We are under construction…

Under Construction

Wow. What a year 2014 has been! We’ve had our heads swimming in an exciting sea of planning after our performance at Square Chapel that we haven’t had a chance to update you all.

We had some incredible responses from audiences in Halifax, including a teacher from a school who came to see Secret Diaries in the afternoon:

“Interesting, well done and carefully put across. It was great to see a play which involved the issue of coming out aimed in a non-patronising way. I was so glad my students were able to see it and felt all identified with the characters, gay or straight.” - Sowerby Bridge High School

The Lord Mayor of Manchester had some wonderful things to say about us too:

Art with Heart works with young people using theatre and creative workshops to engage with them and to help break down prejudice and foster understanding. Inspiring young people while promoting diversity and instilling a passion for the arts is certain to improve the lives of everyone involved with Art with HeartLord Mayor of Manchester Councillor Naeem ul Hassan

Some young people in our audience also told us Secret Diaries helped them:

“Understand how gay people feel and we shouldn’t judge them”

“The effect of this occurring in real life, and what to do if you’re in that situation”

“The workshop helped me to understand some cases of my life”

We are currently working towards Secret Diaries on tour, and there will be so much to talk about, we decided that it was high time we smartened up our website, so we’re working towards something pretty fancy and we cannot wait!

So, at the moment follow us on twitter @artwith_heart or on our facebook page /weareartwithheart for updates and we’ll see you soon!

Rachel in a box

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Our new year updates!

SECRET DIARIES announced as winner of 'Theatre Production of the Year 2013'

SECRET DIARIES announced as winner of ‘Theatre Production of the Year 2013′

We should start by saying HAPPY 2014 and THANK YOU to everyone who voted for us in these awards, we cannot believe we beat giants Wicked an The Pride to the top spot. We cannot thank you enough.

Today marks one month until the performance of Secret Diaries at Square Chapel. Please do book your tickets in advance from Squarechapel

We have SO much to catch up on to blog so we’ll start from when we went to visit one of the youth groups at LGBT youth north west who told us some shocking and heart warming tales of how they have experienced both homophobia and support. We asked them, if they had the chance, what would they say to some of those bullies. One that stuck in my mind was:

“Love is love, no matter what their gender is”

We hope to carry that through our work. We also asked them what advice they would give to others who are coming out, and to those who are:

“Always stay true to yourself, no matter what they say”, “Tell yourself first”, “Expect a mixed reaction”, “People might surprise you”, “Be proud of who you are”

It was fantastic to spend some time with them and to listen, something which we often don’t get a lot of time to do, but LGBT Youth North West work hard to give these young people a safe space to talk, to listen, and to ask questions.

We then went to Newall Green High School and spoke to some teachers about how they deal with homophobia. The school has been highlighted as one of the most active in Manchester to challenge homophobia and so we wanted to know what advice we could take from them to pass onto other schools. The sentence that came up time and time again was, communication is the key, we have regular meetings and help each other help the students

We’ve also just confirmed that we will be working with the brilliant Co-operative Academy of Manchester to work with them on Secret Diaries and also our schools workshop and education pack which the brilliant Tamzin Forster is currently illustrating for us!

We then were extremely fortunate to spend a week developing the workshop and education pack with Chris Cooper from Big Brum Theatre Company in a very specific Bondian framework. It was an incredible week and set us up for our first week of rehearsals before Christmas. One of our actors said 

“This work we’ve done this week will change the way I approach my practice forever. It’s been an incredible week!”

And it was! The company are geared up and ready to come back together after our Christmas break after having the best Christmas gift of all, our award for Theatre Production of the Year!

We’ve had production, design, bsl translation, publicity and education meetings among all the excitement and cannot wait for you all to see the performance. Please book your tickets here: Squarechapel and whilst the page is loading, crank up the volume and get a load of this…

 

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Don’t assume and LGBT Youth North West

Dont-assume-campaign

Tomorrow I’m going to have some time with the youth group at LGBT Youth North West; an organisation close to our hearts who have helped us a lot. Earlier this year we did some work with them to develop SECRET DIARIES and tomorrow evening will follow on from that. The young people are incredible, the staff and volunteers are dedicated and together they are helping to make a change to lives.

Along with lots of youth services, they look to the public to make donations, especially after all the cuts. We have been lucky enough to see them in action and believe us, they are a worthwhile organisation to donate to. They also run a campaign which I cannot express he importance of called ‘Don’t assume…’ – and lets face it, we make assumptions about people, but it is important to know the impact of those assumptions. The importance of this was highlighted for me last week when I met someone who DIDN’T assume, which is SO rare. After asking if I had a partner (no mention of gender…), I replied “yes, I’ve been with my girlfriend for nearly 4 years” and to my surprise she became the first person EVER to follow this up with: “So, are you gay or bi?”. Blimey. I always prepare myself for the ‘… but I’m not gay, I’m bisexual which means…’ but I didn’t need to. Here was a 26 year old nurse ASKING me, not ASSUMING. I took a deep breath and I could feel the tension in my shoulders ready to answer questions or defend my sexuality, just fall away; it was so refreshing! I said to her that it was wonderful that she asked me rather than assuming, as most people do and she told me that she thought it was important not to assume, and she is SO right.

