This work, with teenagers experiencing rural isolation and low cultural engagement, has taken place across eight workshops with 41 young people from Albany PRU, The Meet Up, The Mix, and County Upper School. Writers James McDermott and Atiha Sen Gupta created a series of monologues inspired by the young people. Scripts were used to create a radio play by West Suffolk College students, using the voices of Performing Arts students.
To develop their learning around creating a radio play, 80 students took part in workshops with actors Alix Dunmore and Dan Starkey. Students also took part in further workshops with Atiha and James, to explore the development and themes of the scripts.
Now completed, the audio-visual monologues performed by students from West Suffolk College, Conservatoire EAST, were showcased at the Beyond Walls Festival in June 2021 at Theatre Royal over a period of three days. The film was also shared via the Conservatoire EAST website and High Tide Festival 2021 to audiences.
“When starting out on the Big Skies project, I never realised what impact it would have on me as an artist, from the first workshops I could see how important the young people’s stories were and how their views of where they lived needed to be heard.
When the wonderful scriptwriters then turned these pieces into monologues, I could not wait to get started bringing these to life. Then… COVID-19 hit! and the tables turned and we were now embarking on a new journey with these wonderful pieces – we were going to take them digital. It was something I had never directed before but during the process, the pieces started to come into their own even more so than if they were performed live. They resonated on a different level, the words ‘Big Skies’ meant so much more to all that had the pleasure of working on the project. Big Skies were all we had in the isolated world we were now living in.
The project touched so many people, and it was a pleasure to direct and work on.”
Katie Wright, Big Skies Director