making theatre – making memories – making friends
Hello, and welcome to New Theatre in Your Neighbourhood: a three-year research project by theatre producers Fuel looking at new ways to tour live performance.
Led by co-directors Louise Blackwell and Kate McGrath, Fuel create fresh experiences for adventurous people, working with inspiring artists to present work that is playful, emotional and surprising. NTiYN aims to transform the relationship between Fuel’s artists and audiences, creating the possibility for new conversations between theatre-makers and the communities they visit – and within the communities themselves. This has been happening in six key places: the Lighthouse in Poole; the Lakeside in Colchester; ARC in Stockton; the Continental in Preston; the Tom Thumb and the Theatre Royal in Margate; and Malvern Theatres in Malvern. As of summer 2015, ARC is no longer participating in the project; click here to read an interview with their chief executive, Annabel Turpin, explaining why, and how ARC approaches artist-audience relationships.
This blog is a multi-authored space edited by critic and blogger Maddy Costa. It charts the ongoing progress of NTiYN, from first impressions of each of those venues and towns, through all the permutations of our thinking as the project has developed: about ticket prices, post-show conversations, how to forge a genuine relationship with a community, and more. For background context, there’s a useful essay by Catherine Love, commissioned by Fuel, which discusses the problems of the present models for touring theatre in the UK.
Fuel are not the only people seeking to create a cultural shift: the Elsewhere section highlights writing that’s happening in other blogs that inspires us and challenges us with new ideas.
In the Reviews section, we republish audience reviews of Fuel’s work. Readers are very welcome to contribute to this, and to the rest of the blog: if you’re interested in doing so, please get in touch via Fuel’s website.
In an earlier phase of the research project, Fuel sent a number of artists to the participating venues/towns with a view to creating new work specifically for those communities. Those visits are recorded in a series of posts under the heading Artists’ Views. Andy Smith has since made a story for Preston, The Preston Bill, which will be touring the UK in 2015.
As Fuel makes the transition from research to putting the ideas of NTiYN into daily practice, a new volunteer network is emerging, and their adventures are documented here, too.
Fuel asked me – Maddy – to be part of NTIYN because in 2012 I established Dialogue with Jake Orr, to inspire new conversations between the people who make, watch and write about theatre. In this project, I get to put some of Dialogue’s ideas into practice. I also work as critic-in-residence with Chris Goode & Company, and writing by me can be read in Exeunt, the Guardian and on my blog, Deliq.
We hope what you read here will entice you to see Fuel’s work, to think about your relationship with your own local theatre, and to get involved. Thank you for taking part.