I’m proud to say that we’re working with LGBT Youth North West who are doing everything they can to ensure more and more people don’t assume, and for that they need your help. Follow their social networking pages, champion their work, request for them to come and do some training where you are and also help them function and continue their work by donating to them here: https://localgiving.com/charity/lgbtyouth?utm_source=charity_10528&utm_medium=syndication&utm_campaign=badge&utm_content=badge

We’re really looking forward to talking to the youth group who will be helping us shape our education work with SECRET DIARIES so we’ll blog about it afterwards so watch out…

www.lgbtyouthnorthwest.org.uk

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We love Mcr, flyers, posters, video and growing excitement!

We love Mcr

We have exciting news! The Lord Mayor of Manchester’s charity ‘We love MCR’ have given us some funding to deliver workshops in an academy school! We’re really proud and excited!

Today has been a brilliant! Not only are we excited about our extra work with the Lord Mayor but the flyers made it to Square Chapel, the posters are coming tomorrow and I’ve been editing a promo SECRET DIARIES video…

So much is happening and I feel so excited. We can’t wait to start challenging homophobia in schools and as I added some quotes we’ve collected from reviewers and audience members from our development performances to the video I felt my heart swell with pride. We have been surrounded by such a huge amount of positive support for SECRET DIARIES so thank you to everyone who has supported us; audience, young people, mentors, company members, organisations, funders, bloggers, sharers and retweeters – THANK YOU!

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Rachel Moorhouse on working with Big Brum…

photo

Rachel Moorhouse – Secret Diaries Director

There aren’t many things that can get me out of bed at 4.45am on a rainy Monday morning. However, the prospect of going to see the wonderful Big Brum Theatre Company perform their new piece ‘Touched’ in Birmingham, has myself and the rest of the ‘Secret Diaries’ team, (bar a poorly Jen) bolting down the M6 before sunrise. 

We arrive at 8.30am where we are greeted by the lovely Chris Cooper, Artistic Director of Big Brum, who leads us into the space. 

I have never seen Big Brum in action before, having only watched video footage of their work. As soon as the company step onto the stage to introduce themselves and begin to discuss what we are about to see, I’m hooked, as are the rest of the audience – 120 lively students who thought they were in for an easy morning.

Big Brum, make it clear to their captivated audience that the next few hours are not just about fun, they expect the students to work too. And when they say work, they mean work. Big Brum ask the audience to explore ‘What it means to be human?’. They ask the students bold questions such as ‘What would you die for?’. It’s challenging for the pupils, however this is what I love about Big Brum’s approach – they never underestimate the intelligence, integrity or insight of young people. They ask complex questions and treat their young audiences with respect, and in return they are given respect.

‘Touched’ is a fantastic new piece of drama, which warrants response and discussion and lends itself well as stimulus for a fulfilling workshop. The Big Brum team really are some of the most skilled facilitators I have seen, and over the space of an hour they create an environment which is open, inclusive, challenging and stimulating. Their approach appears effortless,  and yet the responses they evoke from the young people are remarkable. 

After the workshop we spend the afternoon with Chris who gives us a little more insight into Big Brum’s processes. We also start to discuss plans for our workshops with Chris in December, looking at ways to approach ‘Secret Diaries’. I leave feeling focused and inspired. The excitement has started to kick in.

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Michael Forrest on Big Brum visit…

Mike Forrest headshot

A full day with Chris Cooper, Artistic Director of Big Brum Theatre after a 5am start chauffeured by pocket dynamo Sarah Emmott should have equaled a long tiring day, but instead we had a powerful piece of drama, ‘Touched’ and a highly motivating & informative post-performance workshop facilitated superbly by Big Brum. Never condescending, always challenging and supportive.

 

I look forward with renewed vigour and confidence to assisting in the further development of Art with Heart’s ‘Secret Diaries’ with Chris’s mentoring, Rachel’s subtle direction and Sarah’s words.

The day flew, even without the triple choc cookies (which were in my rider). I shall have words with my agent…

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Sarah Emmott in Brum…

SARAH_0091Sarah Emmott (plays Hayley) on our trip to Birmingham to work with Big Brum…

On Monday we went to Birmingham to see the incredible ‘Big Brum’ (www.bigbrum.org.uk) and their current programme ‘Touched’ in action.

We were able to see a performance, a workshop and then have our own workshop as a company in the afternoon. It’s been a while since I’d seen Chris Cooper (Big Brum’s AD, playwright and director of ‘Touched’), years ago he directed me in his play ‘Promise’ at The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry. It was a fantastic experience and I feel as though that job at The Belgrade really allowed me to grow and carve my skills as an actor. It was great to be back working with him.

Seeing Big Brum working was inspiring. We sat at the back amongst the year 10’s and it was wonderful to see them interacting with Chris’ new play ‘Touched’. The response was incredible and resonated so loudly within them. The Big Brum team are incredible and I felt so lucky to watch them at work.

We were able to observe the workshop, they were so engrossed in the work that they welcomed us openly into a discussion and opportunity to explore. Each group had ideas pouring into the space, some of which were incredibly poetic. One that has really stuck with me was from a girl talking about the protagonist breaking away from her past:

“It’s because her heart has broken down, it’s crying, crying out, but you can’t see that because the outside of us is always a front”

And she’s right. It is. Even when we cry we never expel everything we want to. We can’t, otherwise we’d break. That one sentence will stay with me for various reasons both creatively and personally.

The day felt like the start of a very special, personal and collective discovery which I am so excited to be part of I smiled all the way back to Manchester. I can’t wait to continue exploring the work with Chris and the rest of the company.

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