We learn what’s important to people in Brighton by listening to their stories. We talk to lots of local people and through these conversations, we begin to develop a number of ideas for shows.
We ask our members to choose a theme for the company to explore. We listen to stories exploring that theme from at least 250 people we don’t know. We train artists in our ethos and methodology and plan a series of workshops exploring the stories.
Born and Bread
In March 2022 we listened to stories about food, home and belonging from over 100 people across Brighton and Hove. We ran workshops with local people, had dozens of extra rehearsals, held an R&D sharing and several re-writes of the script. Our full production of Born and Bread was held at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts in autumn 2023. Read more about Born and Bread here.
We’re creating a new show that emerges from the stories and creative aspirations of people with heritage from Arabic-speaking countries. We decided to do this because we cross-referenced the data we have on our members with the census data for Brighton and Hove. We discovered that Arabic is the second most commonly spoken language in the area and yet the stories and lived experiences held by its speakers are often unknown to the wider community. We wanted to change that. We’re currently having conversations with lots of people from the community on the theme of Special Occasions. Read more about Mabrouk here.
Why are conversations so important to us?
A chat is a friendly, accessible and non-intimidating way of building trust. It is the starting point in a relationship that might lead to something more involved. A chat is a way for someone to be involved if they don’t want to perform, can’t commit or just have a story they’d like to share. They help to shift power in the theatre-making process away from artists and commissioners, and towards people who currently don’t engage in theatre.
What do we do?
During the conversation phase, Artists and participants speak to people about the chosen theme. These conversations will happen with groups, in one-to-one scenarios, online and in person to encourage a range of opportunities for those who want to connect and share. These conversations are recorded, transcribed and stored at The Keep, a community archive project in Brighton
How do we do it?
Artists and participants generate ideas for questions to be used in conversations. Artists are trained by BPT staff around the best practice when having conversations with people and how to create an open and non-judgemental space to share stories, these can be shared with participants if useful.
Using targeted community engagement and working with trusted partnerships we bring people into conversation who are ordinarily excluded from the arts. Through our open call outs, we make sure this offer to join us for a chat is open to everyone.