Lucy Bradley TCFT Sarteano Reflection

"Being part of TCFT even in a small way was an opportunity to make links with artists and individuals who share aspirations for youth empowerment and developing young people as leaders. It was an excellent opportunity to meet some formidable young people and to hear about their work in various fields - radio, photography, politics, design and youth leadership.

The most exciting part of our trip was the opportunity to visit two refugee communities outside the town, working with around 70 young men during three different sessions. The men who came from a variety of backgrounds - Nigerian, Gambian, Sudanese, Bengali among other places, had been in Tuscany for between 3 months and a year and they were hungry to get involved in our sessions. Working with them to sing, make music and play was incredibly powerful. It was a reminder of the power of music and drama to unite across language barriers and cultural divides.

The groups brought to our sessions an eagerness to play, a warmth and openness that was infectious and energetic. Our sessions seemed to give the men space to laugh and smile, to sing and dance, to have fun together, learn more about each other and to put aside for a short time the difficulties they faced elsewhere in their lives.

The small moments of image theater we developed offered them a voice- when asked to make an image called ‘the journey’ one of the group's made an image of two men being overseen by a policeman, while another group depicted four men walking together, arms around each other’s backs, offering support and solidarity. Heads bowed, bodies braced against the journeys they faced. Some of the group seemed ready to share elements of their own experiences in this way and it was clear that theater and image making on a more regular basis could give them a voice in a way that language could not.

These sessions were incredibly beneficial for my process on Belongings as an opportunity to engage directly with individuals who had undertaken difficult journeys to leave home and to travel across Europe to Italy. Experiencing their energy and warmth, seeing the sense of community they are building together and witnessing their readiness to play all feel really important to bring into the modern day world of our opera. The images the groups created will also feed directly into the production so that the men we met are represented in some way on stage.

Another important element of being present at TCFT which will feed into our project is the opportunity to make plans to draw local refugee groups into Belongings, something that I have always felt is vital. These conversations will help to ensure that our work builds links within our community between the young people performing and locally settled refugees and offers a real opportunity for empathy and human contact. We discussed possibilities which I hope will lead to direct involvement in our project through a befriending table tennis club- something that feels incredibly fitting for Glyndebourne with its culture of table tennis playing!

On a personal note the opportunity as a freelance artist to meet other artists and to discuss work, process, politics and social change felt really invigorating. The cross artist discussion was inspiring and led me to develop my thinking about outdoor performance, bravery and risk."

Lee Reynolds TCFT Sarteano Reflection

"In the scheme as a whole, it was lovely to see that an environment had been made where the participants had so much freedom to explore such a wide range of intellectual, physical and artistic avenues without the exacting pressure of end results and performance outcomes being foremost in everyone's mind. There was a joyfulness in the sharing and an openness to everyone's approach that seems unique in the projects I have been a part of.

Spending time with the displaced guys in our workshops at the welcome centre was a real pleasure - first thing to say is what a wonderfully generous, funny, and sharing group of people to have met - I feel very honoured. Personally, it helped me connect back to the universal language that we share in music, and made me dig back through the memory banks of wordless songs that could survive the language barriers. I got the impression that their having a chance to share something which is purely for enjoyment and togetherness was something quite different from their normal day's activities."