Guest blogger, Becci Sharrock, discusses her project and her views on The Word:
Let’s get something out of the way first. I LOVE The Word. I was fortunate enough to be invited to a tour of the building before it opened to the public and it was pretty much love at first sight. I’m a sucker for any library to be fair, but this? The curves, the light, the ability to stand in the middle of the ground floor and look up at rows of books, crisp white staircases and the beautiful ceiling. It had my heart from the get go. On top of that, since having the chance to work more closely with them, I can confirm the team at The Word are just as fantastic and inspiring. I’ve been amazed at the scope of events that have taken place there in such a short space of time and it’s a testament to all those working so hard to make it a real hub of activity for the community.
I’m a writer and theatre-maker and for the last couple of years I’ve been working on a project called Letters to Myself. It’s a project that explores the way that we talk to ourselves and, hopefully, allows people getting involved to have a bit of time out for themselves and the opportunity for some self-reflection. We are basically asking as many people as possible to write a letter to their past, present or future self and then (if they want to) to send it back in to the project. We’ve been doing this up and down the country and earlier this year, we toured a theatre show that we had created from some of the letters we received, from Inverness to London and everywhere in between.
In October, we were fortunate enough to be in residency at The Word and, during their one year anniversary celebrations, hosted a series of pop-ups in the building. We chatted to people as they came in and handed out free letter writing kits, and everyone we met was so generous and so warm we couldn’t help but feel at home. We had people stop and tell us their stories about growing up in South Shields, their families, their lives and often occasions of heart break or pain that they had experienced. It always feels such an honour when strangers choose to share those moments with you. I also ran workshops with groups at The Word as part of the WRITE Festival – which was a great chance to connect with other writers and to be able to see the wealth of creative talent in the area.
During our time at The Word, we have lots of letters returned to us; from writers as young as 5 and all the way up, sharing stories of joy and pain, celebration and grief.
Today, we had one day to rehearse a brand new script, that will get its very first airing at The Word tomorrow (Sat 2 Dec 17) and I can’t think of a better place to share it. It will be a script in hand performance and will include brand new letters entirely from South Shields residents and users of the building. Running at about 50 minutes, it’s a fictional tale but peppered throughout with the real letters we’ve received. It feels like a very special thing and I would love you to come and share it with us.