Case Study

“Seeing everything come together was a wonderful moment.”

Date published: 4 Jul 2022

Posted by: Alison Denholm

Musical performers bathed in blue light

The Jingah Project is a fantastic theatrical collaboration based around the theme of environmental responsibility. Led by Chloé Charody Creations, the project brought together world-class artists and performers to create exciting opportunities for local people and communities.

This was certainly true for The Jingah Project design team, which saw a number of brilliant artists working with students from Nottingham Trent University and families from Notts Refugee Forum, supported by City Arts.

Each artist worked around their own brief to create a different design element of the project, while keeping an eye on the bigger picture. Everything had to come together as one complete performance.

The look and feel of The Jingah Project was based on original designs created by Berlin-based illustrator, Maxim Krioukov, including a central character Patrick Poppywopple. Patrick was designed and realised by the team at Mandinga Arts, led by Charles Beauchamp. London-based Mandinga Arts researches, designs, creates and delivers extraordinary and innovative outdoor performance costumes, puppets and processions, engaging communities in collaboration with skilled professional artists. Charles shared some of his Jingah highlights:

The excitement of the design work was one. Often, it’s done on a small scale on your own. In this case, it was a design from another artist, with the challenge being how close we at Mandinga could get to this. There were stages in the build when you could see it growing, from the model to the scaled-up version, with all the challenges along the way!

The pandemic dragged out the process at times but the buzz came back with the arrival of Izzy Hollis, the lead puppeteer. Seeing everything come together was a wonderful moment, as was finally seeing Patrick on stage – parading, singing, dancing, and strutting his stuff.

Head of a large bird-like puppet
Patrick Poppywopple

Midlands-based artist and designer, Bryony McCombie Smith, took on the brief to create costumes and small hand puppets, working in collaboration with families from Notts Refugee Forum. Bryony reflects:

The brief was to create everything with recycled materials, which meant I had to be a bit more abstract in how I interpreted the beautiful illustrations that Maxim had created. I was given quite a lot of flexibility and creativity and I used a lot of old reclaimed and recycled stuff, particularly plastics. They are a bit stronger than other recycled materials, look good, and are shiny; from the recycling point of view they are the ones that are not going away, is it’s good to reuse them. I also used some leftovers from the stage set that was being designed for The Jingah Project, together with some old bits of costume from City Arts.

Child performers are filmed holding illuminated hand puppets

I was expecting to work with lots of amazing people, and I did. From some fabulous children who helped to bring Maxim’s wonderful drawings to life, to those at the beginning of their careers, to others who have been working for years. The mix of people led to some great collaborations. I really enjoyed the workshop with the Refugee Forum, working with the families and supporting them to work together.

The design and realisation of The Jingah Project stage set was the final element for the design team, and possibly the most ambitious. Students from Nottingham Trent University were approached to support the project, and after designing their dream production as part of their course, Ella Barraclough was commissioned to create the set and lead the project, with additional designs provided by Anouk Hufschmid-Hirschbuehl. Ella explained:

It was a mammoth task with budget restrictions too, so I did a call out to all the students at NTU to come and help. The design process was truly international with students all over the world working over Zoom because of the pandemic.

I was really proud of the team and as we worked, it was really nice to be able to give them autonomy over elements of the design, and share different experiences, such as showing people how to be with a performer in a fitting.

A multi-coloured stage set made up of 'rubbish' items

I feel really grateful to have had something like this so early on in my career and it’s something I’m super proud of. It’s helped me going into my next project, learning on the job with things like managing a team. It made me realise what sort of theatre I want to make. It was bonkers, but I have taken away so much from the experience!

The team Ella worked with included Ivy Richards, Felicity Walsh-Mangham, Jenny Davison, Poppy Lewis, Li-Wen Chen, Ella Burrell, Emily Bonnet, Emma Hadley and Stephanie Nicholls.

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