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International storytelling drama engages Shrewsbury youth

Two seasoned performers visited Shrewsbury last week to stage an interactive storytelling workshop to some of the town’s young people as part of the 2017 #60 Pre-text Tour.

Professor Allan Owens and Yosuke Ohashi were visiting University Centre Shrewsbury as part of the public engagement work of RECAP, the Centre for Research into Education, Creativity and the Arts through Practice at University of Chester’s Faculty of Education. Yosuke Ohashi is a founder member of Taichi Kikaku Theatre Company, Tokyo, and regular visiting artist scholar at RECAP, funded for his current residency by the Sasakawa Foundation to collaborate with Professor Owens.

Professor Owens explains: “The #60 Pre-texts Tour is founded on my practice-based research into drama as an excuse to ask ‘How can we best live together?’ I’m staging 60 pre-texts around the world as part of the major EU funded international project we’re leading at RECAP called ‘Beyond Text’. With a copy of the co-authored research monograph Creativity, Education and Democracy (Adams and Owens, 2016) in my pocket, I’ll be engaging people in the UK and other countries throughout 2017 with these concepts through pre-texts as a form of public discourse.”

The performance took place at The Hive, which holds a weekly youth development group aimed at young people in the town, and explored the oral storytelling tradition of Japan as well as actively involving the young people themselves. Shrewsbury was the 14th of 60 venues on the tour – prior to this, performances have been staged over the last two months in Palestine, Finland and Spain; next in the programme are Japan, Denmark, Czech Republic, Sweden and Hungary.

“This group of young people in Shrewsbury have imaginations as vivid as any in the world!” comments Ohashi.

The Hive’s Progammes and Projects Manager Emma Croall says: “Every Thursday after school, young people can meet at The Hive and socialise in a safe, fun environment. Over the past few months, they’ve engaged in watching films, playing games, and have even started to form their own band. When the University approached us to see if we could host Professor Allan, this seemed a perfect opportunity. The feedback we had from the youth cafe was fantastic, and they enjoyed the creative interactivity of the session.”