If you like walking and are within reach of Edinburgh, check out the poster trail that celebrates the outcomes from the 2020 Class Act project run by the Traverse Theatre.
Their flagship scheme has been running since 1990, when they made a ‘commitment to connecting with, nurturing and unlocking the creative potential of young people’. In the period to 2018 this has involved working with 88 schools, creating 1,714 young writers and producing 933 plays, in addition to incorporating students in India, Russia and the Ukraine.
An added dimension for participants in this year’s Class Act was the inclusion of workshops by Scottish creatives across a range of disciplines. Multi-instrumentalist and singer Be Charlotte and Dave Hook, of alternative hip-hop group Stanley Odd, provided expertise in the field of music. May Sumbwanyambe, with his background as an award-winning playwright was able to take students through a range of creative processes. He is currently on commission to The National Theatre of Scotland, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Scottish Opera and the BBC, so was able to draw on specific examples of creating new works for the stage and radio that included operas and musicals. Continuing in this vein were Apphia Campbell, whose show Black Is The Color Of My Voice has received universal acclaim, Davey Anderson, whose short play Blackout has had multiple stagings along with many of his other works, and director, writer and actor for stage, screen and radio Maryam Hamidi whose material covers an array of genres.
The appeal to students of working with theatre company Groupwork will be obvious from their description of how they operate: ‘groupwork has an integrated, collaborative approach to creating new work; sitting at the intersection of dance, theatre and multi-media performance. Our work is visually poetic, formally playful and thematically bold. Movement, image and sound-work are at the forefront of our process’. Peter Dobre’s input was in a similar vein. He grew up in Romania as the only deaf person in his family. He moved to Glasgow to join the BA Performance in British Sign Language and English course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Since his graduation he has taught movement and dance workshops with numerous companies.
With reference to this years classes, The Traverse’s Creative Development Producers, Robbie Gordon and Wezi Mhura said, “Although the pandemic created challenges for delivering 2020’s Class Act project...We’ve been constantly excited and inspired by the vision and imagination of all the students we’ve worked with, their determination to create even in difficult circumstances, and how passionate they are…” This seemingly rubs off on those who contribute. Playwright Nicola McCartney, who worked on Class Act a few years ago, maintains that the scheme is not just a one-way process: “It is a project which, in my experience, changes lives for young people involved. Every time I do the project it changes mine”.
This year’s display of work involves senior pupils from Craigroyston Community School, Boroughmuir High School, Broughton High School and Royal High School who took part in the scheme in Edinburgh during 2020. Their original short scripts can be seen at 17 poster sites around the city until Monday 19th April and feature a mix of unlikely situations and strongly drawn characters that revolve around an array of subjects including mental health, politics, current affairs, killers on the run, reality TV and many more. The posters have been designed by Orlando Lloyd, and the trail has been made possible with the support of Jack Arts.
A map of their locations on a route from Traverse Theatre, along Lothian Road, on Fountainbridge, South Clerk St, Dalry Road and Potterrow is available here: Class Act Poster Trail.