NAVCA are the national voice of the local third sector infrastructure in England. They offer support to over 160,000 groups and organisations, holding the belief that local voluntary and community action is central to healthy and inclusive communities.
NAVCA’s aim for the conference was to discuss issues around power, leadership and influence as well as how the sector must push to gets its voice heard in the modern world. Amongst the guest speakers were representatives from Oxfam and Carnegie giving their views. In such a broad conference setting, it is often difficult to focus minds on the real issues and that is where Dead Earnest stepped up.
The ‘prologue’ was to focus the minds of the delegates and pave the way for later discussions. We set about creating four scenarios that resonated with the delegates’ own experiences. The aim was to challenge, provoke and, of course, entertain the audience by making sure their minds were focussed on the main discussion points. The scenes followed various characters’ dissatisfactions and frustrations at getting their voices heard in their community. They highlighted the challenges people in the voluntary and community sector face every day.
However, we decided to do something a bit different at this conference. As well as the first performance we came can back at the end of the conference to perform an epilogue. Workshops were run on each of the topics raised in the initial performance and our team created four new performances in which the ideas discussed in the workshops would be transferred to the stage. The great thing about this approach was that it is meant the delegates could see how their suggestions could make a difference to the situations they had seen earlier. It was a challenge for our actors but extremely effective in summing up the progress made during the conference.
Golly, that sounds good. Did it work?
Yeah, it did actually. The aim of this particular performance was never to present something bold and new, it was to present situations the audience were familiar with and make them think hard about them. This comment from a delegate sums it up;
“At first I thought, what’s the point? I already know all of this. Then I realised, it was a great way of focussing my mind on the day ahead. It really got me thinking about the issues that were going to be discussed.” – Delegate
It sounds like we did our job, then. Some more feedback;
“The theatre production was an excellent way of portraying real life experiences. Perhaps they could put one on for the government!” – Delegate
“Really enjoyed the theatre group and saw it as a powerful tool for engagement.” – Delegate