Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Utter Thanet - guest blog by Clive Holland

Utter Thanet

The Isle of Thanet is changing. There’s a lot more going on for a start. More events; cultural, arty, sporty and many other weird and wonderful happenings across the Isle. You can hardly turn a corner without some organised encounter jumping up and down and trying to draw you in. Many events are free; open air and in public spaces. You can stand and stare, join in or pass them by. There are many though where you have to cross the threshold; book a ticket, pay a fee, make a commitment to be there. There are farmer’s markets, May Fairs, carnivals, commemorations, celebrations, exhibitions, heritage events, political events, motorbikes, cars, sea themed events, musical events, dance and … well, to be honest, events that cover just about anything and everything that you could possibly produce an event for. The Thanet calendar is getting fuller each year.

Bands on stages, operas on screens and whales on beaches

How do all of these events and happenings sit with the people of Thanet? Is everyone pleased and excited to see things going on, do some people loathe what’s happening to their Thanet, do some take them or leave them?

Some years ago, in Ramsgate, we had a kinetic sculpture. This was an all singing, dinging, twirling, mass of colour and noise built onto the back of an old electric milk float. A wide-eyed young boy, maybe eight or nine years old, was walking past the float with his dad. “Wow. What’s that dad?”, said the boy. The father, grabbing the boys arm, said, “Its art son, come on!” and dragged the boy away, as if art was somehow dangerous or maybe ‘not for the likes of us’. This, and other similar occurrences, has made me wonder about the people who call Thanet their home. What do they think about the changes that are happening here on the Isle? Not just more events but the changes that are bringing many new and different people to Thanet? Is there any animosity towards change and the people that are causing it? Do they wish it could stay the same? Do they embrace the changes? Do they feel as though they are losing control of their own town or village? Is there an amount of envy or distaste or disapproval of the changes? Do people feel that they are being forgotten?

The influx of people to the area from London and other parts of the world is changing the balance of the area. House prices and rents are increasing. There are new businesses, shops, cafes and bars; some more expensive than the establishments that they have replaced. There are more people looking for work. More people from different backgrounds and situations living cheek by jowl. It is these changes that have prompted Mischievous Theatre’s new project “Utter Thanet”. We aim to talk to 1000 people who live in Thanet. We are asking them what they think about where they live, what they love, what they hate. What do people think about the changes that are happening here in Thanet and nationally and globally. Have they had any bad experiences? Do they feel worried? What do they hope for the future?

Mischievous Theatre will be out and about over the next five weeks; come and say hello and tell us what you think. Once we have spoken to 1000 people, we will create a piece of theatre based on their words. We will share the first draft of the script in a script in hand performance around the area. Then, next year, we will produce a piece of professional theatre that will be seen here and will then tour further afield.

You can e mail us at the address below with your thoughts, or let us know that you would like to be interviewed, or, if you are a part of a club, society or association, you could invite us to one of your sessions and we can all sit around and over a cup of tea and an iced fancy, natter about Thanet and the ‘goods and bads' of change.

Clive Holland
Mischievous Theatre CIC

Twitter: @UtterThanet
E: utterthanet@yahoo.com

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