Sheffield Foyer Residents Celebrate!

 

Sheffield Foyer residents celebrate at Sheffield Hallam University Void Film Theatre.
Young people from Sheffield Foyer celebrate at Sheffield Hallam University Void Film Theatre.

Young people and guests attended a night of screenings and celebrations hosted by Sheffield Foyer at The VOID Film Theatre, Sheffield Hallam University.  The night started with a reception, followed by screenings of the young peoples work. The screening featured a specially commissioned spoof documentary, and colourful dynamic presentations created by residents about their personal journeys. The highlight of the night was the premiere screening of ‘Rumour Has It’, a super hero spoof story inspired by Shakespeare and the Healthy Conversations project themes. The story featured residents and staff taking on the roles of super heroes and super villains as they battled for the hearts and minds of Foyer residents with relationship troubles. In the story an idea from Othello makes an appearance in the form of the ‘Green Eyed Monster’, aided by the super villains, destroys relationships and creates bad vibes. The super heroes fight back and encourage those with relationship troubles to work thru them and not believe every rumour being spread.

The event was attended by friends, family and specially invited guests. Each resident involved in the project was presented with a framed print version of their presentation. The event was ably compared by Foyer youth workers Andy Outten and Lisa White who gave an overview of the project and injected enthusiasm and passion into the evenings proceedings .

“In all my 18 years as a trustee for Sheffield Foyer, I have never seen the young people so engaged, so enthused by a project. Well done – this is fantastic work!”

“This has been a really great thing for us to do – I loved It”

“I was really impressed with the screening and the films – well done to everyone!”

“I really want to do this again”

I’m going to write more, this project has really helped me to write and I want to write more stories”

“I’ve got two detective hats now!”

While the event unfortunately brings to an end the collaborations between the Othello Unbound project and residents and staff at Sheffield Foyer, the project has created opportunities for music artist Javan Wright  to continue deliver song writing workshops to Foyer residents and the possibility of Destinations Arts collaborating with Sheffield Foyer again in the near future.

Special thanks to Maxine Greaves MBE, Equality and Community Engagement Business Support Manager for supporting the Othello Unbound project!

Othello Unboud Delivers at SDCS Deaf Childrens Club

Destinations Arts delivers a fun packed session at Sheffield Deaf Children’s Society Youth Club!

As part of the Othello unbound project we worked with children and young people from the Sheffield Deaf Children’s Society Youth Club.

during our first session we had fun exploring characters and emotions. The young people dressed up and engaged in role play around the theme of emotions.  We captured their explorations on video.  the young people were able to watch their  performances and make changes .  They also a chance to see what other young people had been doing on the Othello Unbound project and use some of their ideas in their role play.  This is fantastic signed on of the participants.

During the second session we used clay to create characters based on Othello’s emotions. Young people created green-eyed monsters, and used some of the role play ideas developed in the previous session to create a series of short animations.

 

SDCS Green Eyed Monster
The ‘Green Eyed monster from Othello Vs Bart Simpson

Action Research

The project used action research trial and improvement methods as a way to engage deaf young people in the creative use of digital media.  According to research into the education of Deaf children, there is a lack of opportunity for deaf young people to thrive in mainstream education. The project hoped to address this by providing fun activities in order to kickstart  more prolonged engagements in future.

Issues around getting BSL support during sessions – BSL signers needed to be booked weeks in advance – meant that sessions were not as long or as intensive as originally hoped. However, the young people really enjoyed the sessions and both parents and volunteers commented on the benefits of such activity for the participants.  A member of the reader project group attended the session as was able to share ideas and engage with young people during the session.

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“This has been a really good experience when are you coming back!” A parent

“I’ve really enjoyed today” A participant

“This is fun I like making things with clay. I loved seeing my creature come alive” A participant

“This is my green eyed monster its square with sharp teeth and is really mean!”

