‘Playscape: How to Build a Galaxy’ Phase 1 Outcomes

With the support of the Goldsmith’s Mocap Streamer Residency, Newhaven Grassroots Arts Award and Arts Council England National Lottery Project Funding we set out to answer the following question:

How can we build inclusive digital and movement-based artistic settings where people can contribute toward a shared vision and discover their sense of play and creativity?

This was important to us as we were observing many missed opportunities for meaningful connections on a daily basis within our community and in the communities of those we were working within. We therefore wanted to create something that would help young people who identified as from/who:

  • Low social economic backgrounds
  • Struggled with communication
  • Did not engage in physical activity/dance

to find more confidence in their ability to contribute creativity and playfully to their own environment as well as that of their communities.

This nine month R&D project benefited 1812 people living in areas surrounding Newhaven, Brighton, Staines, Woking, London and internationally.

The project included bringing  performances, workshops and opportunities to contribute to the creative process directly to schools, local youth club and people’s homes enabling us to reach people who face barriers to seeing performances. 10 out of 16 young people we engaged at a performance in Newhaven for example had never been to the theatre before.

We engaged young people aged 4-26 experiencing some or multiple forms of social exclusion. Circumstances included young mothers with children in foster care, those living with mental health challenges, receiving free school meals, in temporary accommodation, within the care system, who have different learning/communicative needs or/and who have identities that have been marginalised incl. people from the LGBTQIA+ community. We also engaged adults and dancers in training wanting to up-skill in digital arts practice who were finding the cost of this training inaccessible .

We are very proud of this project and look forward to delivering phase 2.

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Get To Know… Aurea Williamson

Aurea is a former Nurse and performer in 'Rebel Boob' a verbatim theatre show by Speak Up! Act Out! CIC (Angela El-Zeind) which our Artistic Director Katie was asked to choreograph. For National Nurse Week we sat down with Aurea to reflect on Rebel Boob and how it was combining her passion for the arts with her long career in nursing.

What is your background both in and out of the arts/theatre industry?

I trained as a nurse when I left home aged 18 working in both NHS and private sectors mainly on the surgical side – to begin with in orthopaedics and theatre departments where I quickly realised, I prefer people awake, before working out I wanted to focus on oncology, specifically breast care. I worked agency and in various other areas becoming an Oncology Research Nurse and then, in 2006, specialised in breast reconstruction surgery. I got my dream role in 2011, a hospital-based Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialist in Breast Care (that's a mouthful!).

Since school, I'd always enjoyed drama and been involved in my local community group but after I was treated for cancer myself, I stopped planning what I'd do in years to come, just in case I didn't have that time. I started taking opportunities and in 2017, encouraged by my husband and son, I started a part-time acting class, for no other reason, but to see what I was capable of.

In 2019 my agent took me on, and I decided to take a year-long career break from nursing and see what happened, expecting nothing but to re-coup some energy. Since then, I consider myself lucky to have had some screen experience (a small role in a feature film, done shorts and student films) and become increasingly involved in (often ongoing) theatre projects which has allowed me to perform at Brighton Fringe, see parts of the country I'd never been to (Theatre In Education touring for example) and a highlight - visiting Amsterdam with Rebel Boob.

Why did you want to work on Rebel Boob?

I never went back to nursing (apart from a little pandemic interlude). The director of a play I was involved with at the time knew my background and showed me an advert looking for performers for the Rebel Boob R&D. I was on my career break at the time, and I'd been feeling guilty about even considering leaving the healthcare profession, but I knew straight away I wanted to be involved in some capacity, so I applied.

Rebel Boob felt like three different areas of my life coalescing into one. It was a theatre piece, and I was on a yearlong career break looking at changing direction to performance. It matched my background and experience perfectly so I felt I could add something worthwhile to the project. I also felt it could be cathartic for me personally. I had been treated for breast cancer myself in 2013, looked after by my colleagues at the time, before returning to the same nursing role.

At the time Rebel Boob was looking for performers I was seriously considering leaving nursing permanently. Partly because of that, I felt I could allow myself to be more honest and open (to others) and as a result, I felt vulnerable.

This might sound odd, but I wanted to see if I could speak, in an authentic way, other people's words about their diagnosis, treatment, and how they felt at the time and after treatment when everyone expects them to get on with it. Some of the words really resonated with me personally. Without the protective layer of being a nurse, which I had used (very successfully I might add) as a method to cope, could I, Aurea, as opposed to Aurea the nurse, vocalise those words? I didn't know. Through my diagnosis and treatment, I had one person (and a diary) I was completely honest with, but other than that I kept a certain amount of emotional distance and privacy about what had happened and how I'd felt. Six years post-diagnosis I felt ready to face my vulnerabilities in a more head-on way. The timing felt right. I felt it could make me stronger and I was ready. But I didn't know if I could do it. It felt very personal.

Since that first R&D in 2020, I have seen how audiences (including Health Care Professionals) respond – those who have been affected by cancer as well as those who haven't. There are so many themes within Rebel Boob I have heard patients say time and time again over the years; all this has just built on my passion for the project. I felt and still do feel strongly it is a show everyone should see.

Can you tell us more about how movement comes into your role in the piece?

In Rebel Boob I speak the words of different women. Choreography often accompanies those words sometimes in a supporting way. I speak a wonderful monologue "Love is in the air" about living in the moment where movement joyously accompanies the words.

At other times the movement opposes the words spoken just like in real life. I am not a dancer, but I get to create movement with a beautiful one; and while a monologue is spoken, we create the emotional relationship between a mother and a daughter.

Why do you think the movement is important as part of the construction of the show?

Movement is vital within the show It often depicts emotions that cannot or are difficult to express just by words, demonstrating engagingly, the difference between what is said and what might be felt. Movement holds the whole show together. And it gives the audience something to look at!

What is your favourite piece of music to dance to?

What a hard question! I don't think I can choose – I like loads of stuff … but I do like something with an underlying beat, a bit rocky …. so maybe something that gets all my limbs flaying about!


Read more on Rebel Boob



Empa: What are Katie Dale-Everett Dance researching?

Katie Dale-Everett Dance is supported by Arts Council England National Lottery funding and by Studio Wayne McGregor through the Questlab Network Programme to begin early-stage research into a new project entitled Empa.
Born the year the internet became publicly available and living within an increasingly technological society, Artistic Director Katie was interested in the following question:
By utilising technology to exchange presence, senses and embodiment can we reach a similar, less or more empathetic relationship to that of face to face communication? 
Katie’s research is an acknowledgement of the fact that how we perceive people is not necessarily how they feel/see themselves. Working in collaboration with a series of creative technologists for the first time, Katie Dale-Everett Dance is enquiring into how technology can help bridge this gap for the better, increasing intimacy and understanding and enable us to see others and self more truthfully, differently and clearly.
Through research Katie hopes to explore in the moment choreographic decision, action and response, to question vulnerability and openness and explores internal and external in a literal and embodied senses (emotions, inside a mask…).
Empa is likely to be an intimate, promenade installation piece made in 2020.