(*Delighted, Enchanted, “Nice to meet you” in French)
My name is Julie, I’m French and I’m thrilled to be joining the Black Box team as the new European volunteer for the next year.
Such a good craic to be finally here! Indeed, 2 years ago, when I was still living in France, I was dreaming of travelling in the UK and Ireland while keeping working in arts and cultural organisations. And after one year of enriching film festival experience in Scotland, here I am, arrived in Belfast 2 months ago!
When I arrive in a new city, I like to fill up with my first impressions. Wandering and wondering in the not yet familiar places, I concentrate on the first naïve and raw perceptions, trying to record them in my mind. So I could trace them back later when I will feel familiar with the city, something close to home. Looking back and digging through the memories; shifting between the actual and the remembered to estimate my belonging to the city.
In that way, somewhere in my head are the impressions of my early days at the Black Box: amazed by the creative vibrations surrounding the place, warmly greeted by a lovely bunch of inspiring folks… I knew that I was holding the opportunity to quench my cultural curiosity. And also to fulfil my aspirations for creative initiatives with a social impact within the community. Indeed, my main mission at Black Box is to support the team with several outreach projects, mostly working alongside adults with learning disabilities and older people.
One of my favourite projects is Creating Connections, a weekly art-based workshop which aims to engage older adults with learning disabilities in creative activities. Combining well-being, fun and creativity, the sessions regularly host local artists and tend to experiment creative ways to socialise and learn new skills.
Over the last months, Creating Connections group has been thrilled to welcome jointly two artists: the singer and musician Katie Richardson and the visual artist Charlotte Bosanquet. Together, they have been shaping a vivid and uplifting performance, featuring karaoke songs, dance, live painting and storytelling: The Wedding. This alternative modern fairy tale was presented in early October, for which occasion the Black Box was transformed into a pop-up fairy celebration setting.
Just to give you a glimpse of what it was like: As an entrance, a red barnum tent houses dangling mobiles depicting fairy characters. Several vivid and festive painted banners are hanging from the ceiling and in the middle of the room, a long celebration table is covered by a colourful and flowery drawn tablecloth.
Proudly wearing our hand-drawn boiler suit costumes, we are going on stage, taking place behind the microphones. And the show can start:
Everybody is looking for something …
Wooaahh Oohhhh oohh ooth
To cheerfully grip the audience, the lyrics of the catchy tunes and hum-along songs are scrolling on the screen behind us. Gradually the stage fright and the shyness give way to excitement and some drops of sweat. So we keep on singing our lungs out.
Yeah! I wanna dance with somebody
With somebody who loves me
Oh humhum humhumhum mmm mmm….
By the time we catch our breath, a collection of recorded voices tells the quirky modern fairy tale written by two participants, tying together the cheerful elements of our truly lively showcase.
As a joyful jumble, The Wedding captures the creativity and the experimental, the spontaneous and the enthusiasm we aim to explore every week in our drop-in group.