THE MEMORIES and experiences of some of Stratford’s most recognisable residents and unsung heroes, with a combined life in the town of more than 600 years, will be made public for the first time during this year’s Stratford Arts Festival.
Created from recorded interviews and conversations with people from different social backgrounds, present situations and future possibilities, the collection forms the Stratford Listening Project, which aims to create a reminiscence soundscape of society, business and culture in the town from 1940 to the present day.
Funded by the Stratford Town Trust and in keeping with its aim to bring the community together, the stories were shared by Escape Community Arts with school pupils, community groups and arts organisations, who have used them as inspiration to create visual representations of the stories they heard.
During the Festival, the Stratford Listening Project the recordings will be posted online and an exhibition of visual representations will be on show in Town Square.
Ian Parkes, the project’s director, said that while the project is now being made public, its current form is just the beginning and can be easily added too.
He said: “The legacy of the Stratford Listening Project is simply that. Listen to the stories of the people around you and capture them before they are lost.
“The project has already connected people from many different backgrounds and varying ages and has the ability to continue to do so for many years to come. We have a history and story to be proud of in Stratford and this must be recorded and archived for generations to come.
“We are very grateful to the Town Trust for funding this amazing project and the artists and students who were inspired to create the accompanying artwork based on these fascinating stories. Without the trust’s support of incredible projects such as this, they simply wouldn’t be possible.”
The Stratford Listening Project exhibition will run from May 24 to June 1, and will be accompanied by several related events during the festival, including Songs from the Listening Project, ‘Make Do and Mend’ Toy Making Workshop and ‘Recreate the High Street’ Model Making Workshop.
Visit www.stratforduponavonartsfestival.co.uk for full details of the festival, running from May 24 to June 1.
Clive Depper looks back to the future during Stratford Arts Festival.
The Stratford playwright’s latest work Past Recall is set in 2060 as George Somerville flies to New York, a fit man, but returns with no memory of why he went or where he stayed. The question for George’s family is why, and what sinister forces are at work responsible.
Clive, senior guide at Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said: “Past Recall explores the importance of memories. The play, a modern whodunnit, also shows the tragic consequences when memories are tampered with it.”
The 67-year-old former professional actor’s previous play Shortfall won widespread acclaim at last year’s festival, and he has no less than seven others currently as works in progress.
Past Recall can be seen at The Attic Theatre at The Lazy Cow from May 28 to 31.
The Fringe Theatre side of the festival also pays tribute to Shakespeare Indian-style.
ShakespeareWallah, at The QE Hall Shakespeare Birthplace Trust comes to Stratford direct from Mumbai.
Penned by Sam Ghouse, “Wallah” is an Indian suffix which refers to a person whose work has become one with his identity – of which there are few better examples than Shakespeare.
As an old actor-clown reminisces about life and art after his swan song, in this show after the last show, an inspired performance of a lifetime unfolds unwittingly before an empty auditorium.
During the Festival, the Attic Theatre will play host to a wide-range of performances, including two John Godber comedies – Shakers, told from the point of view of ladies working all night in a cocktail bar, and Bouncers, in which the doormen have their say. Both shows are presented by Tread the Boards.
The family-friendly Back in Time For Breakfast, presented by Munchkins and Monsters Theatre Company, tells the story of Millie, a young girl whose family live and work on a secluded lighthouse island, who one night makes a wish on a shooting star that she can travel and have lots of exciting adventures.
The Last Unicorn is a love story between a care home worker who believes she’s a unicorn and a glamorous American singer, while Going Back: Female Icons of the 1960s presents a musical journey reliving the glitz and glamour of the decade’s singing superstars from Dusty Springfield to Diana Ross.
Rounding off the Fringe Theatre line-up is Is There Life by Ian Harris at The Bear Pit Theatre. The damaged Sergeant Dangerfield finds himself burdened with another problem – his own personal prisoner of war, who is determined not to make life easy for his insane enemy.
And not to be overlooked, Shakespeare’s great tragedy Othello gets it first outing on a Stratford stage for seven years when Tread The Boards tell the tale of jealousy and revenge.
A WIDE range of work by local artists will be celebrated in an exhibition during this year’s Festival.
The Visual Arts Trail, organised by Escape Community Arts and sponsored by Montpellier Galleries, will run in venues throughout the town during the festival.
Artists exhibiting in the Trail include abstract painter Gordon Connell and self-taught Claire Brierley, whose work includes 3D art using reclaimed objects, Alice Shepherd who designs quirky one-off ceramic animal shaped jugs, and Yvette Hughes who works with a patchwork of remnants to create images reminiscent of treasured heirlooms.
Also featured in the Trail is the work of kiln-fused glass artist Anne Donnelly, Jo Wade who works with oils on canvas and with mixed media, and Anya Simmons who takes inspiration from the natural world.