We’re working on a very exciting project withArchbishop Sentamu school in East Hull.
Last September, the school launched a new scholarship programme to give young people gifted and talented in drama extracurricular time, helping to further their skills and offer workshops with industry professionals. With ever-increasing cuts to the arts and severe lack of support from the government at a time when young people need it most to help deal with academic pressures and self-belief, pursuing a career in the arts can seem unachievable for young people from a disadvantaged area. The Spotlight programme was designed to give them a helping hand.
We suggested Jane Godber write a play. Meanwhile, Gary Hammond, The Beautiful South’s percussionist, was trying to raise money to build a permanent memorial to eight men from Hull who went to fight in the Spanish Civil War – only four returned – and asked if we could help by writing a play to raise awareness of their sacrifice. Jane has put the two things together and the result is Ocho (“eight” in Spanish), a new play set in Hull and Spain that tells their story and that of the wives they left behind. Much of the research has been done with the families and friends of the eight men who still live in Hull and the surrounding area.
We applied for City of Culture Funding, but despite the fact that the school lies in the 16th most deprived area of the UK and the involvement of top drawer creatives, we didn’t get it. Determined not to let the kids down, we decided to do it anyway and go bigger! John Godber Company set up a fundraising campaign, put in the first donation ourselves, and have now raised £26,000. We are now not just performing at the school but in various venues around Hull and East Yorkshire, then taking the 18-strong cast to perform at the Institute for the Arts in Barcelona.
The Ocho project provides the young people involved with the opportunity to work with professionals on all aspects of the production. They are amazingly talented, committed and a joy to work with. Jane has written the script and is directing for free, Dave Rotheray of the Beautiful South has written the music and songs for free, and Hull firms and individuals (including Lord Prescott) have contributed to the fund.
We have a professional designer, Lucy Weller, who has worked at the National and the Royal Court. She is working for a very small fee, and professional technicians and lighting designers are also donating their time.
As well as giving these young people a once in a lifetime experience, we are hoping that it will also give them the confidence to apply to university and drama schools. All proceeds from this year will go into the scholarship fund in order to give the same opportunity to a new group of pupils next year.
We start performing in Hull on 26 June and go to Barcelona on 10 July, where as well as performing, the young people will enjoy cultural tours of the city and talks on the Spanish Civil War. Some of these young people have rarely been out of Hull.
Please support us by purchasing a ticket:
Archbishop Sentamu School, 27-30 June 2017
Howden Shire Hall, 5 July 2017
East Riding Theatre, Beverley, 6 July 2017
Institute of the Arts, Sitges, Barcelona, 11 July 2017
Hope to see you there!