During our Trestle Arts Base 15 Festival, amongst the shows and events, we ran a number of workshops designed for community groups to see Trestle for the first time or to experience the building in a new way. We were delighted to welcome the year six class at Camp School to Trestle Arts Base; most of the children hadn’t been before and they loved the tour which took them into parts of the building unseen by public eyes – the tower up to the flag pole, the cowsheds where numerous old puppets and masks are stored, back stage where giant animal puppets hide and the mask making workshops where Trestle’s renowned masks are handmade. After seeing a mask being made the group took part in a workshop in the theatre, where everyone put on a mask, created a character and entertained their classmates and teachers. Adult Supporter ‘Great afternoon thanks. Children loved it, as did adults!’
Next it was the turn of Earthworks, a charity which runs horticultural training for adults with learning disabilities, who came to Trestle Arts Base as a group for the first time. Earthworks are our neighbours, so after a short walk across Highfield Park, the Monday group enjoyed a tour of the building, lunch in the cafe and a workshop in the studio. Those who took part showed off their dance skills, acting prowess, larger than life characters and scary caricatures. One of the group leaders said:
‘I just wanted to say a huge thank you for yesterday. We all had a really good time – it was very interesting and informative tour and the workshop was fun. As you can see we have some Earthworkers that are really in their element with drama and it’s lovely to see them so confident and natural. We hope this is the start of an ongoing partnership between Trestle and Earthworks.’
The Daylight Club are regulars at Trestle Arts Base, following the fantastic projects we have enjoyed together, such as Herts Hidden Heroines and Hidden Stories. However, during the Festival we met new people and set up a new type of workshop for the participants. After a gentle warm up in the morning, we had lunch outside as it was a beautiful May Day, then Dawn Hudson ran a Singing Workshop. The group rose to the occasion, with everyone joining in in their own way and a really strong chorus of regular members who moved and sang with fabulous energy. In the Jungle, (Wim-oh-Weh) was a hit with the group, as was an aboriginal call and response number and a superb piece of improvised blues singing. The participants left smiling, their spirits lifted by a happy afternoon. Participants said: ‘We had a sing song and everybody enjoyed it, it was good fun.It would be good to do more theatre and acting at Trestle!’
Links Academy came to us twice during the Festival, the second time was a return with two boys who were particularly interested in Trestle masks. They engaged in an hour long workshop all about the superpowers that the Trestle masks could have and developed their own super heroes; they discussed whether the masks were good or evil and how two masks might work in partnership or become each other’s arch nemesis. Workshop leader Karene said ‘It was lots of fun and the guys worked really well together with our work experience student, playing games and trying out the masks’.
We asked everyone who came to the Festival what they would like to see happening at the Arts Base and as a result we are aiming to set up both a youth theatre and a regular weekly song and drama session for disabled and non-disabled adults.