It all began back in March with a box of half masks and the idea of the seven deadly sins and culminated in mid-July with a celebration at York Theatre Royal. We worked with 125 young people and 26 adults, delivered 21 workshops and 6 performances for over 300 audience members. We travelled thousands of miles across Yorkshire and brought 128 half masks into the County.
Through March, Emily Gray spent three weeks up at York Theatre Royal with a brilliant Trestle team: performer, workshop leaders Audrie Woodhouse and John Cockerill experimented with the masks and ideas of trading your home for an adventure. Dramaturg Hannah Davies drew the story together, composer Ben Glasstone created moments of music and producer Alex Wright asked pertinent questions at important points!
We worked with two groups from St Olave’s School and Ampleforth College, students from University of York and a York Theatre Royal youth group. We shared mask skills and showed the groups a short mask performance; they then created further material for our story and had fun developing the characters of the sins and finding a relevance to their lives. Quotes from the young people on what The Deadlies is about included: ‘Human issues that you have to deal with’ , ‘You can overcome anything’.
In May we refined the process and visited four Yorkshire towns which are part of the On Our Turf project (funded by Arts Council Strategic Touring), which engages with communities outside of York; we were welcomed into Selby High School, Woldgate College in Pocklington, The Old Boot Shop in Easingwold and Helmsley Arts Centre youth theatre. The groups created delightful interpretations of the masks and the story and shared their work with friends and family. Each group were given two mask sets to continue developing their mask work.
‘Working with Trestle Theatre Company was a fantastic experience for our students who responded wonderfully to Emily’s direction. The invaluable experience of working alongside professional performers, learning how to use the masks and sharing the devising process was challenging but thoroughly enjoyable. The resulting performance was a huge success and the feedback we got from our audience and members of staff in school made me very proud to have been involved.’ – Sally Lewis, Selby High School
In July, back at York Theatre Royal during lunch time at the wonderful New Directions Festival, the teenagers from Selby High School improvised their way around the café and foyer as playful masked Deadlies and the disabled adults from the Old Boot Shop entertained audiences out in the courtyard. We found that participants can improvise effectively in half mask, given the time and confidence to develop the necessary skills and that audiences relate to and enjoy the characters of the Deadly Sins.
Thank you to York Theatre Royal, who set us a challenge, gave us support, let us experiment and discover a successful model of delivery. Thank you to all those who helped us to raise funds via The Big Give to see this project begin to take flight. We have a Yorkshire version of The Deadlies and now we need to create interpretations that can travel through other counties….please get in touch if you would like to discuss a version for your locality.
The Deadlies is Trestle’s latest invention; a performance and participation project, offering a new way of involving local people in professional performance through Trestle Half Masks. The story follows Archie, played by a professional actor, as he encounters the Seven Deadly Sins, brought to life by participants in half mask. Trestle, supported by York Theatre Royal, has been working with groups in Yorkshire, integrating them into the telling of the story with elements of improvisation and audience interaction. Together we have created performance events that spill beyond the conventional theatre space.