Exploring Fibres with the Community Collective

As we prepare to take Fibres out on tour, Rosie Priest (Stellar Quines Creative Learning Associate) has been examining the play's themes with a variety of people across the city - including our Community Collective. The group really enjoyed getting stuck into Frances Poet's heartwarming and heartbreaking play about the legacy of asbestos in Glasgow. Here, Rosie tells us more about her creative learning work. 

From working with women’s groups tackling social isolation to community theatre groups, the creative learning surrounding Fibres has been far-reaching. One of the major areas of exploration has been with the Citizens Theatre's Community Collective: an amazing group who meet weekly and use theatrical tools to play with ideas, create stories and present work. The group consists of people from all walks of life and the high levels of engagement and turn out for every session is testament to the group leaders, Neil and Elly, as well as the cohesion and efforts of every member.

Over two months, our weekly sessions would culminate in the creation of short pieces of work being shared in groups. These pieces included: reinterpreting Fibres into new stories; giving asbestos a voice and a personality; creating film trailers for the story of asbestos and creating new tales through exciting storytelling methods and group writing projects.

The group never shied away from exploring the difficult issues around asbestos, and I was completely bowled over by their use of humour and clever creative responses to the tasks at hand. Some of the more creative responses included a creation of ‘Asbestos – The Musical’ and a representation of asbestos as a family man who was doing what he needed to in order to ‘get by’. 

Ultimately the sessions with the Community Collective provided the group with tools to explore hard-hitting issues and to create their own work inspired by difficult to handle subjects. Taking a break from more traditional theatrical techniques allowed the group to create wild and wonderful things. Of course the impacts of the project were bigger than just the work the group created: raising awareness about asbestos is important, but also using these horrifying and difficult stories to inspire new ways of making and exploring. Whether raising confidence in ways of storytelling, using performance as a tool to share lived experiences, or encouraging community cohesion through group writing techniques, the impacts and results of the project were far reaching and complicated. As Neil so aptly put it “it’s not drama therapy, rather, it’s therapy through drama”.

The work isn’t finished yet: the group will be seeing Fibres later in October and will get to chat to the cast and crew about the making of the play. It'll be really exciting to see how their ideas and work parallel that of the actual performance, to see the crossovers as well as the oppositions and tension between the two creative processes.

Led by the Citizens Learning team, the Community Collective meet every Friday and use drama exercises in imaginative ways to create theatre. Find out more on the Take Part section of our website. 

Fibres is a co-production with Stellar Quines. It's touring to venues and community halls across Scotland from the 17th October. Full details are available from our website