Over 50s Shine On at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre


Anne McDyer, Pauline Harris and Iris Goldby in rehearsals for Shine On

For the first time ever Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre has been working with members of Coventry’s 50+ communities to create a brand new production called Shine On, which will run in the B2 auditorium from 28 to 30 June.

Working alongside Age UK, the Belgrade has been engaging members of the city’s 50+ communities via a number of creative workshops in a bid to develop their creative skills by exploring a range of exercises including movement work, storytelling and reminiscence theatre.

The workshops brought together participants from a diverse range of backgrounds and communities and with direction from project leader Antonia Beck, they devised the production Shine On, which aims to challenge some of the stereotypes attached to older people.

Featuring original poetry written by the participants, Shine On tells the story of a group of community members who join forces to save an old tree at risk of being bulldozed to make way for a multi-storey car park. Throughout the play the characters reflect on their lives, and explore important issues such as heritage, regeneration and the nature of age and what it means to be considered ‘old’.

Antonia Beck said, “The Belgrade is well known for the valuable work that is does with young people in Coventry, so it’s been great to turn that on its head by working with the city’s older generations too. For many of the participants, this will be the first time they have performed on a stage and it is fantastic to look back on their individual journeys and see how far everyone has come since the project started in October 2011. Shine On is an exciting culmination and celebration of everyone’s work and creativity.”

Participant Joyce Jones said, “Shine On has been a great experience and the whole group have developed skills as individuals. I never dreamt I would be treading the boards, but I was surprised at the confidence I found in myself. I’m already looking forward to the next season and stretching myself further.”

Shine On is part of the Belgrade’s Creative Gymnasium project. Funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Awards for All, the project aims to stimulate engagement with the arts as a way to promote health and well-being, both through participating in arts activity and as a way of exploring key issues.

Tickets for all of the Creative Gymnasium events are free, however the theatre will ask for a donation at the end of the performance. All proceeds will go towards supporting the Belgrade’s ongoing work within the local community, which is carried out by the Belgrade Community & Education Company.

The final production in the Creative Gymnasium is Close to Home which will run in B2 from 11 to 14 July and will see the Belgrade’s Black Youth Theatre explore the stories of people affected by HIV and AIDS in Coventry.