Common Chorus Theatre

Community Writers Wanted (near Leeds) – ‘The Lonely Society’

Community Writers Wanted in Leeds
‘The Lonely Society’ by Common Chorus Theatre
https://commonchorus.co.uk/the-lonely-society

For the next phase of our project ‘The Lonely Society’ Common Chorus theatre company are creating a script for a new community play that will explore the mental health impacts of social isolation and loneliness. We think that there is an important story to tell about how isolation impacts people’s wellbeing, and a surprising story to tell about how widespread the problem can be.

We are searching for people that understand this from their own life experience and are willing to volunteer to help us write a new short play about it. We are interested in hearing from anyone whose life has been affected, this could include;

  • People who have retired or are currently planning retirement
  • Adults living with a learning disability
  • People of working age with a disability or chronic illness that impedes their ability to work
  • People who care for someone with a chronic illness or disability
  • Young adults living away from their families
  • People who identify as LGBTQ+

Perhaps you have a unique perspective not listed above? Either way, if you have a story to tell about the mental health impacts of social isolation that you think others should hear, we would love to hear from you. You don’t need to have previous experience to take part, although those with an amateur interest in writing are very welcome.

Sessions will be a Holy Trinity Church in Meanwood, Leeds on Saturday afternoons between 1.30pm – 4pm from 22nd September – 3rd November + 17th November 2018.

This project has been planned with disability access in mind. All spaces are accessible and there is a small fund to help with transport costs for those who could not otherwise attend.

To get involved please express your interest before the end of Fri 7th September via to our online sign up form:

https://goo.gl/forms/rQDx7yTmzu5e6lYb2

Or if you prefer you can also call Simon on 07817649699.

We only have limited places so we may select the strongest candidates if we receive more expressions of interest that we can accommodate.

You can find out more about The Lonely Society project on our web site:

https://commonchorus.co.uk/the-lonely-society-more-information/

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Writer Required for New Community Short Play – Leeds

Writer Required for New Community Short Play – Leeds
‘The Lonely Society’ by Common Chorus Theatre
www.commonchorus.co.uk

Common Chorus:
We are a Leeds based theatre company who bring together people from different walks of life to enjoy stories that should be heard. Participation fuels our community theatre shows and distinguished touring productions with professional actors.

The Role:
For our next project, The Lonely Society, we will be exploring stories about the mental health impacts of social isolation and loneliness. We are looking for a writer with skills and experience in spoken word and / or verbal storytelling to help us create a storytelling performance script in collaboration with community participants. The writer will work alongside director Simon Brewis and dramaturge Dick Bonham to lead a series of workshops engaging community participants in the creative process. The writer will take a lead in producing a polished 30-40 minute performance script that reflects and develops the work of the group.

Job Specification and essential information:

  • Should ideally be based in the Leeds area and able to travel to Meanwood in Leeds for weekly workshops on Saturdays between 1pm – 4pm from 22nd September to the 3rd November 2018.
  • The final script must be accessible for performance by people with restricted mobility, hence the focus on spoken word or verbal storytelling.
  • Must have the ability and desire to make creatively ambitious work that engages community participants and collaborators.
  • Must have the ability to facilitate workshops.
  • Must have an understanding and experience of writing for theatre / performance.
  • There will be some planning and storyboarding meetings with the director and dramaturge as appropriate as well as workshop and writing time.
  • Deadline for creation of final script is 17th November 2018
  • The full fee including all expenses for the role is £2000 and you must be registered as self-employed.

To apply for the role please email Simon on simonmatthewbrewis@gmail.com before 5pm on Friday 17th August and include ‘Lonely Society Writer’ in the email title. Please include a CV and an extract of your previous work between 3 – 5 pages that showcases your appropriateness for the role.

If shortlisted candidates will be interviewed in the week commencing 20th August, although some flexibility will be accommodated if candidates are on summer holidays etc.

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The Lonely Society

Be part of making Common Chorus theatre company’s next show!

Our next project, The Lonely Society, will be about the mental and physical health impacts of loneliness and social isolation. We have the start of a story inspired by the experiences of someone we know:

‘Julia’s been forced to stop work. She’s surprised how lonely she is. What’s the point of a life where you don’t take part?

Then one day an oik in a red hoodie and a David Cameron mask reaches through the window and steals her purse. The police say she’s been targeted because she’s a “vulnerable person”. She hates being called that. She offers them more tea all the same. She really, really doesn’t want them to leave.’

