My name is Denise, I’m an award-winning writer/filmmaker from Cornwall, and I am one of the eight associates currently taking part in the very first Arts & Homelessness International Associate’s cultural leadership programme – a year-long journey of creative discovery, supported by AHI, where we get the chance to develop our skills, learn new ones, gain hands-on experience via paid work placements, and potentially help to create a blueprint for the cohort of 2023!

We are all excited and incredibly proud to be a part of this journey, and we are very grateful to AHI and their supporters (thank you Mr Michael Sheen!) for the opportunity.

Last month we went to The Theatre Royal in Plymouth, (thank you Sara Rhodes!) where, over the course of three days, we met the actors of “Our Space”, the talent manager Ben Lyon-Ross, Engagement and learning officer Jodie Pagett, and the incredible Danni from TR2 who took us on a guided tour behind the scenes, which was absolutely epic.

We got to see the wardrobe department, and how costume ideas are put together, we saw where stage props are designed and made in the woodwork department, not only for productions at TRP but potentially for all over the world, and we also saw how stage productions evolve from measurements on the page to a model box (a tiny, to-scale version of the stage and all its props) to the full-scale finished version that we see in the theatre.

I am currently doing my work placement at The Theatre Royal, co-writing the “Our Space” summer project (called “Ghosts” – showing in September!) with the lovely Sam Parker (fellow writer) and Ryan Wilce (director) so the whole experience and behind-the-scenes tour was incredible as we gained so much more insight into how all of the different departments work and how everything comes together.

Afterwards, we had lunch and socialised with everyone, while we sat in the sunshine outside “The Bank”, where we swapped respective life stories, the million and one reasons why people are drawn to the theatre, and why it is so important to have (and keep!) that connection between us.

Our visit was rounded off by an amazing performance of the incredible “Today I killed my very first bird” (Written by Jason Brownlee, directed by Lee Hart (Voodoo Monkeys) and Produced by Ben Lyon-Ross) before it headed off for a month-long stint at the legendary Ed Fringe…which blew us all away, (go see it!) and was the perfect end to a perfect stay.

With huge thanks again to everyone at AHI (Matt, Samra, David and Katy) and all at The Theatre Royal in Plymouth.

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