Liverpool-based disability-led company Fittings Multimedia Arts is celebrating securing the funding for a new project working with young people across the North and Midlands to create a piece of ‘deaf-friendly musical theatre’.
Missing! is a two-stage project, the first part beginning this year, exploring themes of identity, media and going missing. Working with groups of young people – focusing on reaching deaf and disabled and socially excluded groups – workshops with musicians, performers, digital artists, dancers and hip-hop artists will explore the fascinating story of William Henry Lane, aka Master Juba, who toured the Midlands and the North dancing in the 19th century and is considered to have been an innovator of tap dancing as we know it today.
The initial workshops will create digital and online content including video, blogs, music and interactive games. In the second year this research and content will be transformed into a brand new piece of deaf-friendly musical theatre that will tour the UK, returning to the schools, youth groups and community groups who helped create it.
The project has been enabled by funding from Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund, that exists to ensure that more people across the UK can experience the arts, especially in areas where there are few dedicated arts spaces.
Fittings’ artistic director, Garry Robson, said: “We are all extremely pleased with this funding announcement that will make the Missing! project happen. The project has been in the planning stages for the last two years and is a long-awaited development of our Master Juba touring performance that was developed initially as a street theatre show, and then for Black History Month in 2012.
“Juba had to travel to find his identity and somewhere along the way got lost. Searching for their identity is a major factor in many young people’s lives and sadly along the way many of them go missing. This new show will be driven by the young people’s lives and experiences and will have a major impact on the look and feel of the final Missing! show.”
Workshops will begin in September, with online content appearing from October. The public will be able to interact directly with the project and share their own thoughts and feelings with the participants and creators – watch this space…