PARTICIPATION

Townsend Theatre Productions’ work always has an element of audience interaction:

“Interactive Theatre is a presentational or theatrical form or work that breaks the ‘fourth wall’ that traditionally separates the performer from the audience both physically and verbally”
Children’s theatre, including British pantomime and other traditional and popular forms (commercial musicals that encourage the audience to join in songs for example), often make use of audience participation or interaction, or have audience activities as familiar parts of their codes of behaviour. Townsend Productions often use devices of interaction to encourage audience involvement: to ultimately keep the audience engaged and entertained; to maintain interaction not just with the performance, but with the issues that we raise in the content of our plays and performances.
We also wish to go beyond that and are also looking for opportunities for longer term involvement in research, conception, devising and reception of performances, as well as participation in workshops that will never reach an audience at all.

PARTICIPATION

Townsend Theatre Productions’ work always has an element of audience interaction:

“Interactive Theatre is a presentational or theatrical form or work that breaks the ‘fourth wall’ that traditionally separates the performer from the audience both physically and verbally”
Children’s theatre, including British pantomime and other traditional and popular forms (commercial musicals that encourage the audience to join in songs for example), often make use of audience participation or interaction, or have audience activities as familiar parts of their codes of behaviour. Townsend Productions often use devices of interaction to encourage audience involvement: to ultimately keep the audience engaged and entertained; to maintain interaction not just with the performance, but with the issues that we raise in the content of our plays and performances.
We also wish to go beyond that and are also looking for opportunities for longer term involvement in research, conception, devising and reception of performances, as well as participation in workshops that will never reach an audience at all.

COMMUNITY THEATRE PRODUCTIONS

  • Forthcoming Community Projects

    Ruskin College Oxford 2017-2018

    Townsend Theatre Productions and Ruskin College Oxford are joining forces to create a new adult education Performing Arts Course that will focus on the background to the creative process of making plays for performance.  The course will run from September 2017 to July 2018, and will culminate in a large community project and performance with Ruskin course students and members of Oxford’s local community in the Summer term 2018, to take place in grounds of Ruskin College itself.

    More details of the course and the community project will be posted very soon.

    PARTICIPATION
  • HOMELESSNESS

    2016

    Townsend Theatre Productions in partnership with Hertfordshire Council’s Youth Connexions/Services for Young People created a project for young care leavers to investigate the subject of homelessness, which culminated in a short performance for an audience of young people and adults in Hatfield.

    Over 4 months, the project involved participatory workshops which led to devising scenes and solo poetry and speeches from personal experience of homelessness and issues with the care and welfare system in Welwyn, Hatfield and Hertsmere areas in Hertfordshire. The aim of the project was also to encourage access for young people to explore theatrical techniques to tell their own stories and find ways to build personal confidence.

    PARTICIPATION
  • ON THE ROAD TO FREEDOM

    A Choir and Community Project - 2015
    In association with Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre

    THE PROJECT

    Townsend Productions and Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre in conjunction with the Library created a community project based on the National Chartist Hymn Book:

    “This very exciting and unique project will centre around The National Chartist Hymn Book, and the participating choirs and groups will be the first to sing some of these hymns for over 150 years, as the only surviving copy of the book was discovered just three years ago.

    Working with academics from the University of Manchester and with revered folk singer and musician, John Kirkpatrick, tunes and arrangements will be created that are thought to be or mirror the original tunes. There is also the opportunity to include other relevant songs of the period that also reflect the times and the aims of the Chartist Movement.

    There will also be different musical styles, speeches, playlets and a dance element to provide a narrative thread, as well as an opportunity for academic lectures on the importance of the little book and it's contents to the history of the country and Chartism.”

    We encouraged involvement from all forms of community activity to contribute to the project, such as music groups and drama groups, and the event was not just a celebration of this little book and the people that desired necessary social change, but created a modern, contemporary approach to the performance of the songs and retelling of these stories; it reflected, too, current community activities.

    The songs themselves are unique and powerful and were a brilliant excuse for a "Great Sing!"

