Productions & Projects
Youth Theatre; NT Connections & Promenart
“This play does not come with a blueprint or a set of instructions for staging. As you will see, there are no distinct stage directions and no markings in the margin to indicate who says what. The text printed here is rather intended to be a piece of verbal storytelling, left bare to invite different visual and theatrical interpretations. The words can be spoken by any number of actors, from one to one hundred. The lines may be altered, where appropriate, to suit the dialect of the performers. And the staging can be as simple or elaborate as you like. My only request is that some things are left to the audience’s imagination.”
In 2015, we first entered into partnership with Blackpool Grand Theatre to develop a new kind of Youth Theatre in the town; it was the 21st year of NT Connections, the National Theatre’s flagship Young People’s programme that encourages those aged 14-19 to perform socially engaged texts that are written especially for them.
Each year there are 10 scripts to choose from and we have been lucky to have been a part of this inspiring programme for 3-years now; in 2016 we worked with local young people to create our production of ‘Blackout’ by Davey Anderson, one of our Young Company (GYC) created a film of this which you can see here in full.
In 2017 we developed our version of ‘Zero for the Young Dudes’ which was later performed as part of a Festival at The Lowry and in 2019 we worked on Dawn King’s ‘Salt’ with over 20 young people who went on to be perform in York.
We love this programme and feels it represents the best possible start for young performers interested in flexing their theatre-making skills. We hope to be able to create more brilliant theatre with young people soon.
Also included here are some images from our pop-up performance of ‘Mobile Phone Show’ by Jim Cartwright which we developed in partnership with House of Wingz as part of a commission by LeftCoast in 2014. This was created in a one-week and performed in The Winter Gardens, The Oracle and at The Grand Theatre.
Syrian Refugee Project
“They came to the UK, to a new life with new people. It was difficult and different! Language, culture and the houses. It was really hard to adjust. The people though were very kind, helpful and friendly…Now almost everything is good; she still misses her country…her dreams that were once destroyed are still in her heart ”
In early 2019, we were commissioned by Lancashire County Council Resettlement Programme to run a 10-week creative project with Syrian Refugee women and their children. Each week we met for 2-hours and used games and creative activities to develop new stories.
The result was their book ‘Darkness & Lightness’ which features the groups’ stories and drawings. It is a thing of beauty but not without moments of shadow too.
St George & The Dragon
“As usual for TESP, I loved it. It was my favourite yet. The use of the umbrellas for the dragon was so creative and clever, script was relevant to present day and strong without being preachy and the company really entertained us, such a great effort and outcome and they looked like they had a great time and enjoyed themselves. Lovely community, happy energy – we need this in our lives!”
Our spring 2019 production was St George & The Dragon, a contemporary street theatre performance by our Community Theatre Company; Th’ESPs which played at various locations across Blackpool, Fylde & Wyre over Easter and St George’s Day.
Our version retold the original fairy-tale as well as used traditional Mummer’s style street theatre to make the most of some well-known British traditions but we also considered how the story has come to be so popular; who exactly was St George? What is his legacy today? To what extent is the nationalist rhetoric surrounding his story useful? Has this changed in the last few years as we have engaged in the Brexit journey? At it’s heart though, was a simple tale of knights (think Monty Python), fair maidens and a puppet dragon.
Around 30-minutes in length, 9 performers brought this story to life for all ages. It was free to attend.
We are grateful to The Big Lottery for their support of this project.
These images were taken by CJGriffiths Photography, Baz Garrod, Elizabeth Gomme and Tim Lince.
“For me, it was everything a live piece of theatre should be; funny, thought-provoking, interactive and immersive. It took risks and chances and we all went along for the pleasurable ride. Hats off to the entire bunch of Th’ESPs!”
This piece of theatre featured our community theatre company Th’ESPs; an ensemble cast of 15 local players who, through poetry, puppetry, singing and storytelling, retold a selection of well-known tales in surprising, funny and memorable ways.
Th’ESPs is a group of creative-minded adults who come together to learn more about different theatre techniques and to put their skills into practice. Directed by Melanie Whitehead and supported by Jo Cassidy, Sandgrown Tails was conceived, devised, written, adapted and performed by the company.
