From 22nd to 28th January, we’re celebrating Village Halls Week! This is an initiative run by ACRE (Action for Communities in Rural England) to acknowledge village halls and other community buildings which exist at the heart of England’s rural communities. The whole of the NRTF (National Rural Touring Forum, of which we are a member) have been getting involved.
For us here at Creative Arts East, village halls are particularly important as they make up such a large part of our rural touring network and community cinema scheme. We work with over 100 different voluntary promoting groups each year, many of whom sit on village hall committees and host fantastic arts and cultural events in village halls and community centres. These events are such a vital part of the community, and facilitating rural access to some truly wonderful film screenings and live performances is something we’re incredibly passionate about.
Earlier this month, we were contacted by one of our lovely voluntary promoters, Jane Leitch from Freckenham Village Hall. She sent us an article written by her 16 year old nephew Rowan, all about his experience watching Farnham Maltings’ show Brilliance in Freckenham last November. We absolutely loved reading it, and the whole family was happy for it to be shared. We think it really emphasises the impact of rural touring, and how the legacy of going to a local village hall to see a fantastic professional theatre show really is a family affair.
My name is Rowan Black I’ve been attending performances at Freckenham village hall for more than a decade now. And from a young age have been spell bound by the unique art of the theatre especially the impact of performances in such an intimate performance space. This interest has blossomed into a passion for drama and I am now studying A level drama.
Brilliance was nothing short of brilliant. With well thought out minimalistic staging brought alive by seeing it in its intended setting (a village hall).The live music which was played in transitions through out the performance was incredibly effective in creating and heightening the emotions presented with in the performance and being able to see the musicians made myself as an audience member feel like I was part of the story. Other notable techniques used was the outstanding setting of the seen involved a sack of soil and some toy buildings which though simplistic was extremely efficient at engagingly setting the story. The use of lighting was also very useful for presenting the day and night cycle. The highly charged final scenes had a the audience on the edge of their seats
In short an outstanding performance and I loved every second of it.
(Rowan Black, aged 16)
Freckenham Village Hall has been a member of our scheme since 2001, and over this time Jane has programmed a wide variety of performances for her local community, both through CAE and independently. Her nephew Rowan has been going to these events from a young age, and some of his first experiences of live theatre have been Creative Arts East-support rural touring shows. Jane works so hard to give back to her community, and Rowan’s review of Brilliance is a testament to her incredible efforts, as well as to the power of great theatre.
If this has inspired you to support your local village hall or community hub, check out our website to see what’s happening near you!