Wonder Fools is a young Glasgow theatre company that specialises in creating contemporary new theatrical work based on a diverse range of current and historical real-life stories. As part of this year’s unique Traverse Festival programme, they have commissioned five new plays to be performed remotely and free for young people from September 2020 – March 2021.
Under the banner Positive Stories for Negative Times, the project is a response to the lack of physical spaces for young people to participate in creative activities currently, and the detrimental impact that this is having on their mental health and wellbeing.
A national project features four of UK’s most exciting voices in playwriting, Sabrina Mahfouz, Stef Smith, Chris Thorpe and Bea Webster, who will join Wonder Fools own Robbie Gordon and Jack Nurse to create brand-new work that will then be given to communities around the UK before going international. A range of community groups, schools and youth theatres will be invited to sign up to turn the new writing into online performances. These new plays shared with marginalised groups and vulnerable young people in isolated areas where they can be interpreted in whichever creative way keeps them safe from the risks that come with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wonder Fools Co-founder, Jack Nurse commented, “We are absolutely delighted to be working with such a brilliant selection of writers who are some of our favourite voices working in the UK today. The plays are all incredibly different but equally full of interesting stories, exciting forms and searching questions about this extraordinary moment we are living through.
“We hope that the process provides a platform for young people to connect, be creative and share a sense of solidarity with all the other brilliant groups who take part. I can’t wait to see the many variations of the plays and celebrate all the fantastic work of the young people involved.”
The plays, that are aimed at ages 8 to 25, will go live on August 26 where community, theatre and charity sector groups are encouraged to sign up from all over the UK and internationally. Each group will select which of the plays they want to work on and will then take steps towards a filmed performance. Wonder Fools will centre young people in their latest project to provide a platform that goes beyond the legacy of COVID-19, to share and celebrate their work online to a national audience.
In keeping with Wonder Fools priorities, the five plays will tell stories that are politically urgent, stand up against oppression and share unheard voices. They are as follows:
Bad Bored Women of the Rooms by Sabrina Mahfouz – a storytelling adventure through the centuries of women and girls who have spent a lot of time stuck in a room.
The Pack by Stef Smith – a playful and poetic exploration about getting lost in the loneliness of your living room and trying to find your way home.
Hold Out Your Hand by Chris Thorpe – a dynamic text that questions where we are now and the moment we are living through.
Is This A Fairytale? By Bea Webster – a fairytale turned inside out in a surprising, inventive and unconventional way. Think damsel in distress, dragons, distinguished knights and depression.
Ozymandias by Robbie Gordon and Jack Nurse – a contemporary story inspired by Percy Shelley’s 19th century poem of the same name. A group of ordinary young people hatch a daring plan to do something extraordinary.
Wonder Fools will provide a framework of how to rehearse, direct and record the works, with specific guidance on how to deliver the project in total lockdown, through blended learning or completely live in the space. All performed plays will be uploaded and hosted on a bespoke platform – positivestories.scot – and groups can sign up from 26 August.
Positive Stories for Negative Times is presented in association with the Traverse and is supported by SCVO Well Being Fund, Foundation Scotland Resource Fund, Renfrewshire Leisure and Future Paisley, Garfield Weston Foundation.