Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Preparing for a journey down memory lane... and preparing to be surprised

Next week I shall travel north to Seven Stories where my papers are currently being catalogued.  Wonderfully, some Journey to Jo'burg papers in the archive have already gone 'into action' through a Theatre-in-Education project celebrating the little book's 30th anniversary.  Students in The Academy at Shotton Hall's Year 8 Drama Club have been exploring my archive material and creating their own theatre piece in response. The project was launched at the school a few weeks ago by Debbie Beeks from Seven Stories.

I am intrigued by the process and hugely looking forward to seeing the students' play next week at the Lubetkin Theatre at East Durham College.  As part of their research, the Drama Club have interviewed a former Durham miner, Dave Temple, who was very active with other union members in supporting South African miners during the apartheid years.

 Dave Temple told the students the story of his friend France, a South African miner whose real life story reminded them of the young boy who works in the orange farm in Chapter 3 of Journey to Jo'burg.  So I expect there may be some questions about links between fiction and reality - and hopefully lots of other questions from Shotton Hall students as well as from local primary Year 6 children who will also be in the audience.

I've also heard that some Year 7 students are creating a graphic novel based on the story. So Naledi and Tiro, who set off on a life-saving journey to the big city all those years ago, are still touching hearts and minds. Isn't that the wonder of stories, taking us across time and place?

Finally, good luck Shotton Hall Drama Club - I am excited about seeing your play and I can't think of a better way to celebrate Journey to Jo'burg's 30th year!


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