Midlanders' Memories Onstage
At the heart of Birmingham Repertory Theatre's charitable purpose is an ambition to actively create theatre with, for and by the people of Birmingham, enabling the city's residents to see themselves and their stories reflected on our stages.
This is an objective we extend to off the stage, engaging with diverse communities throughout the West Midlands. Thanks to donations from six Birmingham-based charitable trusts and foundations, our Learning and Participation team have recently been working with local elders to explore the power of music and drama to unlock memories.
The second stage of this pilot project took place on Thursday 5th May when we welcomed 20 elderly people from Hagley Road Retirement Village to the matinee performance of Between the Two. This play, created and directed by The REP's Head of Education, Daniel Tyler, is based on his own family experience. It explores the impact of Indian independence and the legacy of our shared Anglo-Indian culture.
Amongst the group were three individuals who coincidentally found their own stories reflected onstage. June – an Anglo-Indian herself who left India in 1947 and set up home in the West Midlands said that the play could easily be based on her life; Phil – one of the last British soldiers to leave Bombay by coincidence was in photograph shown onstage; and Alim – an accomplished classical Indian musician.
After the show, the cast enjoyed tea with the elders. Alim was encouraged to join the show's composer Ravneet on stage, and sang while she played. It was the performance of the afternoon.
This pilot project concludes later this month with one further workshop and theatre trip to see Tommy – the multi-award winning epic rock musical written by Pete Townshend.
We are then hoping to secure additional funding to develop the pilot into mainstream activity. Interested Trusts and Foundations should contact The REP's fundraising team on 0121 245 2162.
As a registered charity, Birmingham Repertory Theatre is extremely grateful for all the philanthropic donations we receive, and in particular the following trusts who have funded this project:
George Fentham Birmingham Charity, GJW Turner Trust, The George Henry Collins Charity, The Grimmitt Trust, Grimley Charity and Henry James Sayer Charity.