"I love the power that theatre has to tell stories" - The latest from Furnace Artist Jay Crutchley
Community is at the heart of what we do and we are especially proud of our Furnace community engagement programme, that sees theatre makers from The REP working in five different Furnace Hubs around Birmingham to engage and create theatre together.
In a series of blogs, we are following the journey of our Furnace Artists as they work within the local community and next up we're chatting to Jay Crutchley about his work in Quinton's Welsh House Farm.
Hi! My name is Jay Crutchley and I am a Theatre Director and Facilitator amongst many other labels!
I love the power that theatre has to tell stories and exist as a living and breathing thing that can directly engage with people. I primarily work as a facilitator using theatre as a tool to question the status quo and work with young people to find ways in which their voices can be truly heard and represented.
Throughout history, theatre has been a tool used by the people to represent their own stories within society and I strongly believe that this element of theatre needs to be reclaimed. I feel that there is now a stigma attached to theatre and many people (myself included) believe that theatre is no longer for them, which is why I am so excited to have been commissioned as part of The REP's Furnace programme to create a new piece of theatre with the Welsh House Farm community within my local community in Quinton along with Big Local, a National Lottery trust that works with local communities, who have kindly supported the project.
This project has given this vibrant community a chance to represent their own voices, giving them a platform to tell the stories that matter to them, reclaiming a little piece of the theatre world with something created by and for Welsh House Farm.
At this early stage of the project, I have been privileged enough to meet some amazing people from the area and become part of their journey as they rediscover the magic and wonder of theatre. We visited The REP to see various shows and experience a backstage tour and have now set up a number of small groups so that we are able to begin devising and telling stories that come from the heart of the community.
I have spent most of my time on this project at the local allotments on Sunday morning engaging in interesting conversation with the locals there – I've even picked up a few gardening tips! I truly believe that having these conversations with the residents of Quinton are so important and are integral in representing the true voice of the city.
I am looking forward to continuing with this project and using this piece of theatre as a tool to tell the stories of those who normally go unheard and unrepresented on main house stages. This is a chance to not only reclaim a little piece of theatre but also to reclaim the narrative of Birmingham as a city.
You can keep up to date with Jay's project and the other Furnace Artists here.
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