Artist(s): Katie Storer with Bristol Old Vic Young Company / Melksham Oak Community School
Client: Land East of Melksham Consortium
The project forms the final part of the public art strategy produced by Ginkgo Projects to develop a unique sense of place and identity in the new development on the Land East of Melksham.
For the final stage of the project Ginkgo has instigated a collaboration between Melksham Oak Community School and Bristol Old Vic Young Company to produce a performance inspired by the history, stories and landscape of Melksham. Directed by Katie Storer, the piece is a creative collective effort by young people aged 11-14.
The project aims to explore new ways of working with Young People across two locations using the same starting points as a creative catalyst. It aims to raise aspirations, understanding of the theatre sector and to develop cultural capital in Young People across Melksham.
The Tracks has involved three and a half months of casting workshops, rehearsals and visits to the Bristol Old Vic and Pound Arts centre in Wiltshire, where the Melksham group were given a tour of the arts facility and participated in a workshop on ‘improvisation and non-verbal communication’ and ‘the use of space’ in dramatic theatre to develop skills for their final piece. Storer also ran a careers workshop with the group, equipping the Young People with skills for a career in the arts and beyond, and instilling in them the importance of community and support networks.
The project will come to a head with the performance of the theatrical piece devised by the group on the 1st April 2017 at Melksham Oak Community School. In front of friends, family and guests of Ginkgo Projects, the Young People of Melksham Oak will reveal the result of their creative collaboration with the Bristol Old Vic Young Company. After the performance, a film of the piece, edited by the Bristol Old Vic, will be distributed to the local community.
Titled ‘The Tracks’, the piece is framed as a festival of celebration; the story performed is the lasting legacy of a fictional town, with all it’s quirks and oddities. The immersive performance will guide the audience through the town’s journey that changed it’s community from a one of fear and monochrome colours (inspired by the atmospheric, dilapidated old barn on Melksham Oak School premises) to a town of community, colour and positive change (inspired by the community, history and identity of Melksham). Timely and apt for our current political climate, this performance is about embracing change and the positivity it can bring. It is a captivating tale of community, change, and colour.
The Young People of Melksham Oak Community School have moved beyond their usual social circles to produce an immersive, artistic experience for their audience. They have connected positively with like minded Young People from different areas and backgrounds; a sentiment echoed in the story of the performance piece which highlights the negative impacts of segregation and the beneficial changes new people can bring to a community. The commitment given by each Young Person, with the guidance of theatre professionals, has not only resulted in the production of an extraordinary piece of work, but equipped the Young People with the collaborative and creative skills needed to forge a career in the arts and beyond. They have continued to explore ideas of place and identity in Melksham in a vibrant and creative way.