Thursday, October 18, 2012

Case Study No. 0596: Penny

Shhh! A play about a library at the library.
By Kriss Foster, Mary Sharples and The Dukes Senior Youth Theatre

A play about a library, at the library.

Penny is a librarian. She draws her own tattoos on with a biro, knows the location of every book in the library, has written 362 unfinished songs and this year she is absolutely, definitely going to win the X Factor. But is fame, fortune and leaving Lancaster really the key to her happiness? The Senior Youth Theatre bring you a story about luck, love, friendship and all the other things you find in a library.
Tags: The Dukes Lancaster Library Lancashire Play Shhh! Senior Youth Theatre Things to do in January
Added: 1 year ago
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[various people (students and librarians) are shown shushing the camera in quick succession, then "The Dukes / Shhh! / January 26th - 28th at Lancaster Library" appears on screen]
NARRATOR: A play about a library, at the library ...



The Dukes Senior Youth Theatre are taking over Lancaster Library to celebrate its role in the community and the variety of people who use it.

From January 26-28, a cast of around 20 teenagers will be performing Shhh! : a play about a library in the library.

It's the first time the Senior Youth Theatre have left their base at DT3 in Moor Lane, Lancaster, to present a site specific play.

Mary Sharples and Kriss Foster have directed Shhh! Mary said: "I wanted to do something in the library because it's such a brilliant space."

"The library staff want the space to be used by everybody and have it as a venue for different activities and I thought it would be really good for live theatre."

The collaborative project began in the summer and involved youth theatre members devising questionnaires to discover why people used the library and they also collected stories from the librarians.

"Many in our group had never used the library so they've learned a lot about what it provides," said Mary. "What struck us most was the variety of reasons people visit the library and how central it is to the community.

"There's lots of local references in the play because it's set in Lancaster and is about Lancaster."

The central characters are a librarian played by Amy-Jo Clough and an IT technician played by Nathan Groves-Wilson.

Original music is featured in the play and each group member has been encouraged to learn an instrument.

The title of the play alludes to the traditional view of libraries though this has been shattered in recent years by Lancaster Library's pioneering Get It Loud in Libraries music project.

Mary said: "Our production will be all about energy, percussion and music as we tell the story of all the people and things found in a library."



Put together by The Dukes' Senior Youth Theatre, Shhh! sets its drama around Penny, a librarian who - amongst other things draws tattoos on her arm with biro pens, knows the location of every book in the building and, with 362 unfinished songs under her belt, is well prepared for an X-Factor appearance that she is ‘absolutely definitively' going to win!

Billed as a play about luck, love, friendship, Shhh! is peppered with references to the local area. It's also the first of the Senior Youth Theatre's productions to take place outside of their DT3 base on Moor Lane.

In the lead-up to its run at Lanacaster Library (25th- 28th January), I spoke to directors Kriss Foster and Mary Sharples about a play that's steeped in local culture and community.

Tom Bramhall: Where and when did the ideas for Shhh! come together?

Kriss: The idea came about a year ago. We were interested in doing a site specific piece in Lancaster with the Senior Youth Theatre. We thought about spaces that would be great for theatre in Lancaster and when we thought of the library we thought it would be great. The thought of a play about Lancaster, set in Lancaster and performed in the library space was one that excited me greatly.

Tom: Who's involved?

Kriss: There's myself, Mary and The Dukes Senior Youth Theatre from DT3 at the Dukes. We devised the characters with last years group and put the script together over Summer. This years group worked on the piece and added new scenes of their own. As a collaborative, devising process I think it's been a great success.

Tom: How are you finding the library as a performance space?

Kriss: Excellent, the library are so supportive and encouraging and have made us so welcome in their space. It's been great rehearsing in the library and seeing how many things go on. Theatre feels like a natural progression, especially after the success of the Get it Loud in Libraries project.

Tom: What's been the most enjoyable aspect of getting the play together?

Mary: There have been so many enjoyable moments in creating the piece. When we started researching the piece in May it was great visiting the library and talking to people about how they use the space and then developing characters from their answers. Another enjoyable aspect of the process has been seeing the group get involved with all aspects of the piece, for example, devising and adding extra scenes, choreographing pieces of movement and learning musical instruments.

Tom: Have you any advice for people wanting to get involved with local arts?

Kriss: My advice would be to do it. If you have an idea share it and they'll be a ton of people who want to share and help. Lancaster is full of talented and creative people that are happy to share in and support creative projects. I've found organisations in Lancaster also to be very supportive and willing to listen to and support many varied projects.

Tom: Will there be original music?

Kriss: Yes, there will. The group have all been encouraged to learn a new musical instrument to perform a song that the group worked on together. There is percussion, singing and a great variety of instruments!

Tom: Are fame, fortune and leaving Lancaster keys to happiness?

Mary: Perhaps fame and fortune are the keys to happiness but leaving Lancaster definitely isn't. With so many exciting creative things happening at places like the Dukes and the library and with young people so enthusiastic and inventive as our group, how would anyone not be happy in Lancaster?

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