The Liverpool Screen School Research Seminar is an interdisciplinary series of talks that explore the content, operation and impact of the media; the role of culture and identity in shaping public policy; and research methods in creative disciplines.
Dr James Kenworth (Middlesex) will present a paper entitled Public Spaces, Public Words: Towards a Localist Theatre.
I will explore the writing, production and performances of two Newham-based, issue-led and awareness-raising plays: Everybody’s World and Dementia’s Journey, which dealt with elder abuse and dementia respectively in the South Asian community.
Both plays were commissioned by Newham-based charity, EKTA Project, and both featured a volunteer cast, a community participatory feature I was to develop and expand in the Newham Trilogy series of plays I wrote between 2012 and 2016. The use of a 'mixed economy' or volunteer cast has been consistent feature of my work as a playwright. I will explore this method or approach in the context of working with elderly volunteers, some with dementia, in these two EKTA plays.
Both plays were commissioned expressly to raise awareness of difficult, complex and sensitive issues within a particular ethnic community. The purpose of these plays was in effect to bring about real, practical change in communities and individuals and I will explore the process whereby I navigated the sometimes delicate balance between satisfying the commissioners’ need for a proselytizing/informational role in the play and an audience’s desire for a good story.