We had mermaids, man-eating lions and men dressed up like your nan plus everything else in between that gets washed up on Blackpool’s shores and we played six shows in the Attic at Blackpool Pleasure Beach 3-5 August 2018.
We are grateful to The Big Lottery for their support of this project.
These images were taken by CJGriffiths Photography.
The Diabolical Mr Punch
“It’s like Tim Burton meets Mighty Boosh – for kids!”
A fully-interactive puppet and live performer show that includes music, projection and lighting, lasts around 20-minutes and is suitable for all ages.
Initially this piece was supported by LeftCoast and involved the creative team; Matthew Forbes (War Horse, Les Enfants Terrible) Monica Corder (Star Wars Episode VII, The Lion King), Rachel Cullen (Edinburgh Fringe, Traverse), Sophie Johannot (Culture Liverpool, Big House Events) and Melanie Whitehead when it premiered as part of Blackpool’s Showzam Festival 2016.
A special site-specific version played as part of Nottingham’s first ever Puppetry Festival in March 2018.
We are currently looking for other local performance opportunities at festivals, in schools or at events.
The Nixies of Oak Pool
“If you haven’t seen a Nixie before (which is not so surprising because these days, sightings are very, very rare indeed) they are awfully difficult to describe.”
A brand new story which has been commissioned by Blackpool Libraries to be performed in the brilliant Save Our Stories Rescue Ship for young people at events and festivals in the Blackpool area and beyond.
This interactive story uses lights, puppetry, projection and music to retell how the illuminations came about. It premiered at Blackpool’s Annual Wordpool Family Day Festival in July 2018 in the beautiful Stanley Park.
Watch this space for where we go next….
Better to Have Loved...?
“I thought about (it) for days after watching, and will think about again and again. The perfect balance of a good, well written narrative and strong, vital warning of the dangers attached to addiction. It was realisation, it was desperation, and it was hope. Everyone should see it. Everyone.”
An intense two-performer play that uses real-life events and integrated video footage to detail the impact of addiction on close relationships.
Created in response to my own experiences of the impact of heroin abuse; the play was produced in August 2015 with two professional actors and a director of great acclaim plus sound artist, video artist and stage-management on graduate placement from Blackpool College. Support was received from Arts Council England, Blackpool Central Library, and friends and family via Kickstarter crowdfunding. The majority of audiences who saw the piece came through recovery agencies via Blackpool Council Public Health Team as either professionals, recovering addicts or family and friends of those in recovery.
Initial conversations with producers wishing to develop the piece as a film were promising, we are currently considering further funding for the piece to tour via Arts for Health networks.
“The greatest historical WAG in theatre; a confident, more emotionally imbued mirror of Shakespeare’s broad stroke harridan Lady Macbeth”
Based on the largely untold story of Lady Macbeth’s demise, a one-woman performance written in ten parts and performed in a modern setting.
Initially written in 2012, I worked one-to-one with a third year Acting student at Blackpool & Fylde College to develop this one woman show for three performances at the College theatre and then for two performances at Greater Manchester Fringe Festival in July 2015.
The Pendle Witch Project
A new play devised by our Community Theatre company based on the stories of the Pendle Witch trials. This piece used drama, puppetry and music to retell one of Lancashire’s best-known stories.
The Pendle Witch Project was devised wholly by company participants over a period of 10-weeks to discover and retell the parts of the story that spoke to the group, it was then honed to develop a performance that we felt audiences would enjoy and feel was still relevant.
The play was performed in April 2017 at Palatine Library, Central Library and Beaverbrooks House Young Carers Centre, all in Blackpool.
The community theatre company is a group of adults who meet on a weekly basis to learn more about different theatre techniques and to put their skills into practice. This company has now evolved to become Th’ESPs.
Sadly one of our earliest members, Marjory Nye passed away in February 2018, always a strong advocate for the power of community activity, we were blessed to share some great moments with her.
These images have been taken by CJGriffiths Photography