“It was a great, I really enjoyed the fact that I got to work with so many deaf young people.  We got to dress up and act things out. I was nervous because I have never worked with young people who can’t hear very well before, but It was a LOT of fun! I ‘d like to do this again!” Reader Project participant

IMG_0868Engaging Young People in Shakespeare.

This activity was part of the Othello Unbound project, which creatively explores Shakespeare’s Othello.  The Othello Unbound project is supported by Sheffield Hallam University and funded by Arts Council England using public money and is delivered by Destinations Arts, a creative initiative that uses digital arts to engage and hard to reach communities in creative activities.

 

Singing Fruit – Makeymakey at The Foyer

Makeymakey board at the Sheffield Foyer

Makeymakey at Sheffield Foyer
Sheffield Foyer residents get to play with fruit – literally!

As an introduction to the Othello Unbound project, young people got a chance to play with fruit and a makeymakey device. Destinations Arts set up a digital tech workshop for residents at the Sheffield Foyer a housing initiative for homeless young people.

Word soon went around the building that people were pressing fruit and making music. Numbers grew from a few interested people to a large group crowding around the device. Residents took turns unplugging and reconnecting the makeymakey, rearranging fruit, trying different fruit, holding the earth cable and changing sounds the fruit triggered. It was getting so popular that at this point Foyer staff joined in!

A few residents even recorded their voices and got the makeymakey to trigger playback.

If you’ve not used a makeymakey before it’s a little circuit board a little bigger than a credit card with input holes for croc-clip ended wires. You connect one end to the board input and the other into something conductive, i.e., fruit! You then connect a USB cable from the device to your computer and voila you have a new input device that will trigger an event on your computer.

To make this all work you need to do a bit of coding. The makeymakey triggers a software instrument, the coding which  was completed in Scratch, a fun programming environment developed by MIT lifelong learning programme.

Caption: Musical Fruit engages Makeymakey at Sheffield Foyer

The Makeymakey Piano

You can check out the makeymakey board yourself and have a go at coding with Scratch. With version 2 of Scratch you can now do this online.

This was the first session held at Sheffield Foyer. and the feedback has been fantastic. One resident said; “when Andy told me I didn’t believe him – musical fruit, I had to check it out for myself! No way!”

This activity was part of the Othello Unbound project, which creatively explores Shakespeare’s Othello and gives young people in difficult circumstances creative opportunities! These sessions, delivered in partnership with Foyer staff, aimed to help vulnerable young people in the shelter develop motivation, self-confidence and increase life choices by offering training and inspirational activities.

The Othello Unbound project is supported by Sheffield Hallam University and funded by Arts Council England using public money and is delivered by Destinations Arts, a creative initiative that uses digital arts to engage and hard to reach communities in creative activities.

Foyer Photo Bombs!

Hollywood LAAfter the brilliantly successful makeymakey session at Sheffield Foyer, came the photo session. This was another fun session designed to introduce residents to some of the role play aspects of the Othello Unbound project.

We set up a green screen studio with lightboxes for residents to pose in front of. However, things got a little carried away. Residents descended into the clothes box and mixed all manner of costumes and props to create a bizarre array of detectives, gangsters, superheroes, weird pigs with beards, and tiara wearing princesses. As usual the staff jumped in and created some strange tableauxs!

“This has been one of the biggest turnouts ever. said one of the key workers. “It’s been brilliant!” said a resident dressed as a dog. “I was having a really bad day this morning now my mood has completely changed.”

While most were happy to play around with the costumes and props bag, some residents didn’t want to join in the dress up. But they still got an opportunity to take part. We took pictures of their heads and shoulders which residents can use for various official documents including ID cards, passports and driving licenses. In offering this option, the project was able to help residents by offering practical support.

