Creative Process: Nurturing "The Bigger Picture

An Arts Council England-funded collaborative project examining the impact of inter-generational arts - Mar 2018/19

Embarking on the journey with "The Bigger Picture" immersed me in the world of community engagement and devised theatre. Joining the project in its final stages, I collaborated with 15 community researchers from Nottingham.

Together, our mission was to weave their research findings into a captivating performance set within the symbolic confines of a GP surgery.

Within this context, our exploration of "The Bigger Picture" took a profound turn as community researchers embraced the Southern African philosophy of Ubuntu. Ubuntu, derived from the Nguni word "botho," embodies "humanity towards others" or "I am because we are," highlighting interconnectedness, community, and shared responsibility.

In my capacity as a creative producer, I took the lead in spearheading the development and presentation of the play.

Rehearsed Reading

Witnessing the volunteers evolve in their newfound skills was immensely gratifying. I took pride in supporting them as they embraced their roles with growing confidence. For many, this marked a transformative journey—from individuals with little or no acting experience to proud contributors, presenting their two-year-long research in an engaging and impactful manner.

As we navigated our creative journey, the art piece remained a reminder of shared humanity, enriching both artistic expression and the collaborative spirit defining "The Bigger Picture." My role evolved into a pivotal phase of the creative process as I closely collaborated with the community researchers. Together, we charted a course for research and development, devised a short play, conducted group workshops for acting and devising, and orchestrated rehearsals.

As Doctor Vega, I not only played a central character but also provided crucial support to volunteers, some of whom had never acted before. This experience played a vital role in boosting their confidence and fostering growth in skills, articulation, and delivery.

In our vision, I stepped into the role of Doctor Vega, a character brought to life during our creative process. Doctor Vega's task was to scrutinize the cultural fabric of the three arts venues under investigation—New Art Exchange, Nottingham Contemporary, and the National Gallery of Justice. This metaphorical examination aimed to delve into their cultural competency programming, audience engagement, and the metaphorical "big C" of culture.

Mr Justice representing National Galleries of Justice

Miss Contemporary representing Nottingham Contemporary

Mr Exchange Representing the New Art Exchange

Guided by Ubuntu, researchers collaboratively crafted impactful artworks, forming a visual representation of the philosophy. This collective endeavour echoed the idea that individual humanity is intricately woven into the community fabric. The Ubuntu-inspired art piece became a central focus, serving as a mantra throughout our creative process and manifesting the expression "Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu" or "A person is a person through other persons.

Alongside community researchers from diverse backgrounds, we navigated the complexities of the creative process, crafting a performance that not only brought research findings to life but also empowered the volunteers to share their insights with newfound confidence.

The culmination of our efforts at the stakeholder conference held at Nottingham Contemporary became a celebration of community engagement, creativity, and the transformative power of devised theatre. "Ubuntu-Inspired Art: Elevating 'The Bigger Picture'" was not just a thematic element but a guiding force that underscored the transformative power of Ubuntu in fostering unity, compassion, and shared responsibility within our artistic community.