Spring Reign is an original play about the conflict in Syria. Devised by the company and scripted by award-winning writer Rob Johnston, the piece focuses on an ordinary Syrian family caught in the conflict. Through their story we aim to engage people with the individual human tragedies that lay at the heart of this ongoing crisis. The play will be developed and performed by professional actors, writers, musicians and designers at Theatre in the Mill, Bradford and The Lowry Studio, Salford. It is being professionally produced and directed by Benedict Power and supported in the most part by the two theatre venues and Arts Council England. We are looking for your additional support to raise funds to cover some of the essential running costs of the project. We hope you can help us share this important story.
About the project
In early 2011, the ‘Arab Spring’ sent a wave of optimism and hope surging through North Africa and the Middle East. As the uprisings reached Syria in March 2011, popular protests quickly evolved into calls for the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad. As government forces brutally repressed these peaceful protests, opposition supporters took up arms to defend themselves and their local neighbourhoods. This opposition, and the ruthless crackdown that followed, mutated into the horrific civil war we now know all too well: over two hundred thousand dead, millions displaced, within Syria and across its borders, and the country in ruins. With the conflict now into its fourth year, and the focus on the plight of ordinary Syrians overtaken by the growing threat of ISIS, this story is far from over. Spring Reign is our creative response to this situation; our way of shining a light on what is happening in Syria and re-engaging people with this humanitarian crisis.
We are writing, devising and performing a dramatic story that reflects the frustration and suffering of the people of Syria, engaging with their crisis on a personal and human level. The play will be produced to the highest professional standards and performed at established theatre venues. Our long-term aim is to tour nationally in 2016, continuing to help spread awareness of the crisis. The creative team involved are committed to making Spring Reign a piece that is of exceptional theatrical quality in order to provide the best possible platform for engagement and discussion. Our fantastic professional team is headed up by producer and director Benedict Power, the originator of the work, and includes award winning writer Rob Johnston, musician and composer Chris Davies and sound designer and composer Karen Lauke, both of whom work nationally and internationally, as well as Meriel Pym, a freelance designer who has worked for the Royal Exchange Theatre for over 10 years.
As a company we are driven by the importance of presenting an authentic and grounded story, based on first-hand experiences. We have heard personal stories from members of the Syrian community in Manchester and beyond, many having recently escaped the brutality of the conflict and all with family and friends either missing, dead, displaced, or trapped inside a country at war.
By connecting with photographers and journalists who have been in and out of Syria since the crisis began – Manchester based Musa Chowdhury in particular - we have begun to piece together a picture of the crisis. Aid workers and volunteers, from charities like Syria Relief, doctors, lawyers, peace activists, politicians and academics; all have helped us begin to understand the appalling situation that has unfolded over the last three and a half years, and also learn of what Syria was before the conflict began.
The project we will present in May 2015 has been over 2 years in the making. After working tirelessly to secure funding, gaining support and alliances which have allowed us to gather first-hand accounts of the crisis, and building the creative team, we are now in a great position to bring this project to its theatrical conclusion. We are grateful for the support of Arts Council England who have funded the bulk of the project, allowing our company to commit to the project full-time. The Lowry, Theatre in the Mill, Dep Arts and Aqueous Humour have helped a great deal by offering 'support in kind' - free rehearsal space, technical support and use of the theatres, artistic oversight, marketing support and much besides.
However, we still need your support in order to continue. Your donations will help pay for the practical aspects of the production - van hire and fuel, insurance, purchase of set building materials, prop and costume hire, printed marketing materials, paying a photographer and video team to record the show and edit a trailer of the performance, to help take it on to other venues and audiences in the future, travel costs for research meetings with contributors and potential future venues and much more besides. We passionately believe in this project and what we are aiming to achieve, we hope you will be able to join us in making it happen.