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The following week Destinations Arts helped the residents to edit their pictures. Many wanted to get rid of the dayglo green background and replace it with another image. Beaches, carnivals and red carpet style hollywood vistas were popular. Removing backgrounds involved some delicate control of the computers mouse, and some decent picture editing software. We used Pixlr, an online image editor that allows you to create transparent layers and do loads of things that you can do in Photoshop. Pixlr lets you do this for free and it’s accessible anytime you need it as long as you have a decent internet connection.

Hard to Reach

This activity was part of the Othello Unbound project, which creativley explores Shakespeare’s Othello and gives young people in difficult circumstances creative opportunities! These sessions, delivered in partnership with Foyer staff, aimed to help vulnerable young people in the shelter develop motivation, self-confidence and increase life choices by offering training and inspirational activities.

The Othello Unbound project is supported by Sheffield Hallam University and funded by Arts Council England using public money and is delivered by Destinations Arts, a creative initiative that uses digital arts to engage and hard to reach communities in creative activities.

Othello Unbound: Digital Shakespeare with Destinations Arts

Feedback from Othello Unbound workshop with KES Students
Feedback from Othello Unbound workshop with KES Students

During our session with students from King Edwards VII School in Sheffield, they  created an impromptu performance inspired by one of Shakespeare’s’ sonnets!

The workshop was based at the Owen building at Sheffield Hallam University’s City Campus at Sheffield. The students initially explored the differences between school and University life. The session then focussed on research and performance skills. After further  exploring relationships and racial prejudice themes in Othello, the very enthusiastic group split into two to rewrite and perform Shakespeare’s’ Sonnet 127. This Sonnet if from Shakespeare’s ‘Dark Lady’ series of  sonnets that explore notions of blackness that go against most common conceptions of Elizabethan thinking.

The Performance

Working with Destinations Arts and supported by musician and performer JKAS,  an experienced song writer, the group adapted Shakespeare’s work and added newlines to Sonnet 127. The sonnet starts;

“In the old age black was not counted fair,
Or if it were, it bore not beauty’s name.
But now is black beauty’s successive heir,

The piece with the added lines (new lines in bold);

In the old age black was not counted fair,
“Well if you look now black beauty is everywhere”
Or if it were, it bore not beauty’s name
“Well if you look now you see how far black beauty came”
But now is black beauty’s successive heir
“With such elegance, dignity and full of flair”

Sonnet 127

The group took turns performing each line to a beat heavy instrumental soundtrack. The groups repeated their performance subtly changing the emphasis on arts and adapting their posture and delivery with feedback from the support staff and the interplay between make and female voices. They also tried different beats continuously adapting their delivery until they felt confident enough to do a complete performance.

During this part of the session, students became so confident that they were able to develop their own freestyle performance.

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Supporting Active Learners

Students attending the workshop were selected because their teachers felt these students needed extra support to engage and inspire them to grow as active learners.

Destinations Arts champions creative ways to activley engage school students at all levels. This project is about engaging learners from all backgrounds in academic research, offering them challenging creative opportunities with a focus on giving students from families with little experience of FE and HE, a positive experience of University life.

Outcomes

One of the sessions outcomes was that students began to develop a deeper understanding of Shakespeare’s’ use of Iambic Pentameter, develop their confidence in a higher educational setting and raise aspirations to continue their education after school.

As part of our monitoring and evaluation strategy  we allowed asked students to use the white board spaces to write or draw or doodle their  thoughts throughout the session. The above images show a snapshot of students opinions before and after the sessions. Comments went from “boring” in the beginning to surprising and ‘interesting at the workshops conclusion; from “Long!” in the beginning to “amazing – sick!” at the workshops conclusion. Other comments included ‘freedom’, ‘dream chaser’ and makes me feel more in sync with people’

The students were also supported by a Sheffield Hallam University student trainee.  Who took images of the sessions and got involved with the performance. We also used Apple ipads extensively during the workshop; as workstations, to read lyrics from, in the performance and to document activities.

Special thanks to Ben Spiller from 1623 Theatre for introducing Sonnet 127 to the Othello Unbound project.

