Friday, 23 February 2018

Wildfire @ Traverse

About Wildfire Theatre
Wildfire Theatre is made up of award winning experienced theatre makers, Wendy Seager, Pauline Lockhart, Molly Innes and Natalie Arle-Toyne. Our aim is to create high quality theatre productions that bring new and unexpected voices to the stage, with a special commitment to ensuring opportunities for women from disadvantaged communities.

A New Voice

For this project, we ran twenty workshop sessions with groups in our target areas around Edinburgh, which included Saheliya Women, Kirkgate session with Engender and LGBT Health, Meadowbank Writers Group, South Neighbourhood Office and Library Creative Writing Group, Comas Women, Link Up Womens Support Centre, Canongate Youth, Oxgangs Care Group Women’s Meet Up, Harmony Choir for Mental Health, Citadel Youth Peer Mentoring Girls Group,  Stanwell Nursery School in Leith and Grassmarket Community’s Women Creative Writing Group.

During these sessions we explored the women’s view of theatre and writing and it’s relevance to them. We then moved on to some simple writing exercises that led to the creation of a number of short scripts. This led to over twenty scripts coming into the Wildfire email over a two week period from women who previously had not been able to find an outlet for their creative writing due to lack of confidence or simply not knowing where to send their work.
The climax of this project was a professional performed reading of this work in the Traverse Theatre to which everyone involved in the various sessions was invited to hear their own words on the professional stage.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

I became more and more aware of the lack of working class voices in the theatre industry and the often cliche way the working class was portrayed.  Being from a working class background myself, I wanted to do something about this.  I wanted to connect with those intelligent, creative voices who were not being reached by existing opportunities.  To find a way of bringing those voices into established theatre.  So Molly Innes, Natalie Arle Toyne, Wendy Seager, and myself booked local community centres, distributed flyers and waited.  Women turned up with journals, stories, poems and shared them, often for the first time.

From that, this event and Wildfire Theatre was born
Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

I think performance provides a unique platform to spark discussion.  It allows ideas to be presented in an indirect way and  can provoke often surprising reactions.

I don’t think there was any one thing that sparked my interest, it’s just always been there. 

The four company members all have many years experience in making and performing theatre, so we were able to draw on our collective skills.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

This is the very first Wildfire Theatre performance!

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

I hope the audience will feel inspired and supportive of the need for change in the voices that are represented on our stages.  I hope they leave feeling entertained and that they have been part of the first step toward change.

We believe opportunities should be equally distributed and talent and potential should be nurtured no matter which social class you are born into or community you live in. We strive to blaze new pathways to those cut off from the opportunity to widen their horizons and challenge the entrenched inequalities in opportunities that exist in our society. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

We aim to change the perceptions and expectations of working class women by presenting work which doesn't conform to a stereotype and challenges the image the media presents of the working class.

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