Our latest guest blogger, Bethan Ball is a Freelance Community Arts Practitioner working with One of a Kind theatre group, who meet here at Birmingham Hippodrome every Thursday. One of a Kind is part of Open Theatre Company, who work closely with Hippodrome Plus to engage young people with learning disabilities with Birmingham Hippodrome.
We are ‘One Of A Kind’!
Birmingham is a diverse, vibrant city that never fails to surprise. You may have seen and experienced some surreal and unusual things in and around Birmingham, but did you happen to spot a human-sized nose wandering around the streets last week? So what’s that all about?
The focus of One of a Kind is on communicating and interaction, and getting to know each other through theatre, dance, and mime – and we always have a lot of fun! We are all over 16 years old and have a learning disability of some kind.
For the past few months, we have been working on a project called ‘Nobody Nose’, inspired by Gogol’s classic novel ‘The Nose’. This is a satirical tale of a Russian soldier who wakes up one morning to discover his nose is missing! He goes on the hunt for it, and realises that his nose had developed a life of its own.
Using non-verbal physical theatre, film, animation and art, we have had the opportunity to re-create a modern version of this tale using our own experiences and ideas. We have had great fun exploring different elements of the story, for example, imagining what it would be like to lose your nose, the concept of your nose being the size of a human being, and how you would respond if you were to come across a walking nose in the street! We played with lots of ideas and we have been able to be really creative in our approach to this.
We have been lucky enough to work with Benny Semp, a freelance artist, who helped us make a gigantic nose. We then spent two days filming with ‘Reel Access’, a fantastic Birmingham based film education and training organisation. We filmed the nose in various locations including outside Birmingham Library, in a public lift, in a huge dustbin, and it even followed someone with a bunch of flowers because it liked the smell! We had to be flexible and adapt our ideas as we went along, and it has been a great experience so far.
“I came up with the idea of the nose chasing after someone with flowers and I’m really happy we used my idea. We have a laugh and can be professional too. We want to show people what we can do.” – Lukan, member of One of a Kind
“As part of my apprenticeship, I’ve been filming a documentary to show the process of the project – it’s really fun. We got a lot of stares because there was a big nose walking down the street. People were thinking “What are you doing?!” But it made them smile!” – Jake, ‘Open Theatre Company’ apprentice
The film will receive its world premiere at ‘The Electric Cinema’ next month in front of an invited audience of friends, family, schools and staff.
This project is supported and funded by ‘Hippodrome Plus’, ‘Irwin Mitchell’ and ‘Birmingham City Council’.