With Bryony Kimmings, Douglas Maxwell, Hannah Lavery, Debris Stevenson, The PappyShow, Wonder Fools and Ellen Bannerman all featuring in the international participatory project for young people
Positive Stories for Negative Times created by Wonder Fools in association with Traverse Theatre is back with an incredible lineup of the UK’s most exciting voices. Following the huge success of the inaugural programme, Season Two launches today, 22 June 2021 at positivestories.scot.
The first season – launched in August 2020 as part of the digital Traverse Festival Programme – was created as a direct response to the lack of physical spaces for young people to participate in performance, and the detrimental impact this is having on their mental health and wellbeing. A staggering 2,607 young people and 282 groups spanning from the Outer Hebrides to Madrid, and York to Quebec performed first season’s plays, which end next month – making way for a new raft of artists and groups to get involved later this summer. Submissions for Season One are still available to watch on the project website.
Season Two, aimed at engaging an even broader network of people aged between 6 and 25 has been created with a focus on coming together, embarking on new processes and changing the way we think about theatre for young people. Wonder Fools and the Traverse Theatre have again co-commissioned a new group of the UK’s most prominent artists to create new work relevant to the here and now, which will act as stimulus for creative projects for young people around the world. Sign ups are open now and the plays will be available from the beginning of September.
Spyrates (Spies vs Pirates): Journey to the Forbidden Island by Robbie Gordon and Jack Nurse (6+) – From Co-Founders and Artistic Directors of Wonder Fools, comes Spyrates, a play for up to 100 6+ year olds. Featuring spies, pirates, robots, talking animals and everything in between, this is an interactive, playful and imaginative adventure story.
At First I Was Afraid (I Was Petrified!) by Douglas Maxwell (11+)– When things feel too tough moving up into a new school, to manage her anxiety, Cleo starts to get creative in an old Descendants’ diary – her worry book – but everything she writes starts to come true, so she tries writing down positive ideas…. A fast-paced comedy drama with loads of bright characters, big set pieces, twists and turns and a huge sing-a-long happy ending… oh, and a mad bit with a Fairy Godperson.
The Raven by Hannah Lavery (11+)- Lament to Sheku Bayoh writer and director Hannah Lavery’s The Raven is both an adventure and an exploration of what shapes and what divides us, exploring issues of blended families, bullying, overeating, depression and isolation.
Thanks for Nothing by The PappyShow (11+)- Celebrating life’s quiet moments of gratitude and joy, Thanks for Nothing will be a blueprint for a show encouraging loads of devising and playing with narrative and form from the playful, physical and visual ensemble that is The PappyShow, created in collaboration with award-winning playright Lewis Hetherington.
Revolting by Bryony Kimmings (13+) – Multi-Award winning playwright, performer, documentary maker and screenwriter Bryony Kimmings’ Climate Crisis play Revolting asks, if we’re agents of the revolution – how do we revolt? This ‘paint-by-numbers’ play will put the control firmly in the hands of the creators – let’s imagine a new system (there may be flying cars and free money and loads of dancing and pizza parties) but also positive solutions to climate change.
The Skirt by Ellen Bannerman (15+) – Traverse Young Writer Ellen Bannerman’s The Skirt is an absurdist parable for the next generation of feminists, based on Gogol’s short story: ‘The Nose’. Wearing a short skirt to school on the day of the Head Girl election should be an irrelevant outfit choice – but when Kay is sexually harassed on her way to school, she pulls out of the race, but her short skirt has other ideas and much like Gogol’s The Nose, enters the race for Head Girl in its own right.
Write to Rave: Step Pon by Debris Stevenson (18+) – Grime poet, dyslexic writer and working-class academic Debris Stevenson presents Write to Rave: Step Pon – a play about the political power of rave. Who has the right to rave, to dance and move freely? What is it to feel truly free in their own skin? It tells the story a queer group of humans trying their best to rave whilst the world tries its best to stop them.
Each writer has been working with the newly established Positive Stories Youth Board to ensure that the plays are not only made for young people, but with them too, the aim to create something for everyone no matter their size, age or experience of making theatre.
As part of the project, participating group leaders will have access to regular online workshops with the seven artists and the Wonder Fools team to build on ideas, provide some pointers on best practice and allow for sharing and discussion between groups and their projects.
On the success of the project to date and the new season announcement, Wonder Fools said,
“We are thrilled to be launching Season 2 of Positive Stories for Negative Times with the Traverse Theatre. Being able to engage so many young people around the world through Season 1 was an utter joy and to see such creativity arise from lockdown has been a privilege. Season 2 sees us work alongside our Youth Board to commission 7 incredible artists with an exciting range of work to serve the needs of different groups across the world and tell stories that young people can connect with.
“This season we have opened up the project to invite submissions from all kinds of groups across different art forms allowing young people to flex their creative muscles and celebrate the process of what they make. That may be performance, film, creative writing, blogs – you name it. We have also responded to the needs of youth group leaders and incorporated a programme of free professional development into the programme for them to engage with remotely throughout the project. We can’t wait to meet groups from around the world and to see what they come up with.”
The plays, written specifically for the times we are living in, will be free to participating groups from September 2021 – March 2022, with groups from anywhere in the world being encouraged to join in. No set outcome or end result has been defined. The focus is on the process – starting with a Positive Stories play as a stimulus and then creating anything you want it to be – a film, a performance, a piece of music, a letter to their local MP or any other creative outlet.
Groups can include youth theatres, schools, colleges or anyone working with young people in need of some creativity and connection. All participating groups will be sent their chosen script to perform rights free and a handbook of exercises to help their group explore the play. For those brand new to theatre and performance, the handbook provides a step-by-step guide through the process. The plays are a starting point created to inspire different kinds of work. These can live either live in the space, through blended learning or completely online.
Wonder Fools are inviting any group working with young people to get involved. They will be given a pin on a virtual map and page on the project’s bespoke website where their work will be celebrated with other participants around the UK and beyond.
To sign up or to find out more visit positivestories.scot.
Positive Stories for Negative Times Season 2 is produced by Wonder Fools in association with the Traverse Theatre and is supported by Creative Scotland, Chance to Succeed, Foundation Scotland Response Recovery & Resilience Fund, William Syson foundation, Christina Mary Hendrie Trust, Hugh Fraser Foundation, Gordon Fraser Charitable Trust and the Inchyre Trust.