a couple of weeks ago i went to stoke-on-trent for the first meeting of a new project with B-Arts. the working title of the project is "the box", and it's an immersive theatre project for 9-13 year-olds that will tour local libraries for the next three years. my role is digital artist, along with maya chowdry (writer), ruby jennings (theatre maker) and the B-Arts team.
i'd never been to stoke-on-trent before, which is actually the conglomeration of six neighbouring towns. as we visited the six libraries that will host the project this year we had a great tour of the area, with local history provided by B-Arts' artistic director susan clarke. she told us about the rise and fall of the coal and pottery industries and how this has shaped the people. susan pointed out the many large and now disused pottery works, some still with their distinctive bottle chimneys. it is really quite incredible how much area is taken up by these abandoned industries, and it was easy to see why susan described the city as a mouth with many teeth missing.
two of the libraries we visited were in grand victorian public buildings, traces of past prosperity, while others occupied the less ornate functional buildings of today's less wealthy, times. all of the library staff we met were welcome and enthusiastic about the project, and the young people that we spoke to were curious about what we will create - and so are we! over the three days, we did some intense brainstorming about themes, visual style and the interactive possibilities. now we are into the fun part of making the work.