“Every hall in Scotland – indeed the UK should have one!”
In 2012, Right Lines developed the idea of a new cross-generational film-making and reminiscence project in Moray. The aim behind the Hall Tales Project was to enhance social inclusion and community involvement in rural areas by innovatively combining an original theatre show with a multi-media exhibition of recollections specifically in relation to the village hall located in six different local communities in Moray.
Once a funding package had been completed, including awards from Moray Leader, Awards For All, The Arts Council for Moray, plus private donations from businesses and individuals and an in-kind contribution from Right Lines, the project got under way in November 2012. Participating halls were identified and engaged with the project and each hall contributed £400 towards the overall costs of the project. A film-maker and administrator were then appointed and the project commenced in earnest. Additional help was provided by a Publicity Agent, who worked in a voluntary capacity to support the project and engage with potential private sponsors and donors.
“I hope productions like this continue despite the budget/funding cuts. Right Lines excellent as ever.”
Young people’s film-making workshops were established in connection with the six selected village halls in Moray – Alves, Craigellachie, Dyke, Kinloss, Portessie and Rafford. Four of the six groups were established in local Primary schools, allowing the children to engage with the project in line with the aims and objectives of Curriculum For Excellence. These groups were run during the winter months by Tim Flood, the professional film-maker appointed to the project. Stories and tales relating to their own halls and local area were gathered from senior members of each local community during reminiscence sessions, with the young people interviewing and recording the contributors in their own homes, at the school or in the village hall itself.
Hall Tales Evenings
The resulting video footage was edited and condensed into a short film for each participating Hall and presented as part of the Hall Tales evening. The dates for each event were as follows: Kinloss – 15th March, Rafford – 16th March, Alves – 21st March, Craigellachie – 22nd March, Portessie – 23rd March and Dyke – 30th March. Artefacts, memorabilia and old photographs were also gathered by the local community and presented in an exhibition which was timed to coincide with a performance of Watching Bluebottles, a one man play about the life of a village hallkeeper.
Very powerful performance. Possibly more important was a hall full of people. Fabulous evening and a great community project.
Watching Bluebottles was considered to be the ideal theatre piece for this project as the play is set in a village hall and concerns village halls. Although the story is fictional and the character of the hallkeeper is an “everyman” figure in terms of village hall life, the show was adapted to the layout of each specific venue and used the whole hall as the stage. In this way, each performance of the play was unique to the individual hall in which it took place. The audience members were “invisible” as the hallkeeper moved around the room, reminiscing and recalling memories from times gone by.
“Absolutely brilliant performance by Ron Emslie and very well written. Had me laughing one minute and crying the next.”
Right Lines proposed that Hall Tales would be a unique way of encouraging community involvement and co-operation in a project that spanned the generations. Such was the enthusiasm displayed by the participating Hall Committees, the young people and the contributors, that the outcome exceeded our expectations in terms of the overall success of the project.
As part of the process of Evaluation, we devised an Audience Feedback sheet which was inserted into the free Hall Tales programme distributed to all audience members on the night of the event. Samples of the audience comments are noted throughout this report and a copy of the full feedback document collated from each Village Hall is attached to this report. The original feedback forms have been retained and are available for inspection if required.
The overwhelming message was that the play was very highly-rated with tremendous praise for the actor, Ron Emslie, who performed the role of the hallkeeper with great skill and professionalism. Hall Tales as a whole was also commended for “doing exactly what it said on the tin”: it delivered a cross-generational project which combined original theatre with film-making, social history and reminiscence work. As a direct result, a level of social interaction, mutual respect and understanding was achieved which was not present in the local communities prior to the venture taking place.
“This gave me a sense of how important it is to have a village hall and bring people out and meet their neighbours.”
Marketing and Publicity
Each Hall Committee was charged with the responsibility for marketing their own event, but Right Lines provided posters and press releases to assist with this process. The company also distributed Press Releases widely among the local press – Northern Scot, Forres Gazette, Banffshire Advertiser and Herald – and achieved a tremendous amount of editorial coverage. The project was also featured on Moray Firth Radio and an excerpt of the play was filmed by the BBC for a feature on the Arts Cuts in Moray which was broadcast on the BBC Sunday Politics Show on 24/3/13.
Adverts were placed in local papers, The Knock News, 6 editions of Spotlight and on the Moray Council website and other free websites relating to Moray and Highland areas.
In addition, information was disseminated by social media methods – Twitter (RightLinesPro) and Facebook (Right Lines) and photos and details were posted on the Right Lines website.
The funding package also allowed Right Lines Productions to make a short promotional film of Watching Bluebottles. This was recorded over two days on location at Alves Village hall and the finished version will be available in early June 2013. In due course, there will be a link to the film on the Right Lines Vimeo site.
Hall Tales was a tremendously successful project, evidenced by the feedback provided by the audience members who attended the events in the village halls. Each Hall Committee also expressed their gratitude for being involved in such an inspiring project and the team members engaged to work on the project were also enthusiastic in their praise for the way in which Hall Tales had been organised. It would serve as a template for similar projects which could be established elsewhere in Scotland and indeed anywhere across the UK, or around the world! One audience member in Kinloss commented that the event transported her back to her village hall in Tasmania – clearly indicating the international potential for the format!
Right Lines Productions has successfully co-ordinated the project and brought it in on time and on budget. We trust that this report is a helpful assessment of Hall Tales and will allow Moray Leader to sign off the project.
“Great show! Beautifully played!! We hope you can continue to produce such fantastic work.”