OurSpace theatre project

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Initiated by New Writing South and working with partners Theatre Royal Brighton and Brighton Dome, OurSpace was a two-term school project where students were given the rare opportunity to work with top professional practitioners to create and produce their own piece of theatre.

Students collaborated to devise, script and produce Insomnia, as well as starring in it, and were involved in every aspect its development.

Tania Banks, Head of Drama at Falmer High School  at the time of the project, said: ‘the improvement in their self esteem, self belief and in their support for each other has been extraordinary.'

Writer Jo Smith introduced the young people at Falmer High School to the craft of playwriting. With the help of award-winning filmmaker Simon Wilkinson, they explored ideas of how film and performance work together on stage.

Student, Jack Leonard said: ‘I’ve really enjoyed doing this because of the amount of live performances I’ve seen; they have really inspired my thinking’.

Workshops with professional practitioners included a session on writing musicals with Olivier winner Stephen Clark (playwright and lyricist of Zorro and The Return of Martin Guerre), a workshop on collaborative theatre-making with Simon Harvey of internationally renowned Kneehigh Theatre, physical theatre sessions with zany Brighton based Unpacked Theatre, and an exploration of theatre skills with ex Eastenders actress Victoria Gould, who has also worked with ground breaking Theatre de Complicite.

Katie Westein, a student on the project said: ‘I enjoyed having visitors in helping us devise and write Insomnia. I think everything I have learnt in the workshops will help me in my future career.’

The students performed the piece in front of a packed house at the Pavilion Theatre, Brighton. The project was funded as a pilot by Arts Council England and Brighton & Hove City Council.