As part of our projects to engage with a wider audience at the Crucible, we welcomed some fantastic local groups for the Opening Night of Barber Shop Chronicles last Wednesday 22 May.
A new play by acclaimed poet Inua Ellams, Barber Shop Chronicles follows the interlocking lives of four generations of African men, through the window of six barber shops across the globe. In the audience were groups from different communities across Sheffield who work to support people in different ways: from coping with grief, mental health and wellbeing, to encouraging social inclusion and fighting inequalities. We were delighted to welcome members from Sheffield Mind & The Ripple Effect, Sage, Shipshape, VIBE (Voice, Influence, Be Empowered),Reach South Sheffield,Terminus Initiative, Everyone's Singing, and SACMHA (Sheffield African Caribbean Mental Health Association).
Pre-show, the audience were guided through the building by the beating heart of the performance - the pounding music - coming from the stage through the open doors of the auditorium. This is a twist on the usual theatre experience – before the show began, audience members were invited on stage for a ‘haircut’ and a dance with the cast, bringing alive the energy of this play.
The cast received a huge heartfelt applause at the end of the performance and audience members were invited to talk about their experience of the show, fill in a feedback form and join the cast and crew for an after party in Crucible Corner. Some highlights of the feedback we received included: ‘Relevant and emotionally provocative’, ‘Unlike anything I’ve seen before’, ‘Insightful, entertaining with a lot of heart’ and ‘a real celebration of culture and masculinity.’
The following afternoon, we invited 120 children from schools in North Sheffield and young people who might require extra support to attend the show. Among them were Hinde House Secondary School, Becton School, Chaucer School and Endeavour Education Centre.
They were brought on stage before the performance to meet the actors and take a closer look at the set, then after the show were involved in a Q&A session with the cast. The actors gave advice on how to deal with nerves and anxiety, funding, ways of getting into acting and how to look after your physical and mental health and wellbeing. They also discussed issues and themes in the play - especially those facing young people today - and how to tackle isolation and loneliness, particularly in young male communities. The cast concluded by hoping their audiences leave the theatre ‘more educated’ and ‘more appreciative of the people around them.’
Don’t miss Barber Shop Chronicles, running until Sat 1 June at the Crucible. Find out more and book tickets here.