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Report: Narrative Workshop with Nathan Curry

“What is art?” and “Why don’t we talk to each other?” were just two of the big questions asked and then attempted to be answered during a workshop with Nathan Curry, Co-Creative Director of Tangled Feet. The workshop, which took place on the 18th August at the Craft Outlet Store at Springfields in Spalding, was a chance to engage with the ideas of and artists responsible for ‘Burntwater: A Creative Fenland Journey’.

Nathan opened the workshop proclaiming his belief in play as vital to the creative process and thus the need for games to get us started. The group was made up of local residents, artists and members of heritage organisations amongst others and our successes and failures in completing this ice breaker game, served to highlight the first point – we remember and respond to actions and movements much better than words.

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Over the course of the next hour we were taken through the creative process behind Burntwater, one that Nathan stressed was driven by questions. We began with the place, South Holland, and the questions this had created juxtaposing those which had inspired the performance (such as ‘why is it called South Holland?’) alongside those from the group (‘How can we be below sea level but not under water?’). Discussions turned to ‘Why don’t we value artists?’ and ‘What is Art?’ before we segued to consider what art should do. ‘Escapism’, ‘Inspiration’ and ‘Education’ were included in the suggestions from the group. The final question in this section of the workshop asked ‘What should great theatre include?’. From a great set to comedy and tragedy, we had high expectations for our ideal production.

For the following 30 minutes we were divided into groups and presented with one of our own questions, one of our art outcomes and just one of our many requirements for an awesome production. The groups outputs were extraordinary and three productions which I’d love to see realised! ‘How do we involve young people?’ saw holographic (or should that by holy-graphic) monks taking over Crowland Abbey to tell their story in a participatory performance. ‘Why don’t we talk to each other?’ became a comedy entitled ‘Houston Wee Have A Problem’ about a malfunctioning toilet on the space station. The audience became ground control offering their advice on the aeronautical plumbing. And ‘How can we be below sea level but not underwater?’ inspired an interactive vintage train journey through tunnels and flying over oceans.

Participants were eager to ask more questions about the intricacies of the Burntwater performance after the end of the workshop so discussions continued in the pub afterwards. The opportunity to understand, to be inspired and to engage with Nathan and with each other was overall very well received.

For any groups that want to do more with theatre, why not check out our DIY strand? ‘Do It Yourself’ offers support for either existing groups or new groups to come together to work with professional artists to develop art skills. For example, we could pair you up with a theatre group like Tangled Feet to create a bespoke theatre piece. Interested? Check out http://www.transportedart.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/DIY-Explanation.pdf for more details.