The REP Brings Theatre To Life With Neighbourhood Libraries
The REP is joining forces with Birmingham City Council’s Library and Archive Services to bring a range of theatre projects to six local libraries across the city.
From Tolkien-inspired ‘audio walks’ in Hall Green to historical tales in the ruins of Weoley Castle, the project aims to bring some of Birmingham’s local stories to life.
The Neighbourhood REP projects, which have been funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, will take place over the next two years during the re-development of The REP and the Library of Birmingham.
We’ll be working in partnership with six of Birmingham’s community libraries: Springhill, Ward End, Weoley Castle, Harborne, Hall Green and Quinton.
Each project will be inspired by the local people, history and community of the libraries and will give library users the chance to get involved, through playwriting, storytelling, performing or simply enjoying a performance.
The Neighbourhood REP projects are:
Hall Green Audio Walks – JRR Tolkien grew up near Sarehole Mill and many of the locations and characters of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were drawn from the local area. A professional playwright will work with library users and local people to create a series of ‘audio walks’ around the local area. The ‘audio walks’ will take place in and around Hall Green over several evenings culminating in a specially commissioned performance in the natural amphitheatre at Moseley Bog.
Weoley Castle Community Play – A large-scale site-specific play, The Witches’ Promise by Stephanie Dale will be performed in the medieval ruins of Weoley Castle and inspired by the history of this 13thcentury landmark. Stephanie Dale will work with local community groups to research and unearth the history of the site using library resources. Local residents will have the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of the production including performance.
Springhill Stories – A project that will create a site-specific theatre and storytelling piece inspired by the architecture and history of the atmospheric, 19th Century Grade II listed building itself. Springhill Stories will also be published for future library users to enjoy.
Ward End Generation – Grandmothers, mothers, children and other users of Ward End Library will create a piece of theatre for children aged 0 – 5 years with storyteller Vayu Naidu. The production will be multi-lingual and will use sound, movement and song to represent the stories and cultures of the users of Ward End Library. It will tour to other community libraries in Birmingham before performing in the Children’s Library of the new Library of Birmingham.
Harborne Histories – Using the city’s substantial archive, Harborne Histories will engage pupils of Harborne Academy in working with a local history society to research and bring elements of the city’s archive to life through theatre performance.
Quinton Seeing Stories – Students from Queen Alexander College for the blind and visually impaired will create a piece of multi-sensory theatre that will be performed in Quinton Library.
Steve Ball, The REP’s Associate Director says of Neighbourhood REP: “Before The REP and the new Library of Birmingham become neighbours we wanted to explore how the two organisations could work together creatively. Libraries are the heart of local communities and this ambitious project is an opportunity for The REP to engage with new audiences.”
Brian Gambles, Project Director for the Library of Birmingham, adds: “Neighbourhood REP is a fantastic example of how Library and Archive Services and The REP will be working together in the future, bringing together the written and the spoken word, thanks to the partnership we have forged to deliver the Library of Birmingham. Using library and archive resources to tell stories and explore local heritage through performance activities, this is a wonderful opportunity for communities city-wide to get more involved with libraries and the theatre in the run-up to the opening of the Library of Birmingham in 2013.”
Neighbourhood REP will take place over the next two years during the re-development of Birmingham Repertory Theatre and the Library of Birmingham. This re-development will see the two cultural organisations join together to share public spaces and a new auditorium.