Haunt Spa Towns – 2017 and beyond
To inhabit, visit, or appear to in the form of a ghost.
n. A place much frequented.
To haunt one’s thoughts or memory.
The history of this town haunts us.
These buildings in which we live are spectres of past opulence.
The healing of this town is not for us.
The English Spa Town. A genteel place of tea rooms and tourism, health and heritage, water and wealth.
But not for everyone who lives there. For the most marginalised citizens of these towns, this popular history is a haunting presence in their lives. In the fabric of buildings where they live in one room, or the parks where they sleep.
In October 2017, the Haunt creative team were invited to do a five day residency at The Cheltenham Everyman Theatre, working with participants from homeless charity P3. Continuing our exploration of spa towns, hauntings and contemporary stories with those inhabitants who experience homeless and marginalisation, we ran workshops in creative writing, physical theatre and movement.
The week was arranged to offer different ways for participants to tell stories, and to bring them together and share them, focussing on significant places, significant objects and stories that attach to them. In particular, the week would explore themes of two realities co-existing within the fabric of one town. Photographer Paul Floyd Blake worked with participants to create images of self and place which tell the stories they want to share.
We worked with a group of 9 participants, plus six P3 and Everyman staff. Six participants performed work which they had created at a sharing of the work with P3 staff on Thursday evening and a performance to an invited audience on Friday.
The response from charity P3 was glowing, with some individual outcomes that astonished staff.
“Thank you so much for all your hard work. It’s been life changing. Can’t thank you enough !”
Josh, P3 Manager
For Imove, the project was a further testament to the power of arts to make significant shifts in people’s lives, in particular the opportunity to tell their stories and define their identities in creative and powerful ways that will be heard.
Creative Team :
Paul Floyd Blake, Becky Cherriman, Tessa Gordziejko, Tom Hunt, Zoe Parker, Steve Toase.
Thanks to Camille Cowe and Martin Lycett at Cheltenham Everyman for leading on the partnership with P3.
“The lapwing had taken all his words, leaving him no voice for his own story…”
A collection of work created through the Harrogate Haunt project was published in a pocket-sized book that brings together poems and stories by people who have experienced homelessness in Harrogate, with moving portraits and landscapes by award winning photographer Paul Floyd Blake.
“and where were you when the fire burned down my soul?”
The anthology was launched in 2015 at the Royal Pump Rooms Museum. Copies of the anthology can be bought for £5.00 + P&P, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Proceeds will go towards future Haunt projects with peopl;e experiencing homelessness.
This film shown below is ‘Homelessness and Bedsitterland in Harrogate’ by Haunt contributor Richard Harries who’s written about his experiences of homelessness in 60s Harrogate.
To read more about the Haunt Harrogate writing project, visit Haunt’s own blog site
Photo credits: Paul Floyd Blake, Lizzie Coombes, Elenid Davies, Steve Eggleston, Fabric Lenny, Sarah Mason, Al Orange, Sean Phillips, Andy Wood