Back in Peterborough after an exciting four days in Southend-on-Sea, I faced several busy days last week.
The next season of theatre for Platform 8, delivered by Jumped-Up-Theatre with Battersea Arts began. This is a bi-yearly event not to be missed and sees some top-quality theatre in the ‘boro! The first event Live Before You Die with Byron Vincent was a show exploring maleness and mental health. Byron looked at his life and main friendship with Dave McGinn as it was and is affected by his PTSD and bipolar disorder. Leading up to the event, he was involved in discussions with local community groups and hosted a curry evening – Curry and Chaat. I went along to help, ate some delicious curry from Punjab Balti House and took part in the conversations. One of the key discussions in our group was on the subject of who we share with and how much we disclose. Lots to think about.
The 21st March was World Poetry Day. I was invited to Avery House Care Home in Hampton Vale to deliver a poetry workshop and share some of my own pieces with them. I oversaw a session with links to The Dreamcatcher Project (a former venture with Jumped-Up-Theatre and One-To-One Development Trust – see the link). The residents shared their hopes and aspirations for the future of Avery House and then drew on their surroundings and encounters to contribute to a poem. I’m going to work on their material and return to perform the poem to them. It was great to talk about the qualities occupants brought to the building – a plethora of wisdom and experiences.
On the evening of World Poetry Day spoken word artist Alex Tyler kicked off a new event for Peterborough in the shape of a poetry slam – the first of its kind locally. It was a fantastic event at the Broadway Theatre and had a big audience, including a large contingency from Lincoln. Mark Grist performed a set in the interval (he noted that it was the first full length set he remembered doing in the city for years). I enjoyed having an unusual break from performing. I relaxed, was entertained and spent most the evening laughing. The overall winner was Amber Page, who performed two incredibly poignant pieces – the deserved slam champion!
After only two days break from poetry and theatre happenings, it was back to it on Saturday for two more Platform 8 events. The first was a family-centred story by Paddleboat Theatre Company called According to Arthur. If I had to pick, I think this would be my highlight of the week. The show traced the journey of old Arthur – a man who had become shut off from the world around him. It followed the search for his friend the moon, which leads him to remember a more connected time and ultimately value friendships. Movement and props were used in unusual and brilliant ways, but the test of it all – an energetic five-year-old who sat enthralled throughout and loved showing old Arthur some funky dance moves.
To finish the week, I went with my daughter to The Head Wrap Diaries, from Uchenna Dance (brought to the city by Peterborough Presents for Platform 8, Jumped-Up-Theatre) – a complete change of tone from Paddleboat Theatre and a great experience. I especially enjoyed the celebration of women in all their diversity alongside their cultural roots – symbolised by hair and the head wrap. The performance was beautiful and dynamic. At home we had been watching He Named Me Malala (which I would highly recommend) – a documentary about the young activist Malala Yousafzai who was shut in the head by the Taliban for speaking out about the rights of girls. All-in-all we enjoyed a good couple of days of female empowerment and inspiration.
Photo courtesy of Tony Nero
There are still three other Platform 8 performances that are open for booking. They are Sponge by Turned On Its Head, for babies, young children and their carers, Anonymous by home-grown ensemble URock and Ugly Chief by Victoria Melody. All look set to be fantastic events and well-worth booking in to. For more information see the Jumped-Up-Theatre site.