Theatre Royal Community Company formed as a direct response to individual community members that had previously accessed Theatre Royal Outreach Workshops and asked ‘when can we do more…’.
Participants had engaged with theatre making skills including: writing for performance, creative expression, photography and film making between 2016 – 2018. They had watched many productions and volunteered at Theatre Royal as well as participating in existing Theatre Royal opportunities wherever possible. Yet they still felt they had more to give the theatre and their community and wanted more opportunity to do so.
Following a successful application to National Lottery and the hire of Trinity Methodist Church hall for weekly sessions, Associate Artists Danusia Iwaszko and Lucinda Meredith and volunteer Howard Saddler began weekly sessions to explore skills development and performance technique with the knowledge that this group would be performing on Theatre Royal stage in 2019 during the 200th anniversary year. A title was set for this performance; The More Things Change, based on the French saying plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
The group were tasked to explore periods in the theatre and town’s history; to look for interesting events and characters that may inspire a narrative for this new performance. Supported by Clare Barry, Theatre Royal’s Heritage Officer, and trips to the Record Office and Library, the group have begun to develop characters and themes for the story it will tell in June 2019. Set in 50 year intervals: 2019, 1969, 1919, 1869 and 1819, the new performance will explore a range of social issues including: homelessness, rights of women, domestic violence, mental health, alcohol and substance abuse and how these have changed or not changed during the past 200 years in Bury St Edmunds. The group has a committed core of performers who turn up to regularly to workshops each week eager to participate and play with ideas and a further group who get involved when they can to support the work and the aims of the group.
What Danusia thinks is special about this group is the bringing together of the groups in Bury with whom we have worked before. And now we have the opportunity to create an entirely original piece of work based upon the participants’ life experiences and on the research. The piece will not only have spoken word but music, dance and original songs. It’s an exciting project with a lovely group of people.