Special thanks to Maxine Greaves MBE, Equality and Community Engagement Business Support Manager for supporting and hosting the workshop at Sheffield Hallam University. The Othello Unbound project is funded by Arts Council England using public money and is delivered by Destinations Arts, a creative initiative that uses digital arts to engage and hard to reach communities in creative activities.

#othellounbound

All’s Quill the Ends Quill During Othello Unbound!

Quill writing during the Othello Unbound Project
Poetry written with coloured inks and Quills during the Othello Unbound Project

Othello Inspires Creativity!

Sorry for the terrible pun! But as events come to a close with this particular phase of the Othello Unbound project at Cambian Oaks, we should reflect, no celebrate the fantastic work completed by residents at Cambian Oaks and we will be posting some of it for all to enjoy soon.

So far Destinations Arts’ Jenson Grant and freelance artist Jennifer Booth have worked with residents at Cambian Oaks to produce animations, musical soundtracks and creative writing all inspired by Shakespeare’s Othello.

Quill writing
Quill writing at Cambian Oaks using golden inks

 Written like Shakespeare!

For this special workshop Artist Jennifer Booth brough in the most glamorous looking quill for participants to scribe their best words. what it was like to write like Shakespeare.  At first, th quill was difficult to handle. For example, you have to get the right amount of ink on the nib, this involves using blotting paper to soak up the excess fluid. Then its all about how you hold the pen. You have to hold the quill stem at a right angle and apply just the right amount of pressure to get a good line! its all trial and error but the results are fantastic! whatever is written is elevated by the glorious quill!

We’ve also been ating a sound tracks to play alongside a reading poetry readings.  Using Apple garage band and ably assisted by James and Austin the musical maestro and localmmusucian JKAS, participants created a soundtrack!

We talked about publishing a book of prose and poetry created during the workshops and the possibility of extending the work to other residential spaces run by the Cambian Oaks group. We’ll have to see!

These Arts and Health workshops are part of the Othello Unbound Project which is a creative exploration of Shakespeare’s Othello.  This Destinations Arts initiative is supported by Sheffield Hallam University and funded by Arts Council England.

Checkout #othellounbound on Twitter!

Othello Performance Workshop: Day 2

Actor Chris Macaulay playing Iago in Othello
Actor Chris Macaulay playing Iago in Othello

The Performance

Nottingham based actor Christopher Macauley joined us to play the role of Iago. Chris, a graduate of 1623 theatre’s Trainee Actors Course, was able to bring a new energy to our explorations of Othello.

During the Othello workshop we discussed Iago’s motivations, and the fact that racism drives much of his diabolical machinations!

We explored the scenes and speeches and see how Iago feeds Othello’s uncontrollable Jealousy as we move towards the plays tragic climax.

Oliver Wilson reprised his role of Othello and gave a standout performance.  Ben Spiller from 1623 Theatre put the actors through a series of performance exercises designed to give the performers greater insight into the goal and motivations of the characters during the scene. This helped the actors to better understand their performance characteristics and it also helped to cement the relationships between the characters to create a dynamic performance.

Filming Othello

Just as the energy of the workshop reached its peak it was time to film. Jenson Grant from Destinations Arts captured the performance using a Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera and a SONY HD camera. We first shot in the rehearsal space of the green room which is incidentally painted yellow!

We managed to develop and shoot three important Iago monologues in a particularly eerie looking exhibition space at Derby QUAD.

The rehearsal process was also captured on video, this footage will be used to produce learning resources. The performances developed during these workshops will be used to inspire others to explore and perform Shakespeare!

After the performance Ollie said; “I’ve had the opportunity to own the performance because when I’m in the moment I’m inside the text, that’s when I give my best performance, my all, and these workshops have enabled me to do that.”

These workshops are part of the Othello Unbound Project which is a creative exploration of Shakespeare’s Othello.  This Destinations Arts initiative is supported by Sheffield Hallam University and funded by Arts Council England.