Inspired by Kiruna, a town in Sweden that had to move 3km east in order for mining in the area to continue, The Town Meeting is a performing research piece which explored how people make decisions when the fate of their town is in their hands.
On arrival I’m handed an envelope with some secret information “your brother, an environmental scientist, is very concerned about the impact of mining” along with a Little Rikjord Big Ideas badge to wear. The village of Little Rikjord has a decision to make, do they give the go-ahead for the government to move their village for mining to continue or to put up a fight and lose the main employment avenues within the town.
The performance asked participants to form a representative board of people, which brought up the age old question of whether or not a board can ever be fully representative of the people it is serving. In the North East of England it’s not so difficult for people to get into character when it comes to mining, the heritage of the area seems to swing people in defence of mining communities. This was particularly evident within the post show discussion, however worth noting that these days are in the past for the North East. What modern day issues do we face that have similar local and national implications? Do we let chain supermarkets take over small, local businesses, yes they may provide lots of jobs but what does this mean for the lives of locals?
Cap-a-Pie’s theatrical approach to research is a fun way to engage members of the public in conversations that can often seem one dimensional, futile or boring. However when participants are given a role to fight for this brings about a sense of meaning to the questions posed and the fact that there is something at stake, their fictional town, means something depends on their actions. I personally found that by the end of The Town Meeting I knew what I would and wouldn’t fight for if I was faced with a that type of decision, it’s like when you flip a coin, the moment the coin is in the air is the moment when you know what outcome you actually want.
The Town Meeting is touring to multiple other venues and communities throughout April and May, the performance research piece is well worth participating in as an experience of having a voice heard. It will be interesting to see how different communities with diverse backgrounds respond to the stimulus. If you are interested in participating in a future event the dates are below, alternatively visit the website: http://www.cap-a-pie.co.uk/
29th April – The Cheviot Centre Wooler – 01668 282406
30th April – Theatre Delicatessen North, Sheffield – Tickets Online
6th May – Amble Development Trust – 01665 712929
9th May – Newbiggin Maritime Centre – 01670 811 951
18th May – Customs House, South Shields – 0191 454 1234