The Inn Crowd Project Welcomes Its First BSL-Interpreted Show

As well as our rural touring live performance scheme, we run a number of other projects focused at supporting different communities across East Anglia to have access to fantastic live performances. One of these is the Inn Crowd project – which helps rural pub landlords put on live spoken-word style shows in the comfort of their pub, helping them to bring in more customers, offer something different for their regulars, and reinforce the pub as a vibrant, central part of rural community life.

We’ve been heading up this project in East Anglia for the last few years (it is also run in Kent and Sussex by Applause Rural Touring), with support from Pub Is The Hub, the National Centre for Writing, and funding from Arts Council England. We’ve had some amazing writers, poets and performers on the project, and have commissioned new work to be created specifically for pubs audiences through our Writers in Residence programme.

One such commission was a new show by acclaimed stand-up poet Luke Wright. Luke has previously toured through Inn Crowd with a show called Down the Pub with Luke Wright, a selection of his poems specially chosen for pub audiences, which was a huge hit last season. He received our ‘Writers in Residence’ funding back in 2018, staying at various rural pubs across East Anglia gathering stories and inspiration to influence a new show. Since then, he has been touring the country with his new 5-star show Poet LaureateThe Guardian has described the poems in this show as “rumbling with rage, passion and humour. They are also peppered with brilliantly smart observations”, noting that audiences “will leave his show brimming with energy, heart pounding and brain whirring.” He has another performance this weekend, and whilst we look forward to all our Inn Crowd shows, this will be a show with a difference…

Luke’s performance of Poet Laureate at The Banham Barrel pub this Sunday 14th April at 8pm will be the first ever Inn Crowd show to be accompanied by BSL interpretation. The Banham Barrel, run by father-daughter duo Brian and Niamh McAllister, is a new pub on our Inn Crowd circuit, and we’re delighted to welcome them on board. This will be their very first show with us but they are no stranger to offering live entertainment to their customers, hosting lots of music events in the ‘Back Room’, an amazing space they describe as their ‘not-so-secret’ gig venue. They have previously shown a fantastic commitment to opening up their space to the D/deaf community, holding sign-language cafes and other events, and it was their idea to bring in BSL communication for their first Inn Crowd show. As Creative Arts East’s main mission not just through the Inn Crowd project but as a charity in general is to open up the arts to audiences who might face barriers to accessibility, it was a no-brainer for us to make this happen and fund them to bring in an interpreter.

The approach The Banham Barrel are taking to reach out to people in the D/deaf community has come in part from the landlord’s daughter Niamh’s own experiences with hearing problems, which started last year. After realising she was relying heavily on lip-reading, she took a hearing test and was told she needed to wear a hearing aid at the age of 20. This then spurred The Barrel on to hold BSL sign language lessons for the village community. You can find out more about Niamh and the Banham Barrel’s outreach work with the deaf community here in this recent EDP article and BBC Look East coverage.

Luke Wright’s Poet Laureate is on at The Banham Barrel on Sunday 14th April, at 8pm. The show is completely free – no booking required. For more information on the show, check out our website here.

P.s. Our Communications & Content Officer Zoe went along to The Banham Barrel yesterday, to chat to Landlord Brian and his daughter Niamh, as well as reporter Shaun Peel of BBC Look East. We’re hoping to see a little piece about the show on this weekend’s news – so keep your eyes peeled! 

 

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Village Halls Week: A Rural Touring Legacy Story

From 22nd to 28th January, we’re celebrating Village Halls Week! This is an initiative run by ACRE (Action for Communities in Rural England) to acknowledge village halls and other community buildings which exist at the heart of England’s rural communities. The whole of the NRTF (National Rural Touring Forum, of which we are a member) have been getting involved.

For us here at Creative Arts East, village halls are particularly important as they make up such a large part of our rural touring network and community cinema scheme. We work with over 100 different voluntary promoting groups each year, many of whom sit on village hall committees and host fantastic arts and cultural events in village halls and community centres. These events are such a vital part of the community, and facilitating rural access to some truly wonderful film screenings and live performances is something we’re incredibly passionate about.

Earlier this month, we were contacted by one of our lovely voluntary promoters, Jane Leitch from Freckenham Village Hall. She sent us an article written by her 16 year old nephew Rowan, all about his experience watching Farnham Maltings’ show Brilliance in Freckenham last November. We absolutely loved reading it, and the whole family was happy for it to be shared. We think it really emphasises the impact of rural touring, and how the legacy of going to a local village hall to see a fantastic professional theatre show really is a family affair.

My name is Rowan Black I’ve been attending performances at Freckenham village hall for more than a decade now. And from a young age have been spell bound by the unique art of the theatre especially the impact of performances in such an intimate performance space. This interest has blossomed into a passion for drama and I am now studying A level drama.

Brilliance was nothing short of brilliant. With well thought out minimalistic staging brought alive by seeing it in its intended setting (a village hall).The live music which was played in transitions through out the performance was incredibly effective in creating and heightening the emotions presented with in the performance and being able to see the musicians made myself as an audience member feel like I was part of the story.  Other notable techniques used was the outstanding setting of the seen involved a sack of soil and some toy buildings which though simplistic was extremely efficient at engagingly setting the story. The use of lighting was also very useful for presenting the day and night cycle. The highly charged final scenes had a the audience on the edge of their seats

In short an outstanding performance and I loved every second of it.

(Rowan Black, aged 16)

 

Freckenham Village Hall has been a member of our scheme since 2001, and over this time Jane has programmed a wide variety of performances for her local community, both through CAE and independently. Her nephew Rowan has been going to these events from a young age, and some of his first experiences of live theatre have been Creative Arts East-support rural touring shows. Jane works so hard to give back to her community, and Rowan’s review of Brilliance is a testament to her incredible efforts, as well as to the power of great theatre.

If this has inspired you to support your local village hall or community hub, check out our website to see what’s happening near you!