New project for ethnic arts

CULTURAL diversity is the driving force behind a new project aimed at bringing ethnic communities into the arts and on to the stage.Way Black East has been launched by the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich to focus on the experiences of people of different cultures living in the east of England.

CULTURAL diversity is the driving force behind a new project aimed at bringing ethnic communities into the arts and on to the stage.

Way Black East has been launched by the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich to focus on the experiences of people of different cultures living in the east of England.

It will run for two years and, utilising their ideas, beliefs and values, will culminate in the creation of a new play.

It aims to give all those involved a forum in which to express the difficulties they face in maintaining their cultural heritage and identity and provide opportunities and skills to do it through performance and creative writing.

Project leader Mary Swan, associate director at the New Wolsey, said: "We're trying to create a commissioned piece that reflects culturally diverse communities.

"It will accurately reflect their experience of trying to hold on to their culture heritage and identity in a rural area, an area that isn't a big city.

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"This is a culturally diverse area and it's about time we started to celebrate that."

Mary will be working alongside writer Dolly Dhingra, whose play Unsuitable Girls comes to the New Wolsey later this month. She has been commissioned to write the eventual Way Black East play.

Together they will run the first phase of free workshop sessions in writing and drama at host centres in Ipswich, at the Murrayside Community Centre and the Ipswich Caribbean Association, and two in Forest Heath. The first session will be at Murrayside Community Centre on April 22. The workshops will run on a drop-in basis so anyone interested will not face the pressure of having to attend every session.

Mary said: "They'll be really casual and fun. We want to create a fun environment for people to drop in and join us."

Phase two of Way Black East will take the project a step forward and, while the workshops will continue, nucleus groups will be formed to get involved in the creation of the commissioned play.

They will be directly involved in the research and development of the final piece, consulted at every step of the process.

Mary said: "Participants will be able to read drafts as they come in so we ensure the finished article is an accurate depiction and reflection of communities in the eastern region.

"We will always try to consult and inform these communities from the writing right up to production of the play. Even when the play is being produced these groups will be involved all the way through. They will have real ownership of the piece."

Throughout the project, Felix Cross, artistic director of theatre company Nitro, will act as advisor. He said: "Not only have we got a writer and a theatre and not only have we got people from the community, we've got people from that community who in turn come from different communities, all with different expectations."

n The first workshop session for Way Black East will be held at Murrayside Community Centre, Nacton Road, between 7pm and 8pm on April 22.

Anyone wishing to take part in the workshops can contact Mary Swan on 01473 295917, e-mail mswan@wolseytheatre.co.uk or simply turn up at the session.

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www.wolseytheatre.co.uk

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