The latest project from Wonder Fools in association with Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre, featuring in their unique digital Traverse Festival Programme has seen 107 groups from 51 schools, theatres and community groups across the UK sign up in just over six weeks since it was announced. The original aim to have 70 registered groups by the end of the seven-month project next March has already been surpassed and the numbers keep growing, demonstrative of the ongoing thirst for arts, culture and a sense of community as the challenges of 2020 continue.
The Glasgow theatre company has enlisted five of the UK’s most exciting playwrights to create a programme of plays to be gifted to young people – aged eight to 25 – across the country to perform and adapt as they wish, for free. Positive Stories for Negative Times is a direct response to the lack of physical spaces for young people to participate in creative activities currently, and the detrimental impact that this is having on their mental health and wellbeing.
Working with those from isolated areas, marginalised groups and vulnerable young people, Positive Stories for Negative Times is providing a new outlet to nurture creativity, encourage the exchange of new skills and ideas and provide a safe space online that could have a genuine impact on young people’s experience during the global pandemic.
Locations of those taking part so far includes Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dumfries and Galloway, Fife, Alloa, Mull, Aberdeen, Angus, Falkirk, West Lothian, East Lothian, Ayrshire, Dundee, Perth, North Berwick, London, Manchester, Oxford, Nottingham, Sussex, Northampton, Buxton, Malvern and Dorset. It has also garnered international interest with groups in Iceland and Oregon before it was officially announced.
Wonder Fools will provide a framework of how to rehearse, direct and record the works, with specific guidance on how to deliver the project in total lockdown, through blended learning or completely live in the space – a format that enables the work to continue despite changes in government guidelines. It’s entirely free and comes with a handbook that will help teachers and group leaders deliver the work whether that be live or remotely.
Suzie Lundy, curriculum leader of music and drama at Edinburgh’s Royal High School commented: “Positive Stories for Negative Times is a wonderful project providing a platform for young people’s creativity and engagement at a time when they need it most. The coronavirus pandemic has limited their lives and their opportunities through the impact of lockdown and ongoing restrictions, not least through the closures of theatres and other creative venues. The Wonder Fools project gives them back the chance to create their own work and engage with professionals in the industry. It is innovative and exciting in its design and we are thrilled to able to participate.”
Positive Stories for Negative Times runs through to March 2021, so there’s still plenty of time for new groups to register via the website now at positivestories.scot.
All performed plays will be uploaded and hosted on the bespoke platform accessible anywhere in the world where participants can see other interpretations of the same play, share with their families who can watch from afar and most importantly, continue to celebrate young people’s work in the arts despite most theatres being closed until 2021.