Guest post by Simon Floyd, Director of The Common Lot and project leader for Come Yew In!

Where do I start?

I tried last week to write this blog – made several attempts and abjectly failed to turn it all into something neat and encompassing. Then I toyed with the idea of starting the blog with a comment on how tricky it is to write a blog about a project that is so multi-faceted and potentially expansive. And then I rejected that idea as hackneyed and lame. But that is, in any case, what I have just done.

So where do you start?
Well – it starts of course, with the idea – and Come Yew In! is a good idea.
We are going to make for, with about the people of Norwich a free, inclusive, humanity-laden variety show about the history of incomers into the city. It plays both into the pride that Norwich has for itself and speaks massively to the needs and concerns of these uncertain times.

Theatre that included the working classes was so important in the fight for hearts and minds against the Fascists of the Early 30’s. The inter-war pageant movement may have been saddled with too much British pomp- but it could also tell big stories on mankind’s struggles and triumphs through history and bring people together in a common understanding of their humanity.

Come Yew In!
This project is not pageant – but it is doing the same thing. I am a firm believer – even an evangelist – in the power of locally made, participative theatre to change minds and make for tolerant, warm-hearted, co-operative communities. Not theatre that is shown to its own limited audiences in the usual venues – but theatre that is free and can travel, pitch up, do and enjoy the fact of an audience to talk to; theatre that is unashamedly populist and determinedly accessible; theatre that employs styles and techniques that can easily appeal to those who don’t think it’s for them: comedy, songs, games, pantomime. These conventions can carry a strong humanitarian message on important issues and by extension become a motivating example of what a group of committed individuals can do when they value the spirit in each other.

Someone once said to me “world peace will only be achieved once people start taking an interest in each other” . Well, in my book, there is nothing like home grown theatre to help you start taking an interest. It’s one big team game.

That is why I am so pleased to have the privilege to work with a Jeannette and a professional research department. Not only does it root us in good soil, it gets us another layer down, and allows those who may not immediately consider theatre as an endeavour, to join the party as engaged and active researcher volunteers. The research phase will be coming to an end soon and then we’re gearing up to go public in March and find the people who will join us in the cast and crew.

cyi_img_3k3dl2So are moving from research to creative response and then into production, building the script as we go . Never done it before – but I am betting that’s a model with a lot of application.

To make the journey from nowhere to full production in 5 months seems crazy, but we’re definitely aboard the train now. The links with New Routes are being made- the writers are being found – the tour is being finalised – it’s not the time to go into details. I’m too busy!

It’s just time to reflect that more people are getting on board, and they do so because – first and foremost – they get the big idea.
So .. that’s where both the show and the blog start.
The rest is catching those that catch us and laying down the tracks as we roll….

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