A new permanent space created by KBHT and a programme of engagement and temporary commissioning for this residential development in Bristol.
A laser cut back lit corten steel soffit, creates a striking identity for this space that sits at the intersection of pedestrian flow forming an imagined theatre space that uses raking steps as seats and the street as a stage.
A composition of concrete column and intricate Victorian scroll pattern formed a simple concept that provides an elegant statement of intent. Local fabricators Resurgem worked closely with Ginkgo, KHBT and the design team to fabricate and install the artwork.
An accompanying programme of temporary work emerged from a desire to develop new ways of engaging people with the history of Bristol’s Wapping Wharf. This ambitious project fostered new collaborations between Ginkgo Projects, Bristol Old Vic Young Company, Travelling Light Theatre, Hanham Woods Academy, artist Emma Smith and M Shed Museum. It was a fascinating opportunity to uncover the area’s past, explore its contemporary relevance and also to investigate and challenge the creative process that led us from the history through to the drama that played out in Museum Square and the Bristol Old Vic.
A Thousand Season’s Past was a project designed by Travelling Light and BOV Young Company to enable local young people to discover the origins and explore the history of the Wapping Wharf site, particularly focusing on the stories of the New Bristol Gaol, part of which still stands on the site. They used theatre to tell the stories from the site, in particular focusing on the story of Hanham teenager, John Horwood, who was the first man to be executed at the prison.
The project allowed the two organisations as well as partner school Hanham Woods Academy to collaborate for the first time, working together with Bristol Museums, Galleries and Archives and engaging around 60 young participants aged 11-20. Working with heritage professionals from Bristol Records Office, M Shed and Bristol University, Wapping Wharf participants gained a deeper insight into this area of their city and how actions that took place there have left their mark almost 200 years later.
The John Horwood story explores areas of Bristol’s history including Bristol gangs, the coal mining community, crime and punishment and bodysnatching for medical science. The young people involved in the project developed valuable skills in researching, navigating archives and handling historical documents and finding ways of sharing heritage stories through digital media and the creative arts. The research they compiled was drawn together into a new play A Thousand Seasons Past written by Mike Akers, that was performed by a cast of young people on the Wapping Wharf site in August 2015.
Emma Smith staged a one off unique event in which the public were invited to actively contribute to the rehearsal of a playlet. This event created a reflective space in which to consider the nature of rehearsal: the freedoms and agency it allows and the potential of rehearsal without performance, in and of its own right as a public work.
Developed from the material being generated by Mike Akers as part of the Wapping Wharf programme, artist Emma Smith devised a micro script that was adapted and shaped, offering the opportunity to the public to take an active role, be it working through a character or considering staging,
Rehearsal (Act I) created a space for public engagement and authorship over the final outcome in a supported environment. It also collapsed the distinction between performer and audience, exploring instead the relationships that become possible within a group rehearsing the act of coming together.
Led by artist Emma Smith, supported by dramaturge Lisa Gregan and script writer Mike Akers with tech support from the Old Vic.