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We want to inspire people to create, innovate, and not be afraid. People have asked us to produce work around issues such as mental health and domestic violence and we’ve delivered these in their settings, at places of work and at conferences. We’ve worked with BME groups and the Black Police Federation. We’re a socially driven, socially engaged company.” It’s this approach that has helped to earn Arts Council funding as part of the organisation’s national portfolio: “We’re very proud of that because only a small number of theatres are on that list,” said Sheila. “The Arts Council recognises that we look at things differently.” November’s Illuminate & Thanksgiving event at the Mayflower Steps is a perfect case in point: “We were asked to provide the narrative for Illuminate so we used the Wampanoag Native American people's creation story, Moshup the Giant. "The whole Mayflower 400 story is fascinating. Whose story is it? Whose voice is it? We are celebrating 400 years of white colonisation. What about the other story – the story of 15,000 years of Native Americans? So our narrative looks at ‘the other’ story. And that’s what we do, this is how we think. And we also ask: what relevance does it have now?” Right from the start Sheila has seen collaboration with other organisations as vital for driving growth in the arts. The Barbican is currently working with Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery to devise an historically accurate theatrical walking tour of the Barbican. And the theatre’s big summer 2016 production, Romeo and Juliet, directed by Barbican artistic

director Mark Laville, was performed outdoors at the Royal William Yard. “That brought together professional actors and emerging artists and the quality was very high,” said Sheila. “The feedback we had was excellent. And our audiences love the fact that we’re locally produced and they want to support us.” One of those locally-produced shows is the annual Christmas co-production with Devon-based Le Navet Bete. This year, they’re staging 46 performances of their unique take on Jungle Book: “Le Navet Bete is a great example of where we have recognised the potential of local artists and given them the opportunity to perform and grow, to the extent that they’re now a theatre company that can live and work from their Devon home all year round. That’s a result!” The same could be said about Sheila’s own vision, first expressed in her Stonehouse flat almost four decades ago. Then, Plymouth was virtually a cultural desert. Now, it has a thriving arts scene: “Plymouth is really sparkling at the moment with exciting and cutting edge companies – and the Barbican Theatre has been an important contributor to this renaissance,” said Sheila.


The Barbican Theatre Castle Street, Plymouth PL1 2NJ 01752 267131

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The Plymouth Magazine December 2016


Profile for Cornerstone Vision

Plymouth Magazine December 2016 - 150th edition  

The 150th edition of Plymouth's popular and biggest circulation "lifestyle" magazine delivered to 45,000 homes every month.

Plymouth Magazine December 2016 - 150th edition  

The 150th edition of Plymouth's popular and biggest circulation "lifestyle" magazine delivered to 45,000 homes every month.