an answer to?

How is it all going to work logistically? What will the ‘ambient music’ be? We need to know how loud it will be, etc to make sure we’re not competing with this with our own texts/live music.

ARTS GYMNASIUMSHINE ON

What did you like?

Puppetry of costumes to create ghosts of Locarno past.

What have you found interesting?

Getting the group to exchange character roles and play around with ideas.

What question would you like an answer to?

We have some questions about the space, particularly with regards to the raised platforms in the lobby, as the way in which we engage with people in the space will be determined by who can access what.

ARTS GYMNASIUMREACHING OUT

What did you like?

The group starting to appreciate the nature of what immersive theatre is and the challenges of working with an active audience- this will help shape the piece.

What have you found interesting?

Listening to Patrick/Abbey & Arun (design team). It’s a great opportunity to work in a mix of video installation, staged rooms and a final performance.

What question would you like an answer to?

We still have questions around how we can engage an audience in the piece and then move them on quickly in a short space of time.

ARTS GYMNASIUMWILLENHALL

What did you like?

The casting of this small piece feels right and we’ve arrived at this quickly.

What have you found interesting?

There have been some challenges for actors with creating a character not based on their own opinions/actions.