We are looking for people to help us build Julia’s story. Many of us either have or are connected to people who have suffered the impacts of social isolation and loneliness. There are two ways you could be involved:

– This autumn we will work with 8 – 12 community writers who will weave personal experiences into our fictional story.
-Early in the New Year we will work with 16- 20 community performers to create a spoken performance of that for a public audience.

Later in 2019 our professional artist team will use this to develop an exciting new storytelling theatre show with live music that we will tour nationally. Preview showing at Interplay Theatre in the late spring / early summer.

To find out more and get involved click here.

Help support the project financially through our Crowdfunder Campaign here.

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If I Say Jump

First touring in Spring 2018, ‘If I Say Jump’ had great audiences and excellent reviews.  Things went so well that we are now planning a second tour for Summer 2019.

Common Chorus in association with Little Mighty
With skillful storytelling, playful comedy and an original soundtrack, this fast-paced new show charts a morally ambiguous quest for peace and wellbeing in a chaotic time.

Jenny’s a vicar. But she’s got problems. Her creepy ex-husband keeps sending her flowers – every day. The church hall is being renovated by a dodgy builder, who’s being investigated by the police. And her best friend Danny has turned up in the vestry with a gun.

Danny’s an addict. Nearly a year sober. But he’s still got anger issues. And he’s just had a fight with his best mate Benson. So when he turns to the church will Jenny be able to do the right thing? And does she even know what that is?

If I Say Jump confronts the unexpected consequences of the snap decisions we make when things get stressful. A contemporary western set in Barnsley, it’s for anyone who ever asked “why on earth did I just do that?”
Suitable for ages 12+

Reviews:

Always Time for Theatre – Five Stars! – “consistently funny throughout, Lynsey Jones and Richard Galloway prove themselves to be a brilliant and dynamic comedy duo”

On Stage – “strong performances and an engaging storytelling style, this piece makes for a solidly entertaining, inspiring and thoughtful evening at the theatre”.

Doncopolitan Magazine – If I Say Jump is a dramatic yet uplifting story that will have you on the edge of your seat and laughing at the same time”.

The Culture Vulture – “An absurdist two-hander comedy with a lot going on under the surface”

See the trailer:

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From A Wind of Change to If I Say Jump

The first quarter of 2018 is a somewhat crazy, and exceptionally important time for Common Chorus. By the end of March we will have produced the two most ambitious projects we have ever undertaken, and between them they represent the opposite ends of what I set the theatre company up to make.

The weekend of 16th / 17th of February saw us complete ‘A Wind of Change’; a large scale community theatre project that took us, and our collaborators InterACT, a year and a half to complete. Around 60 participants contributed to the script writing, there were 40 or so actually on stage, 11 local professional artists oversaw the production, there were three shows sold out before the first night, and now we have a galvanised community in Meanwood raring to go for whatever community arts adventure comes next. It was epic and wonderful and the recovery time will be lengthy.

But there won’t be much time to recover, as come mid March we launch ‘If I Say Jump’; our new professional cast show travelling to studio theatres up and down the country.  It is performed by Lynsey Jones and Richard Galloway, and the script has been created by Fringe First winner Dick Bonham, with help from Jake England Johns. It’s a fast paced and comic story about a Vicar and her best friend, who just so happens to be a recovering alcoholic, who with the best of intentions get themselves into a right pickle with a rogue gun, a dodgy builder and a car full of flowers. It is also a sort of Western… set in Barnsley. I can’t say too much more about it without spoiling it – come and see it!

I love making community theatre because it’s such an intense and special experience, and I love making professional theatre because you can craft a thing that can be toured to people anywhere and everywhere. I set Common Chorus up so that I could do both.

Switching from one to the other in such a short time will take a little adjustment, however I try to approach both forms with the same process and mindset. When it comes to the content of the shows it is always about telling inspiring and entertaining stories. Our stories are fictional, and often fantastical is some way, but they always reflect the truth of important biographical stories that have been told to us. Our process, be it professional or community, always starts with stories from the real world which become fiction.

The way we approach people on a human level is also really important and consistent across forms; my mantra is ‘people are important’. I called the company Common Chorus because I see every project as an opportunity to bring people together to make a wonderful thing where every voice is important, but also where voices combine to make something bigger than themselves. In the theatre world we use the term ‘ensemble theatre’ to describe this approach. People haven’t always come across that term in communities we work with, but I think the idea is fairly universal.

