Barbican Theatre (Plymouth) is excited to present CIVIC in the remarkable Melville Building at Plymouth’s historic Royal William Yard this February.
CIVIC presents an imperfect history of Plymouth: the Civic Centre from 1961 to now, showcasing a mix of dance theatre, new writing, old film footage and stories from real people.
The Civic Building – a final piece of the grand Abercrombie rebuild of Plymouth; a perfect community symbol for a new and thriving city. Now the building stands empty and broken…is the dream of a 21st century Civic City empty and broken too? If not…what should it look like? How should it be? What if we could decide?
“I worked on the 14th floor. The building would sway; it was designed to flex in stormy conditions… aren’t we all!!”
Meet Sylvia. A veteran Tea-Trolley lady from the glory days of the old Civic Centre and she has stories to share, snacks and drinks to sell and a cactus to tend to.
A dance theatre collaboration between the people of Plymouth, Barbican Theatre’s creative team and writer / dramaturg Neil Haigh.
Devised and curated by FUSE Diverse Dance’s Lead Practitioner and Practitioner Suzie West, she says
“Civic features a brilliant mix of local performers, community groups and guest choreographers. From waltzes and fine dining to queuing and protest, be ready to stomp through scenes and stories as a Civic honorary member and watch this unique production up close.
It’s a promenade performance, which means there’s no seating and audiences move through the spaces with the actors and dancers. They are really are part of the show, getting a sneaky look behind the scenes of our Civic offices and industry spaces. Civic is a walk back through your heyday so we encourage audiences to wear clothing to match their favourite decade from 60s fine dining and 70s office workers to the double denim of the 80s or the ravers of the 90s.
Suzie’s concept of CIVIC was developed and scripted by experienced writer and dramaturg Neil Haigh. A call out for local writers and the stories of local people from the past 50 years was issued in 2019 and we were thrilled with the responses from both groups. Neil says
“It’s been fascinating and moving to research this piece and see just how rich the history of Plymouth is. Even though the production concerns only the period after WWII up to the present – through the story of the iconic Civic Centre building – I feel I am only just scratching the surface.
The content of the piece has been guided in part by the stories local people have told us. Working closely with the council we’ve met with many unsung heroes from the workforce, charities, social enterprise, politics and councils. In Civic you’ll hear personal accounts of the Civic Centre from real people. Their history and experiences have been woven into the script and everyone will spot a recognisable name, street, pub or song that harks back to the Civic life they know.
This show will be a real opportunity for people to reminisce, agree, disagree, laugh, dance, cry. It might even make you (more) passionate about what kind of city you’d like to see Plymouth become in the future! It’s an ambitious piece with so many different exciting elements and I’ve loved being part of making it happen. Come and join us!”
FUSE Diverse Dance present Fierce at the Plymouth Athenaeum (Oct 2019)
CIVIC is a dance theatre performance and features FUSE Diverse Dance regular groups who have been co-devising and collaborating since September. Movers & Shakers Young Rebels, Open Circle, Chorus, Barbican Theatre’s COMPANY b Dance and Dance Junction have worked with internationally acclaimed artists and choreographers Alleyne Dance to produce pieces for the show in response to the oral histories and their individual dance styles.
The Fuse Team, Kay Crook, Daisy Harrison, Emma Pendle and Suzie West have been finding new ways for volunteers, university undergraduates, youth groups and community groups to take ownership of the production too and you will get to meet all of them as a 100 strong cast. Expect Flamenco, Bharatanatyam, hip hop, ballroom, African and contemporary dance styles fused to offer a unique experience.
The performance also features local actors portraying familiar characters from Sylvia the tea lady (played by our own CEO Sheila Snellgrove following her recent performance as Nancy Astor), a wandering Sir Francis Drake (Rich Bailey) and real character portrayals of people from the City Council: Clippy (Danny Laine) Geoff (Company b Theatre’s Ryan John) & Bill (Leroy Ward).
Barbican Theatre are thrilled to be presenting this innovative production at Royal William Yard, in the remarkable Melville Building which offers a unique space for our performers and audiences alike. Royal William Yard and the Melville Building are managed by Urban Splash. Emily Handslip, Director of Commercial Lettings, says
“We are so pleased to welcome Barbican Theatre back to Royal William Yard, celebrating over 10 years of working together to bring culture and theatre performances to the Yard. This has included the very popular shows ‘Bard in the Yard’ and ‘World at Your Feet’. This time we have opened the doors to our iconic Melville Building to offer its historic charm as the backdrop to CIVIC, celebrating the story behind our sister site – Civic Centre. We can’t wait to see this new production! “
CIVIC is performed at Royal William Yard in the Melville Building on Thursday 20 February (7:30pm), Friday 21 February (3pm & 7:30pm) and Saturday 22 February (7:30pm) Tickets are £6 concessions, £8 full or a group of 4 is just £20. Book at barbicantheatre.co.uk or call 01752 267131