Earth Echoes – In TORBAY!

I am writing this post for a few reasons, one is down to the fact that I never write blog posts and Erin said we all had to contribute :). Another is that this a major project that Doorstep Arts was involved in and it needs writing about because of its sheer wonderfulness. Finally, it is mainly because of the affect Earth Echoes has had on me as a participant – a participant who went to school in Torbay, is now 34 and this was the first time I had performed on the ERIC stage!

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A bit of context: Earth Echoes was a community project that we sometimes called the Geo Opera, working in collaboration with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Mark Laville, Hugh Nankivel and Doorstep Arts and it was actually based in Torbay!  Yes, you heard me – this phenomenal project was actually based IN Torbay, with members of the whole community. From young children to grandparents, from first time performers, to seasoned professional opera singers – all together, creatively collaborating in Torbay!

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The impact it had on me: Me being Jade Campbell.

My background:

So, I moved to Torbay back when I was 8 years old.  I moved from Nottingham and the school I went to there celebrated every single religious celebration it could. I had white skin and I was in the minority. This was a good thing!

My memories of this school are filled with excitement and joy.  We celebrated festivals throughout the year with theatre, storytelling, dancing, singing, costume, steel drums, carnival, food and this is what our learning was based on – complete immersion into all these wonderfully diverse cultures, in the most creative way possible.

We then moved to Brixham and my memory of my first day at school was walking into assembly, sitting in lines on the hard, wooden, cold, floor, a hymn projected onto the over head projector and singing banal hymns.  My 8 year old self accepting the strict rules of my new school, accepting the coldness of the singing and accepting that this was our new life in this new fishing town!

The contrast was quite shocking.  But what I realise now as an adult working tirelessly to facilitate cultural and creative experiences in Torbay, if you have never had these creative experiences before, you won’t actually know what you are missing! I moved to Edinburgh when I was 9 for a year and then Canada at 12 for 2 years.  Each time being exposed to wonderfully enriching cultural and creative experiences, each time moving back to Brixham thinking – hmmm beautiful coastline! and partying is fun in Torbay!

So in a way, thats why I do the work I do.  Because theatre helped me to explore my identity as a teenager, theatre gave me a safe way in to express my teenage angst (I had to go elsewhere to have these experiences!) and it also enriched my life long learning. I feel passionately about this happening in Torbay, because my family live here, my nieces are having their own babies and I want Torbay to be a place that those little ones can grow up in it having been nourished in creativity and love and actually having options, other than partying.

Why participate in Earth Echoes?

I have my own creative practice, which usually involves facilitating other people’s creative processes and I have worked hard to get to the point to ensure I am paid as an artist to do this – it hasn’t been easy.  So why choose to sign up to the Geo Opera as a participant, without being paid – well, here are a few reasons:

  • Meg guilted me into it
  • I wanted to participate in a project with my boy
  • The subject matter – the environmental impact of humans
  • I haven’t been a participant in years and in away it was like a CPD session for me

What happened?

The process was fantastic.  I was on the receiving end of a professional project, Directed by Mark Laville and Ass. directed by my two favourite people – both friends and colleagues: Meg and Erin.  I was pushed as a performer, in so many ways – singing, physically (Climbing on some questionable structures that we hadn’t met until 2 days before the show), learning lines and keeping my energy up whilst also co-producing Doorstep Theatre festival, day to day running of Doorstep Arts and working with my regular groups.

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I am telling you, these structures were scary!

I worked with about 50 members of the Torbay community that I haven’t worked with before and I was so inspired by all of them – we all came from different backgrounds. The process was marvellous and we all developed and grew as a creative artist in some way or another.

I loved being in the presence of Hugh – such a warm and genuine person and facilitator – I felt like I actually had some rhythmic abilities in the end, Meg made me feel like I could actually hold a note and sing and also being pushed by Mark – he was relentless because he strives for the BEST in everyone and expects no less.  It feels impossible to live up to his expectations, but that is what pushed me to do my best – because I had something important to say about the world – a global message!

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If the process was fantastic then I have no words to describe the actual performance – it was mind blowing – I was on the stage on my OWN TURF for the first time ever!  It felt so powerfully meaningful!  We hosted an international conference in Torbay and WE, the people of Torbay, were giving delegates something to think about with Earth Echoes! It had relevance to Torbay, but also put Torbay on the map as an important site for exploring real, relevant and meaningful subjects through creative means.

I left that stage shaking and crying because I gave my heart and soul to it, because I care so much about Torbay, I care so much about the planet and I care so much about people and people connecting!

THE ROCK CONNECTS US! The rock connects us all, whatever our backgrounds or cultural reference, we are connected – lets make the most of it and keep creating, keep sharing, keep loving and keep looking out for one another!

I realise this is an abrupt end to a heartfelt blog, but I could write a thesis on this experience… I wont. I must dash as I need to pick up my children from school, I need to send another 10 emails and clean the toilet too!

I will leave you with some more photos and leave the rest for another blog post on another day.

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