Common Chorus Theatre

Community Performers in Leeds Wanted – Let’s Talk About Loneliness

This February Common Chorus Theatre will be presenting a night of performance and discussion about one of our societies last great taboos; social isolation and loneliness. We are looking for community actors, musicians and storytellers to take part in a performance that will inspire this conversation.

Due to exceptional interest in this project, we have now closed recruitment for the community performance cast. If you want to join the waiting list please email Simon on simonmatthewbrewis@gmail.com 

Who – Our invitation is open to anyone whose life has been touched by social isolation, or who feels passionately that they have something to say about the mental health impacts of loneliness. We have learned that people can be affected by loneliness for all sorts of reasons, for example, the onset of disability, moving out as a young adult, getting older, being single, becoming a carer or becoming a new parent are just a few. If you have reason to join your voice to our ensemble, whether you are an experienced amateur performer or a complete novice, you are welcome.

What – As part of our ongoing project ‘The Lonely Society’, this Autumn our director Simon Brewis and guest writer Andrea Heaton have worked with a group of twelve community writers. They have created a brand new storytelling theatre script inspired by biographical stories and we are now looking for volunteer actors, musicians, singers, narrators, spoken word performers etc to help us bring it to life. The show takes around half an hour to perform and is for a cast of around 20 people. It will be the centrepiece of two evenings of performance, food and discussion about the mental health impacts of social isolation and loneliness; of course, our performers are very welcome to join the discussion.

Where and When – Rehearsals and performances will be at Stainbeck Church in Meanwood; Stainbeck Road, LS7 2PP. Starting on Saturday 5th January we will be rehearsing from 1.30-4pm every Saturday afternoon until the production week. In production week cast members will be needed on evenings 20th – 23rd February for rehearsals and performances.

How –Due to exceptional interest in this project, we have now closed recruitment for the community performance cast. If you want to join the waiting list please email Simon on simonmatthewbrewis@gmail.com

For more information about the wider context of this production see ‘The Lonely Society’

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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

‘The Lonely Society’ is an ongoing series of theatre projects driven by Common Chorus Theatre during 2018 and 2019. Through workshops, community engaged performances, public conversations and finally a national tour of a new theatre production, we seek to lift the lid on the great taboo of loneliness in the modern age. The project is unfolding in three stages:

Part 1 – Creating the script for a new community play.

Through the Autumn of 2018 our artist team ran storytelling workshops with partners Parkinsons Halifax, Mind the Gap Academy, Carers Leeds, The Equity Partnership and the Don’t Call Me Old group in Armley to give voice to stories about social isolation. A group of twelve community writers then took inspiration from these stories in an ongoing scriptwriters group led by Leeds based writer Andrea Heaton.

Best

Together they wove the research together with their own personal experiences to create a compelling fiction that has now been crafted into a new community play.

Part 2 – ‘Let’s Talk About Loneliness’ and Community Performance

In early January 2019, a cast of approx 20 people with diverse voices and their own connection to the impacts of social isolation will begin rehearsing the new script that we have developed. Hosted by partners at InterACT, the show will be performed at Stainbeck Church Hall on the 22nd & 23rd of February as part of an evening of theatre, food and conversation which we are calling ‘Let’s Talk About Loneliness’.

Tickets will go on sale in the New Year. Join our mailing list to keep up to date with developments.

Part 3 – New Theatre Show and National Tour

Following months of storytelling, learning and discussions our professional artist team will then develop a new storytelling production for studio theatres; previewing in early summer 2019. Director Simon Brewis and writer Dick Bonham return from our last show ‘If I Say Jump’ and are joined by performers Emma Gordon and Claire Marie Seddon. Built upon what we have learned from part 1 & 2, this new show will tell an entertaining and provoking story that speaks truthfully about the taboo of social isolation and loneliness today.

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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