Tall Shadows – The Story So Far…

Chol’s Tall Shadows project continues to create social artistic experiences for young people throughout lockdown.

Tall Shadows – The Sheffield Story Collective was launched in February 2020. The project aimed to engage with groups of young people from across the city of Sheffield to develop and launch spaces in everyday locations where they could discuss issues they felt were important. In response to their discussions, they went on to create artwork in a variety of exciting forms, including theatre performances, puppetry and story-book animations. Despite lockdown restrictions, the Tall Shadows project continued through the year, using online platforms to engage with young people across Sheffield.

The Tall Shadows Story

Tall Shadows kicked off in February 2020, just before the pandemic hit. Chol producers worked with students at Sheffield College to devise and perform ‘Our Story’ a short performance based on migration, to an audience in Sheffield and via a live link to an audience in Brooklyn. This was a brilliant opportunity for the young people of Sheffield College to explore migration through performance; their own experiences and the experiences of others, to learn about one another on a deeper level and work with and communicate with a diverse group of young people in Brooklyn. Alongside the migration project with students at Sheffield College, the Chol team provided free workshops to the public around graphic design, directing and spoken word. The workshops were well attended and received excellent feedback. The Tall Shadows project was officially launched on 12 March. At the official launch, hosted at The Crucible, the team introduced the young producers and performers from Sheffield College to a reception of young people, community workers, artists and families. The launch also featured a performance by poet, Otis Mensah and a performance by the young producers on the topic of ‘home’ and what ‘home’ means when you’re from more than one place.

When Covid-19 hit, changes had to be made to the Tall Shadows project and how it was being delivered. The face-to-face activities were postponed, but the team continued to keep in touch with the young producers and Tall Shadows ambassadors to explore alternative ways to engage using online platforms. This lead to the delivery of a variety of events including the Unlock Film Festival and the Migration Matters Online Festival, featuring short documentaries, online Q&As, discussions, workshops and premieres of short films created by the young producers. Leading on from this was the online Tall Shadows Workshop, which explored the world of online drama and theatre experiences.

Throughout autumn, Tall Shadows continued with a variety of online creative workshops. These interactive sessions supported young producers to develop their skills, including learning how to create content for Chol’s brand new children’s book and produce a short animation. The workshops helped to develop the confidence of the young
participants involved and provided them with important skills such as collaborating and story-making as well as creative skills like puppet making and animation.

In February 2021, in partnership with Volunteer Libraries in Sheffield, as part of Tall Shadows, Chol ran a series of online poetry workshops with Writer in Residence Nik Perring, concluding with an online performance at the end of the week.

Marucia, Young Producer said, ‘this has been a fantastic learning process and I felt grateful to have the responsibility to present events and host Q+As as well as having the opportunity to produce my own films and interactive online performances. Overall, the Tall Shadows internship was a great experience and helped me learn a wide range of skills.’

Vicky Storey, Director at Chol said, ‘the dedication and creativity that the young producers have shown over the last few months have blown us away. Despite what has been a difficult year, they have embraced the creative challenge of taking Tall Shadows online and created a series of events that we are all proud of. They have stepped up at every challenge; managing budgets, calling partners, casting online actors and hiring artists. We all know the phrase ‘the show must go on’, and this year Chol’s Young Producers have brought new light to that phrase – successfully engaging many more children and young people in our region, developing their own creative producing skills and improving their confidence. We have learnt so much from these young people and we are looking forward to supporting them in the next stages of their creative journey, and welcoming a new set of young producers into the Chol team in autumn 2021.’ And that leads us to where the Tall Shadows project is now.

After an incredible year, with so much achieved under challenging circumstances, Tall Shadows is coming to an end. The fantastic young people who have been involved with the project since its inception in February 2020 have developed many skills and insight around theatre, the arts, story making and performance.

Using the skills acquired and working with Chol’s professional artists, the young producers have created an immersive online theatre experience to culminate Tall Shadows. TimeCrashers will take audiences on a unique virtual journey in Sheffield’s only time- travelling nightclub and will be an unforgettable night of dancing with the Gods, mingling with Mary Queen of Scots, partying with Picasso and restoring history to its rightful order. The event will take place on 17 and 18 April via Zoom. Please book your place via Eventbrite.

These workshops are part of our Tall Shadows programme funded by Arts Council England.

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