The Paper Birds Visit
Last Friday award winning theatre company The Paper Birds flew into AKS with, ‘In a Thousand Pieces’, an outstanding piece of physical theatre that weaves together visual imagery and verbatim accounts to tell stories of Human Trafficking within Britain.
Students from Year 9 to 13 had an incredible opportunity to see first-hand how the company devised and developed the show by taking part in a pre-show workshop.
The workshop initially focused on the physicality of a performer through large scale group work experimenting with leading and following. As the session developed students were then giving an insight into how they can incorporate dialogue alongside movement. Movement sequences were created and stitched together with script inspired by images and their subtext. From here pupils were introduced to the concept of Verbatim Theatre. In pairs students interviewed each other recording and collecting every cough, pause and stutter on paper to then transfer this from the page to the stage. In personifying these accounts students played with character, location and exaggeration whilst remaining true to the written word a technique the company used to directly influence their play.
In a Thousand Pieces, was an extremely powerful and moving piece with sensitive story telling at its heart. Visually engaging on multiple levels the company incorporated prop manipulation, highly stylised movement sequences, chalking, video and metaphor to explore the harsh realities of the British sex trade. Delicate depictions of violence and brutality are handled with the utmost care, and statistics are put into relative terms with the simple image of 99p Ice cream being so poignant.
In the rumblings before the show and during the workshop it was clear that students understanding of Human Trafficking was limited. Exploring this issue within the safety of the studio allowed for confusions to be cleared up and for students to emotionally connect with characters whose plight are the same as so many around the world.
‘In a Thousand Pieces’ truly captivated its audience, whose stunned silence speaks volumes. Through further group discussion and pupil feedback after the performance its clear the impact it left with our students;
“A very moving piece exploring the nature of trafficked women, made me have a wider understanding and really sympathise, all through the delicate nature of physical and visual work” Pupil Response
“It was incredibly moving and chilling to watch, but it was a story we needed to hear and that needs to be told” Pupil Response
“Just wow, sensitive storytelling about a powerful issue, it’s so important to give a voice to the voiceless” Pupil Response
“Amazing thought provoking piece. Not likely to be forgotten any time soon” Pupil Response