A photo of a man pinning pieces of paper with notes written on them to a wall in a bare studio space.

Grace Chapman reflects on her residency

| Tue 6 Jun 2017

 Can you tell us about your background and practice?

I have been working in theatre for almost 10 years as Co-Artistic Director of physical theatre ensemble Idle Motion. Our process was entirely collaborative in that we all wrote, devised and performed in the shows using multimedia, movement and inventive staging to shed light on stories or people from history, particularly pioneering women, who have been written out of the history books. Since the start of 2017 the company decided to stop producing work meaning I could focus on what I love most about theatre; playwriting.

I first got the idea for Leave to Remain when I visited BIASAN, a charity in Bradford providing support to asylum seekers and refugees and left feeling inspired to write about the work they do and the community they have forged. Following this I bought together a brilliant team of collaborators, Director Nick Pitt (Birmingham REP), Producers Ellie Simpson (Idle Motion) and Fiona Bradley (Frantic Assembly) and Movement Director Dan Canham. We are starting work with actors in a few weeks time to get the script up on its feet. So the wheels are definitely in motion!

How would you describe the work you create?

I love theatre that tackles the big issues, condensing the world around us into relatable, accessible human stories. So with Leave to Reman, although it is about the UK's response to the international migrant crisis, this is explored through the story of a woman from Bradford who hosts a young Syrian asylum seeker and the challenges and friendships formed as a result. Because of my physical theatre background I am really excited to see how movement can be incorporated into this relationship.

What were you working on during your residency at artsdepot?

When I went started the residency my key aim was to leave feeling more confident in my ability to tell this story authentically. So myself and Nick Pitt spent the week meeting people from organisations who support refugees and asylum seekers, such as Refugees at Home, Young Roots, HEARTS and the Refugee Council. It was brilliant to speak to people on the frontline of the international migrant crisis about their experiences and reflections on the asylum process.

What elements of the project were you developing while you were here?

Speaking to these people meant we could look in detail at the script and develop it further making sure that the story we were telling was correct and plausible whilst working on structure and character development. Essentially we ended up with a wall covered in paper!

What will you be doing in the future to further evolve the project?

I am now re-drafting the script to incorporate everything we learned in our residency, working towards a week of further Research & Development with actors and our movement director at the end of June at New Diorama Theatre. Once this is finished, I am confident (hoping!) that we will be approaching a final draft of the script and have a sense of the visual and physical language of the show. After that it'll be time to work towards a full production process and performances, something which would not have been possible without the residency at artsdepot.

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