The Squire Performing Arts Centre is a versatile creative space for performing arts based at Nottingham Girls High School on Arboretum Street, opened in 2017 as a platform for all generations to explore the arts.
The space played host to The Jingah Project residency, bringing together world-class artists and performers alongside a number of Nottingham community groups to create a fantastic theatrical collaboration based around the theme of environmental responsibility. Led by Chloé Charody Creations, The Jingah Project came to life over two weeks of intensive activity at The Squire, where the show was workshopped and devised scene by scene, ready for the first open rehearsals at the end of the residency.
Anita Bush, Centre Manager at The Squire describes the vision for the space:
We are very passionate that whilst the theatre is used to provide a space for the school, it is also available for use by all arts organisations, performers and artists. We want to be a venue that supports local artists, but is also a learning environment. The Jingah Project Residency supported the emergence of a bold creative project, as well as supporting the careers of young people wanting to go into the arts.
One of the first things to happen was the installation of brand new aerial rig points in the space for trapeze, silks, ropes and aerial poles. The circus elements were an exciting and intrinsic part of the overall show, led by two spectacular performers, Sophie Duncan and Rebecca. Sophie led on the overall choreography and worked with a team of young performers from The Dance Studios in Hockley, Nottingham, who played a key role in the show. Find out more
Gradually, over the two weeks, more and more artists arrived including the show’s lead musicians, Sonia and Tony from The Freestyle Orchestra, based in Vienna. Sonia and Tony also took time out of their residency schedule to talk to students from Nottingham Girls High School about their experience and careers. You can see some of the orchestra’s classical and circus fused performances here.
Students were invited to come to rehearsal sessions, to see first-hand how a show like The Jingah Project comes together. They also had workshops and talks with Chloé about her career and experience, and with Alison Denholm, Creative Development Manager at City Arts, exploring puppetry and manipulation. Anita shared her thoughts:
The workshops and talks showed the girls what’s involved and gave them an understanding of both the creative and technical process. From our point of view, being able to nip in and watch bits of the rehearsals was teaching beyond the classroom.
As the residency progressed and the company grew to its full capacity, the design team began to install the set, and The Squire’s technicians started to look at the lighting and sound for the final show. Anita explained:
It was fantastic for our technicians to have a project they could really get their teeth into, and be given a lot of creative freedom. The opportunities The Jingah Project gave to The Squire staff were immense and as a small team of four we were all pulling on each other’s strengths. That was exhilarating.
The Jingah Project residency was an extraordinary collaboration between professional performers, including established practitioners and new and emerging artists from the UK and abroad, students, and non-professional performers from local community groups. Reflecting on this unique combination and how it supports and enriches learning, Anita continued:
From a young person’s point of view, the whole process may have been a shock! Producing to a timescale is hard, but doing it early on in your career can be daunting. The pressures for the professionals were also there in equal measure. Everyone had their own individual part to play but in the end, everyone had the same emotion and feeling of achievement.
Because time was so pressured during rehearsals, people didn’t have a chance to stand back and look at what was being achieved. When we got to the end of the first performance, everyone was able to step back and see the reaction that they got. From professionals to non-professionals and students, to have that acknowledgement of achievement in the same moment together was really quite special.
The Jingah Project residency shows what can be achieved when individuals and organisations work in partnership to champion art and culture and create new opportunities for communities, including children and young people.