Sarah Rose Graber, Artistic Director of Performance Collective Stranraer, tells us how they used a Creative Lives 'Together Again' microgrant (funded by Scottish Community Alliance's Pockets & Prospects programme) to kick-start in-person activities after two years apart . . . 

"Performance Collective Stranraer [PCS] is a development organisation that nurtures, promotes and sustains rural theatre artists from Southwest Scotland – primarily Dumfries and Galloway, and South Ayrshire. These areas have little-to-no artistic training provision and we exist as a company to bridge the gap between youth theatre and the professional performance industry – turning artistic outlets/hobbies into viable career paths.

One of the ways we do this is through offering intensive residential labs where our ensemble members can gather for a long weekend to learn new skills, work together as a creative team, develop new work, and support each other as a community of collaborative theatre-makers.

Due to the pandemic, we’ve spent the past two years unable to get our ensemble together. Since our members live in remote locations across the region, travel makes up a large part of our costs. Thanks to the Together Again microgrant from Creative Lives, we were able to support the travel expenses so that we could bring 9 ensemble members and 3 professional practitioners facilitating the weekend together for our first residential lab since the pandemic. We worked at the Millennium Centre in Stranraer and did everything from cardio workouts to shadow puppetry to physical theatre to writing spoken word poetry to on-camera work and more.

Many of our young artists have had a tough time thinking of themselves as artists since the challenges from the pandemic when all of the opportunities for emerging artists disappeared and we weren’t able to come together in shared spaces. And while we worked together online, there isn’t a substitute for the nourishing, inspiring, and essential need to create our ideas together in the same room. The residential lab was a huge success and has allowed PCS to launch into this next phase feeling re-energised and ready to continue creating innovative new theatre.

We are always looking for new members, so if you’re from (or somehow connected to Southwest Scotland), interested in developing your skills in theatre, and are between the ages of 16-25, we’d love to meet you!"