Friday, 1 February 2013


Coinciding with Valentine’s Day, Birmingham based Women & Theatre present ‘Loving Me’, a brand new piece of musical theatre created with Looked After Young People.  In partnership with Birmingham Hippodrome, Service Birmingham, the REP and LACES (Looked After Children Education Service), a group of young people have worked together to devise an extraordinary piece of theatre on the theme of love.
The participants are Looked After Young People from around the  Midlands including Dudley, Hereford, Sutton Coldfield and Birmingham, and are aged between 14-19. In October 2011, a dozen young people attended an introductory workshop, where production ideas and potential music styles were explored.  A devising week followed, using improvisation and other drama techniques to develop scenes, characters and songs, and creating an overall structure.  All the music and song lyrics have been written by the young people with support from the artistic team – all have a personal story to tell.   Through January and February the group have been working on stage production, management and performance skills.  In addition 5 of the young people are using this opportunity to qualify for Bronze and Silver Arts Award status. The first half of the piece is set in cabaret format with the second half taking place in a TV studio where the audience will watch a young person up for foster care choose who will ‘Take Me Home ‘. 

Women & Theatre Artistic Director Janice Connelly says: “’The inspiration for LOVING ME came from a project that Women and Theatre were asked to deliver around school attendance and looked after young people. It struck me how many of the young people we worked with enjoyed performing and had real talent in the art form.  As looked after young people we the public are their parents - they are in our protection.  Are we being good enough parents? do we love them enough? and indeed as young people do they love themselves?” 

The performance will include interaction with the audience, and a post-performance discussion with the participants/artistic team.  On Thursday 14 February this discussion will be chaired by Birmingham playwright David Edgar who presented his acclaimed adaptation of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby at Birmingham Hippodrome in 2007. 
The artistic team has included W&T Artistic Director Janice Connolly, Digital Music & Projection Artist, Sarah Wilson and Stage Manager, Liam Walsh.

Performance: Patrick Centre, Birmingham Hippodrome, Thursday 14 February and Friday 15 February at 7.00pm.  Tickets available from Birmingham Hippodrome on 0844 338 5000.  Prices £8.00/£5.00 (disc.)

There is currently a fostering crisis as there are more young people looking to be fostered than people to look after them. In Birmingham the council has a target to recruit between 200 and 300 new carers to increase availability and choice, so more young people can be cared for locally rather than at a distance from the city.

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “It is vital we help give all children the best possible start to their lives – and foster carers play an essential role in looking after some of the city’s most vulnerable children".
About Women & Theatre:

W&T has 29 years’ experience of producing exciting, accessible new work about things that matter. We create engaging theatre and use interactive drama to promote wellbeing. We work with communities in a respectful and participatory process and produce drama that is both funny and moving because it connects with people’s real life experiences. 
In recent years we have specialised in creating high quality participatory theatre with marginalised groups: working with local LGBT adults, in the development of Gay Birmingham, Back to Backs; working with intergenerational groups in recent Make Do & Mend; and regularly with women in the probation service. Whilst all projects are different in content, style and target group, all are united by core values of inclusion, empowerment and the creation of quality theatre. 

Loving Me is very much part of this strand of work and also builds on our experience of working with Looked After YP following on from projects such as Artist Audience; Our Take; and Hooded.

Janice Connelly
Janice Connolly is the Artistic Director and a founder member of Women and Theatre. She has getting on for 30 years experience of working with a wide variety of partners from the public and third sector, creating and delivering new theatre and drama about things that matter. Janice is also a successful standup comedienne. Her much loved comedy creation Mrs Barbara Nice is a popular comedy circuit headliner and performs her critically acclaimed solo shows in arts centres and theatres up and down the country. Janice also has a career as an actress and has appeared on TV many times. Probably best known for her role as Holy Mary in Peter Kay`s Phoenix Nights, she has also appeared in Coronation Street. Stage work includes playing Helen in A taste of Honey at The New Vic Theatre, Stoke and in pantomime with Lily Savage. Recently Janice with women and Theatre has been running comedy courses for elders including people with Alzheimers.

David Edgar
Birmingham-born David Edgar is a British playwright and writer who has had more than sixty of his plays published and performed on stage, radio and television around the world (including both of the largest British subsidised companies, the RSC and the National Theatre), making him one of the most prolific dramatists of the post-1960s generation in Great Britain. He was resident playwright at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1974-5 and founded the University of Birmingham's MA in Playwriting Studies programme in 1989. David is Chair of the Eve Brook Scholarship Fund, founded by his wife, which celebrates the achievement of Looked After young people by giving them help to access higher education.

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