We have developed a participatory performance tour of the library for young people with special needs. The tour uses typical Peoplescape Theatre techniques: applied theatre, multi-sensory stimulus and a strong narrative. This work was commissioned following the success of ‘Welcome to Cottonopolis’, funded by the Arts Council.
The research and devising was funded by the Martin Harris Project (Universtiy of Manchester) The tour will be delivered by in-house staff and so training and a devising workshop with staff were part of the process.
The tour includes meeting William of Blade and East, Printing Co. who is responsible for printing the invitations to the official opening of The John Rylands Library in 1899. During their visit, the young people will take on the roles of craftspeople, carpenters and stonemasons, who have made the building. They will also meet Enriqua Rylands who knew her own mind in regard to what she wanted the building to encapsulate and how this should be shown. She is very pleased with the work of the craftspeople but is discontented with Williams invitations; “they are not beautiful” This is William’s dilemma and the young people, as experts in making beautiful shapes and images in their carvings advise and encourage him.
The tour finishes with a welcome in the Reading Room and music from the Royal Artillary Brass Band (as at the opening in 1899)