Janine Sharp reflects on Hay Theatre Company's Reflections Reminiscence Theatre Production
Hay Theatre Company Performs 'Reflections on a Train Journey Home'
All aboard the 19.36 train to Hay!
Hay Theatre Company have successfully completed the final stage of their reminiscence project which began in October 2013. Reflections set out to collect memories from elderly people local to Hay on Wye borders and to form this material into a new play script and production.
This new production Reflections on a Train Journey Home had an intergenerational cast drawn from Hay Senior Youth Theatre and a new reminiscence group who meet at The Globe in Hay every week, “and boy do they get on! We can’t and don’t want to stop them talking”, says Artistic Director and Writer Janine Sharp.
In a curious style similar to Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz and Dr Who, the local Doctor’s daughter, Elizabeth Wilson, steps off the Hay train on her way home from school, only to find it is 1936! How can this be? This was the year she was born. She meets many local characters, on her journey through time, all with a story to tell, before she returns safely home to 13 Broad Street, (Tinto House) 1950.
“ I have loved the process, not only the new friendships formed with the new reminiscence group, but the abundance of amazing stories I collected visiting people on a one to one basis. Over a hundred interviews proved to me that everyone has a story to tell; whether it is about how naughty they were at school or their early memories of Christmas. The most amazing story has to be from 98 year old Raymond Smith who not only led his troops in the Normandy landings but also were the first to arrive at Belsen concentration camp.”
Janine Sharp, no novice to theatre and TV learnt this process through working with Age Exchange Theatre in London way back in 1983. After 28 years of working in London she moved to Herefordshire 12 years ago to perform with New Theatre Works and to work as a freelance director at The Courtyard Theatre with her adaptations of the books The Borrowers and Stig of the Dump.“ Yes I had my 5 minutes of fame, I was also a BBC presenter for Playaway with Brian Cant. Go on sing the tune if you can remember it, most people do.”
This theatrical train did stop at
The Parish Hall, Lion Street, Hay Monday 27th October, performance 7pm.
Cusop Village Hall, Tuesday 28th October performance 2-30pm ,
Dorstone Village Hall, Wednesday 29th October performance 7pm.
(This project was kindly funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council of Wales, Elmley Small Grants and the Cooperative Bank Community Fund. Hay Theatre CIC is a not for profit organisation newly formed last year by Sue Hodgetts and Janine Sharp).
Janine says "The Reflections Project achieved all that we hoped it would and more. When we started the project we didn’t know that the piece ‘Reflections on a Train Journey Home’ would be performed by both the teenagers and the older people but the enthusiasm from the Reminiscence Group was so great that our cast was truly intergenerational incorporating 10 retired people. The youngsters were totally involved in their elders’ stories and were respectful when acting out the parts, even when asked to do something potentially embarrassing like the wearing of a knitted bathing costume which ‘sagged down to the knee when wet’. These scenarios caused lots of giggles both from those who could remember wearing them and those who would never wear anything like that now! The content was educationally informative to everybody about life from 1921 to 1950. Learning about history through reminiscence theatre gave a very direct emotional experience that will never be forgotten by the participants and the audience".
Janine wrote and directed rehearsals for the production of 'Reflections on a Train Journey Home' by Hay Theatre Company in October 2014. This video shows the making of 'Reflections on a Train Journey Home'