“Some roared, some whispered, all were important” – the magic of Our City Our Story

Reflections on the Our City Our Story event by Helen Green, Children and Young People’s Team Lead at Live Theatre.

A few days have passed, the rooms are back to normal, chairs – tables – sofas returned to their usual place. A few flyers now tucked into racks remain the only physical trace that Our City Our Story occurred on the 7th of March here at Live Theatre.

To be honest a year ago when we blithely said – ‘Aye go on, yeah we’ll host something’ nobody really knew what Live Theatre had agreed too. What was understood by Tech, by Front of House, by Senior Management, by every department was that the theatre would be welcoming a whole load of young peoples voices into the building. Giving a platform; to say some stuff about what they think – about being a young person, growing up in this city. Why would we not? Telling stories is Live Theatre’s bread and butter.

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For 6 hours the building was unbelievably busy, with energy, music, chatter, applause, quiet moments listening into headsets, exploring maps, VR 360 film, poetry, lip-sync, rap, film, performance, that’s just scratching the surface. It was full on and fabulous!

Perhaps less easy to see on the day were the hours of planning and preparation that young people put in to make this happen – down to the last detail, their approach to creating and curating a day like this was second to none. At the core of this approach was their principle of being truly open, giving all those who wanted the opportunity to say something. This principle of openness was never explicitly articulated, it’s just how these young people operate. 11,000 voices generating those fantastic 6 hours. Some roared, some whispered; all were important.

This approach combined with the fact that those in attendance really wanted to listen made for that moment of magic alchemy, when flint is struck and sparks fly. The theatre was bulging at its seams toward the end of the night, the audience leaning in, intent. Young people held their audience in their palms. They undoubtedly lit the flame.

Fairly soon the debriefs will start, where all involved in the lead-in and the event will constructively critique, learn in order to move forward and make even greater impact. This critique is important. It is also important to acknowledge what was achieved. Our City Our Story and City of Dreams is leaping forward from this place of success.

The number of people involved in making Our City Our Story so powerful is almost endless, certainly too many to list in this short blog. A special mention however for Dave, Live Theatre’s Technical Manager. Not for doing a fantastic job on the day, but for what he said the day after the event proper knackered from putting in several long shifts back to back.

‘That was a really important gig to do. It doesn’t often happen, but I shed a tear. Really powerful stuff’

Those who know Dave, know how high this praise is.

Stay tuned to our website for more images and film from the Our City Our Story. In the meantime enjoy this slideshow of pictures from the event shared on social media, or take a look at the graphic recording of the day by Inky Thinking. 

Follow this link to find out more about Live Theatre’s work with children and young people, including the largest free youth theatre in the North East.

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