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Theatre Anti-Racism Project Celebrates Success

Rewriting Rural Racism, based at Sheringham Little Theatre, set out to highlight the issues of migration and diversity through youth workshops, a one-man show, and a series of films. 

But the numbers of people and organisations that got involved as the project evolved has far exceeded expectations; and the ideas it ignited are continuing well beyond the “final curtain” through extra sessions and dramas, as well as a widening of the host theatre’s horizons to make its programming and performers more diverse.

Project co-ordinator Katie Thompson said: “It’s been a lot larger than we thought it would ever be, which shows the importance of the anti-racism message, and that people were interested and engaged.

Delivering it through an arts setting made it more engaging and accessible and made people more comfortable to participate. And we are delighted our work will continue as a worthwhile legacy.”

Rewriting Rural Racism was delivered by a team of young performers from the Little Theatre who were keen, during the Black Lives Matter campaign, to show the challenges faced by migrants and people of colour living in Norfolk.

Highlights flagged up in and end-of-project report are:

  •  Workshops – online sessions empowering young people from 16 schools and youth groups to learn and talk about race and other cultures. Extra sessions were tailored for dance students.
  •  Outskirts – a powerful one-man drama written and performed by actor Ashton Owen about the life of a mixed race boy in a mainly white community. Covid meant the drama moved online, which helped it reach further afield to London and the Midlands. It is also planned to tour the live show to schools when restrictions lift.
  • We Are One – a series of short films looking at migrants’ stories and their contribution to the county. A planned 30 minute film grew to a 90 minute series due to interest and demand. It is planned to screen the films at the Inspiring Norfolk Festival. An animated timeline from the films is already being used as a teaching resource.

The Little Theatre also aims to make its shows more diverse including summer drama and the pantomime to reflect a broader spectrum of the community.

Theatre director Debbie Thompson said: “Rewriting Rural Racism has been an exciting project by a group of talented and enthusiastic young people who are passionate about this topic.

It has surpassed all our expectations and we have had terrific feedback from students, teachers and other people in the arts world. We also hope its legacy will shape people’s future thinking.”

Find out more about the project on the Little Theatre’s website www.sheringhamlittletheatre.com.

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