I hope that by the end of Spring the first phase of what I imagined for Common Chorus will be complete. We will have created two successful examples of theatre I love, in two different forms. Sometimes these forms have different audiences, and involve different artists. But, it is always lovely when people and stories transfer between the two.

A Wind of Change has now finished, although there will be a full length filmed documentation of the show online soon. Keep and eye on our social media (twitter / Facebook) for when it goes up.

If I Say Jump is touring to the following venues this spring:

Thur 15 – Sat 17 March, Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds
Thur 22 March, Waterside Arts Centre, Sale
Fri 23 March, The Witham, Barnard Castle
Wed 28 March, CAST, Doncaster
Thur 29 March, Square Chapel, Halifax
Wed 11th April, Harrogate Theatre
Thur 19 April, Arts Centre Washington
Fri 20 April, Helmsley Arts Centre
Tue 8 May, The Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead
Thur 10 May, Interplay Theatre, Leeds
Sat 12 May, The Civic, Barnsley

 

If I Say Jump – A Recovery Story

If I Say Jump – A Recovery Story

If I Say Jump is a new theatre show by Common Chorus theatre company. Danny, one of the two lead characters, is an addict who is nearly a year into his recovery journey.

At it’s heart ‘If I Say Jump’ is a about the same search for peace and wellbeing that is central to any recovery story. What it is not about is the chaos of addiction, or substance abuse. When we set out to make the show we were already aware of many dramatisations, of varying quality, that explore the spiral towards rock bottom. What we found much more interesting was the change in the mindset that comes with recovery, and then how that mindset is sustained day by day. Our hope is that this is a more original take on a recovery story, and potentially one that is more useful to those who are now practising recovery in the world day to day.

To make a full disclosure, no actors in the show, or people in the core writing team, are addicts or in recovery themselves. So, why are we making this, and who are we to make it? Well, our journey began several years ago when a worker at Spacious Places recovery centre in Leeds approached us about making a community performance with their clients. Spacious Places is an abstinence-based day treatment centre, and our team worked with their clients over the course of two years to make two shows that the clients themselves performed for a recovery community audience. Following on from this, our team of professional actors and writers shaped the stories that the clients had volunteered to us into a full length theatre show that we could tour, called Drink With a Chimp. This travelled mostly to recovery spaces in Yorkshire. To see a short video about our work with Spacious Place click here

 

Whilst working on this project, a funny thing happened. We found ourselves using the language of recovery as we talked to each other about the day to day stresses and strains of making and touring the show. Before long, it became clear to us that we had internalised many of the lessons and strategies that the Spacious Places clients had been using, and it had helped all of us become more resilient, mentally healthy and peaceful people in our day to day lives. So when it came time to think about our next show we realised that we were not done with recovery stories, but this time we wanted to tell a recovery story from a different angle.

We wondered if we could make story about someone who is not an addict, however they do have significant work to do on themselves and their own mental health before they can find peace. They will be helped along the way by someone who is an addict in recovery, who becomes a role model of sorts. So, If I Say Jump was born. It is a fast paced and comic story about a Vicar and her best friend, who just so happens to be a recovering alcoholic, who with the best of intentions get themselves into a right pickle with a rogue gun, a dodgy builder and a car full of flowers. It is also a sort of Western… set in Barnsley. It confronts the unexpected consequences of the snap decisions we make when things get stressful, and it is for anyone who ever asked themselves “why on earth did I just do that?”

We want to encourage people from the recovery community to come and see it, and let us know what you make of it.  We have asked a number of venues on the tour if we can get a ticket deal to bring prices down for people in recovery. Below is a list venues on the tour and information about how you can access cheaper tickets. This list will continue to be updated.

Thur 15 – Sat 17 March, Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds – See Interplay on May 10th.
Thur 22 March, Waterside Arts Centre, Sale – £5 ticket code #ActiveRecovery, Phone Box Office (01619125616)
Fri 23 March, The Witham, Barnard Castle – Reduced ticket code coming soon.
Wed 28 March, CAST, Doncaster – £5 tickets with code: RECOVERY
Thur 29 March, Square Chapel, Halifax – Pay What You Decide, no code needed.
Wed 11th April, Harrogate Theatre
Thur 19 April, Arts Centre Washington
Fri 20 April, Helmsley Arts Centre
Tue 8 May, The Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead
Thur 10 May, Interplay Theatre, Leeds – £5 concession rate tickets for anyone in active recovery or with an LS12 postcode using checkout code: RECOVERY
Sat 12 May, The Civic, Barnsley