Directors notes

Writer/director Anna Carr wrote up the sessions so far after our second meeting with the Newtown Youth Centre crew last night.

Session 1:

Ave it, energy releasing. Name games, name around the circle as fast as possible, then walking across the circle. Then introducing each other to the group by sharing “I love, I hate, If I couldn’t fail I would…. “, presenting each other. Then passing a compliment around the circle, exaggerating it, and then passing an insult around the circle, exaggerating. Feedback after the exercise: How did that feel? What was it like giving the compliment? Receiving the compliment? And the insult? Understanding what it feels like to be a victim and a perpetrator. Lengthy discussion about the exercise, ended with hands into the centre with everyone saying a supportive word about the group.

Good things:
Engaging them all, managing their energy bouts and drops. Compliment and insult exercise

What could have gone better? Starting firmly. More talk about Hate Crime, why we’re doing it, why we want to do it with the group, what they can bring and get from it

To develop: Improvisations, to test out scenes and explore themes
 Session 2:

Started with clapping around the circle, then releasing sound around the circle. Then introduced them to greet, argue, make up. Encouraged them to act and make every interaction bigger, exaggerating, releasing emotions, increasing bonding. Then, bomb and shield. Encouraged them to engage with their bodies and physically act out attraction and repulsion. Then asked them to think of a time when they felt small. And to tell that story to a partner. Then to swap stories, and tell the story you’ve heard as if it’s your own story. This exercise prompted post discussion that wavered around, and I brought it back to the point that at the heart of this radio drama is encouraging people to speak up about what happened to them. How do we do that? 

Then, a fact sheet about homophobic hate crimes, and racist hate crimes, with a couple of examples. In groups they read through and discussed the articles, discussed how they could make drama from it, and then made a series of freeze frame images based on the articles they read.  

Good things: 
Getting them to exaggerate meet and greet game. Getting them into their bodies. Sharing vulnerable stories sensitively. Dealing with facts, beginning to explore 2 types of hate crime.

What could have gone better? 
Ending. Wished for more time to see the freeze frames and develop them, and wished for simpler bringing people together closing. Being clear about what the purpose of the session.  

To develop: Characters and scene development. Hunch is to focus on Racist hate crimes. Getting them to listen to a bit of a radio drama. See a script. Make a plan. 

Exercise I haven’t done but could go really well: Machines.

Meeting the team


Picture: writer/director Anna Carr working with the new cast of Stand By Me at Newtown Youth Centre 

First session with the young people at Newtown Youth Centre. After a prep session with the NYC staff, we could do no more than approach the session open minded and meet our potential cast with a blank slate. We were unsure what the reception would be to us and our project, but we were welcomed with open arms and the young people leaped in both feet.

It certainly oiled the wheels that producer Catherine Wright already has connections with one of the young people who is a long time friend/class mate of her daughter. This had the effect of breaking through any wall that might have existed if we were complete strangers and meant we were embraced as part of the group. We also benefitted from the attendance of four men from a Soton University football project who are volunteering at the centre at the moment. Centre Manager Sharleine had already told us that she has seen these young men’s presence having a very positive effect on the mood and ambitions of our group – all of whom are around 17 except for one lad who is around 14.

We had brought along an extra pair of expert hands in Tracey Cruikshank of NST theatres to assist us in doing the benchmark interviewing of the young participants. She spent 10/15 minutes with each person – including the creative team and our footballers – asking three open questions: 

  • What is your understanding of hate crime?
  • What is your experience of hate crime?
  • If you saw or experienced hate crime, what would you do? 

These interviews are fulfilling 3 functions:

  • They are our entry benchmark for measuring what impact being involved in the project may make on the  people involved
  • They are providing verbatim research for the creative team who are developing the script
  • They may provide audio clips to add in to the drama itself

Had an almost 100% male group. One girl joined us 2/3 way through and it was tricky to engage her in the work that had already started. The creative team need to reflect on what impact this can have on the message, impact and success of the project. Should we seek out girls, or shall we shape the narrative around an all male cast. 

The first first session could not have gone better from our point of view. Informal feedback from a couple of the young people says they had a great time – we will see who turns up next week. 

Production meeting 2/1/17

Catherine Wright and Anna Carr met today in advance of our meeting with Ahmed Sasso of the Hampshire Police Hate crime team tomorrow. 

  1. To discuss with AS: what is hate crime? What is the history of the development of the booklet and app? What outcomes would be good for him? Can he help with voices of victims and perpetrators: are there existing testomies and can we use them freely? Can we get some copies of the booklet?
  2. We agreed that Mon 9 Jan is not a creative meeting and anna is not vital. Cw will check with Sharleine of Newtown Youth Centre (NYC) her views on how to engage with our cast group – open call? auditions? Conscious of tight schedule so agreed around 8 cast members is ideal. A balance of boys/girls is essential.  
  3. Reviewed the hate crime app and booklet in detail 
  4. Decided to do entry survey by recording open conversations with each participant. CW to do this using unity 10q kit. This materials can be caprured in writing for comparison with the exit survey for the purposes of the final report
  5. Cw has already prepared cast info sheets to capture cast contact info etc. 

Meeting with Ahmed Sasso & Hamid Samiy

Met AS – Hate crime lead for Hampshire . ALso Hamid Samiy who wrote the Hate Crime booklet and spp materials for the police.

  1. Reviewed history of the materials. They have been in use for 5 years. Get updated whenever funds allow. Latest edition is 2016. Now provides so e translation as well as updates on law changes etc. As provided 12 copies for the project.
  2. As told us that the lowest groups to report HC are youth and women. Most HC falls into Race, religion, sexual orientation and siability crimes.
  3. As said good outcome for him would be a greater awareness of the definition orf hate crime. He believes that once people understand that, reporting etc. Will follow.
  4. AS also described Hate Incidents – these are low level incidents where a crime is not committed but the activity is still hate related. The police want these reported too.
  5. As and HS both very enthusiastic about the project. Told us it is unique in Hampshire if jot kore widely.
  6. We agreed thzt the drama would be generic – non specific in location etc. To allow it to be used as widely as possible. We also talked about the challges around OFCOM rules on swearing etc. This has to be taken into account in the development and writing of the piece.
  7. We talked about the value of including role play of what happens when you call to report something.
  8. AS Also told us that online reporting is a good tool both for public and police. Referred us to http://www.report-it.org.uk/your_police_force
  9. We talked about the formal language amd jargon police materials use. As an example the word “report” suggests forms and hassle.we agreed that terms such as “tell someone`’ or `’talk to someone” will be a better way to talk to our audience.
  10. Ac said she would like to chat further as the project develops and AS and HS were v happy to agree to this.
  11. HS mentioned that his latest project is on cyber crime. He like the idea of drama based on this issue as part of that project too. We agreed that there are many opportunitities to do more work in this area on different themes.
  12. Tslked about the importance of credits at the end of the drama to foster good relations with the various stakeholders in the project.
  13.  After the meeting, ac and cw reviewed. We talked about how the police view is naturally top down on the issue. The drama is bottom up – to encourage listeners that the feelings/implications of hate crime behaviour/activities do not need to be tolerated and dismissed and that any objections people may have to reporting can be overcome.
  14. Ac undertook to deliver a draft of a script midway through the six week devising period.

The title of our project

This was the inspiration behind the title of our project – a facebook post by a woman who calls herself Middle Eastern Feminist that was the turned into a wonderful cartoon. Maeril wrote and illustrated it as you see it here. 

As Haw says herself in the facebook post, this approach applies to more than just hate crime associated with race or religion. STAND BY ME seemed to us a positive and useful message to work with.

 Thanks for the inspiration!