One Way Ticket: Rosie Harris

OWT artists pic2March saw the final day of the emerging artists’ workshops, which culminated in a rehearsed reading of all the new work generated by the artists involved. New Writing South were again our hosts for the day, and the event was truly inspiring. Chris Elwell, Director of Half Moon, was on hand to input to performance, and Pete and Daniela from Apples were there to video proceedings and input to discussion on taking work forward. Everyone presented great new work, which they will hopefully take forward into other settings.

Azfa Ali spoke movingly and beautifully about her own life experiences as a refugee from war; Jenn Hart from the touching point of view of a young asylum seeker in a children’s centre in this country; Katrina Quinn explored her teen years in Zambia in a fascinating piece of autobiography (complete with national anthem); Sophie Rose wrote about the British Child Migrants from the perspective of a child now, trying to make sense of it all, in a piece with humour and pathos; Joshua Seigal wittily explored his own family history through the eyes of a dreadful schoolmate; Deborah (Debris) Stevenson also wrote about the Child Migrants’ scandal, with a strong, striking performance; Lorianne Tika-Lemba explored identity through a lyrical approach to mixed heritage; and Michael (Gulliver) Vidon devised enchanting ways of placing himself on his family tree.

OWT artists pic1Given eight artists with ten minutes each, the show was a big ask for the children in the audience, and much longer than the average performance for the age group. However, in an informal feedback session afterwards with Nicky from Apples and Snakes, the children attending generally gave the show a 7-and-upwards out of 10, which is a fantastic result, especially considering most of the artists hadn’t written for children before.

It was a great beginning to the project. This much is clear from the feedback so far – opportunities of this nature are few and far between for young artists. Having the chance to observe at first hand the creation of work from scratch, watching and learning from each other, made it a unique experience for critical engagement and supportive co-learning. Creatively, it opened up a wide range of responses that people are keen to take forward – indeed, some have already done so, trying the work out in school assemblies and other contexts.

Big thanks to all involved – especially the artists and the partner organizations – because it’s been a brilliant first stage. As I write this, we have already kicked off on the second stage – but that’s for next time. Meantime, I have a ship to go look at, as a possible performance venue for the tour.
Rosemary Harris