We had a fantastic time during our residency at Wimbledon Space exploring new digital theatre piece A Secret Life for Theatre 503 for the Wandsworth Arts Fringe in May. We learnt loads about the directions the piece might go in and the support from the lovely students was brilliantly helpful.
This is a project about the elderly’s memories of adolescence, connecting teenagers today with those memories and how they compare to their own teenage experiences. We have been interviewing and audio recording some amazing local people in Merton and Wandsworth and hearing their varied stories about being a teenager – whether that’s growing up in a men’s club and being taught billiards, hating school and playing netball was the only thing that got you through it, not being able to afford the right thing to wear to a party and so not wanting to go, or the joy of first love. There’s differences in what people went through as a teenager – and yet a lot that is the same years later.
So, Tamara, our writer, and I started off our residency by listening to our audio recordings so far, writing down anything that might be interesting for our play and putting them on A4 paper in coloured pens on the wall – we separated them into topics such as family life, school, hobbies, figuring out who you are…
Meanwhile, Francis got to work on the app for the piece. Our audience will hear the inner thoughts of a character via audio through an app they have downloaded to their smartphone. The students tested their design skills in a new way helping us to design the user interface of the app to make it not only look good but also be simple and clear to use.
About half way through the residency we also realised that some of the students at Wimbledon College of Art are still teenagers so we could get their responses to our elderly people’s audio recordings and their own thoughts on being a teenager (again more coloured pens and big bits of paper on the walls). We tempted people in with the lure of biscuits (who doesn’t love a chocolate digestive?!), asked them to watch and listen to the audio recordings with added pictures projected onto the walls and recorded their responses via questionnaire.
Overall, thank you so much to Wimbledon Space for this brilliantly useful and productive residency! We learnt a lot and consumed a lot of biscuits.