National producer Orchestras Live in partnership with Derbyshire Virtual School, Sinfonia Viva and Ava Hunt Theatre have being adapting their project Destinies during the unprecedented lockdown; a project using music and theatre to empower vulnerable young people, specifically unaccompanied migrant children and looked-after children. Destinies aims to support the young people by helping them gain confidence, form friendships, pursue an education and become engaged with society.
The process of meeting and working together was halted with the Covid-19 emergency and lock down, and sessions had to be moved online. Several exploratory workshops were held using Zoom, when the artistic leaders led singing and drama activities with the young people. The limitations of Zoom were overcome by introducing a creative exchange involving two-way dialogue during the workshops, the setting of creative tasks by the leaders, and development of new material by the young people remotely (supported by DVS creative mentors) which has been embraced into backing tracks made by the music leader for use in subsequent workshops. Orchestral musicians have responded to the new material by weaving their own lines into the recorded tracks as the organic process continues.
This cycle of creative exchange is continuing through monthly blocks of workshops across the summer, giving the opportunity for the ‘company’ to meet, share and perform their work as it evolves. The plan is to sustain this cycle until a time when it is safe for everyone to meet up and finish the piece. It is hoped a live performance will be possible either in autumn 2020 or spring 2021. Whilst originally this was intended as an entirely live piece, the digital dimension has become an integral part of the process and will feature in the performance to a certain extent, making it a hybrid live/digital event. The process is proving successful in giving vulnerable young people a voice and a sense of identity within the safe space of the company. The digital work has been important in making them feel less isolated and providing some fun and stimulating activity during such a worrying time.
The wellbeing benefits of online contact between friends in shared creative activity have been significant. One participant, who had become depressed and recluse during lock down, was lifted emotionally by the workshops and started volunteering in the local food delivery scheme for vulnerable people. Looking ahead, following the live performance by the company of young people and team of five music and theatre professionals, the intention is to make a small-scale version that can tour to schools, helping other young people to understand and empathise with the challenging lives of migrant and vulnerable children. In a subsequent stage Orchestras Live and its partners plan to develop a performance with Sinfonia Viva in a larger orchestral format at a professional venue. Find out more about the project here.
Photo Credit: Destinies project in Derbyshire, produced in partnership by Orchestras Live, Derbyshire Virtual School, Sinfonia Viva and Ava Hunt Theatre © Chris Webb