    Chartism

    Chartism was a working-class movement for political reform in Britain which existed from 1838 to 1858. It took its name from the People's Charter of 1838 and was a national protest movement.
    The Charter demanded:

    1. Universal Suffrage.
    2. Vote by Secret Ballot.
    3. No Property Qualifications.
    4. Payment of Members.
    5. Equal Representation.
    6. Annual Parliaments.

     The demands for freedom as an inherent human right and the insistence that everyone, however poor, is entitled to such rights, reflect the religious roots of revolt. Through the Industrial Revolution we hear the voices of the Chartists, with their call for annual Parliaments, and a much clearer definition of what freedom means, and it's relationship to education:

    "Behind universal suffrage I want to see that knowledge in the mind, that principle in the heart, that power in the conscience, that strength in the right arm that would enable the working man to meet his master boldly, upright on his feet, without the brand mark of the bondman upon his brow, and without the blush of shame and slavery upon his cheek." - JR Stephens, 1838.

    Support for the movement was at its highest in 1839, 1842 and 1848 when petitions signed by millions of working people were presented to the House of Commons.

    The National Chartist Hymn Book

    In 2011 a tiny 165-year-old pamphlet, previously unknown and uncatalogued, containing the lyrics of 16 hymns was discovered in Todmorden Library in the North of England. This is believed to be the only Chartist Hymnal in existence. Its rarity is quite unique as even the British Library doesn’t have a copy. Heavily influenced by dissenting Christians, the hymns are about social justice, 'striking down evil doers' and blessing Chartist enterprises, rather than the conventional themes of crucifixion, heaven and family. Rather than the crucifixion or Christ's glory, the focus of the hymns is a cry for liberty. Some of the hymns protested against the exploitation of child labour and slavery. Another of the hymns proclaimed: 'Men of wealth and men of power/ Like locusts all thy gifts devour.' Two of the hymns celebrate the martyrs of the movement. "Great God! Is this the Patriot's Doom?" was composed for the funeral of Samuel Holberry, the Sheffield Chartist leader, who died in prison in 1843, while another honours John Frost, Zephaniah Williams and William Jones, the Chartist leaders transported to Tasmania in the aftermath of the Newport rising of 1839.

    The project involved amongst many:

    The Wing Singers; choir director – Jill Neenan
    Leighton Buzzard Youth Theatre; director – Chris Amos
    Ballet dancers from Vine Arts Centre, Berkhamsted – Tomomi Sato and Alexander Gore
    Musicians from music sessions around Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire
    Volunteer performers and musicians from the Leighton Buzzard area

    For Townsend Theatre Productions:
    Louise Townsend – Director
    Neil Gore, Rhiannon Meades – performers and musicians
    John Kirkpatrick – musical director
    Dr. Michael Sanders – University of Manchester, senior lecturer in 19th Century writing, esp. early Victorian literature and culture; Chartist and radical literature
    Doug Nicholls – general secretary of General Federation of Trade Unions

    PARTICIPATION
    PARTICIPATION
  • YEAR 13 A-LEVEL DEVISING UNIT

    Education Project – Vandyke School, Leighton Buzzard - 2015

     “Townsend Theatre Productions’ production of ‘United We Stand’ and ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ has inspired our Year 13 students to undertake their own research into Ricky Tomlinson’s campaign, and into the wider history of Trade Unions. In response, students devised their own pieces for their ‘A’-Level Devising Unit, making great use of a huge range of Brechtian devices that incorporated video footage of Ricky Tomlinson’s campaign, cartoon clips demonstrating the power of collective action as well as the use of their own songs and music. The far reaching impact of Louise and Neil’s work was clear to see.

    Our students produced stunning, powerful drama of their own, and the impact of the plays on their knowledge and learning was reflected in their performances and their written portfolios about the project.

    "Thank you Louise and Neil: you have inspired young people to produce top quality drama themselves, and encouraged them to find out more about the powerful issues raised in your work.” 
    -Sarah Barcock (Head of Drama, Vandyke School, Leighton Buzzard) 

     

    PARTICIPATION