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Guest Blog: Director Rob Watt On Taking HUMAN NURTURE Into Theatres and Schools

The show begins at Sheffield's Studio Theatre

Guest Blog: Director Rob Watt On Taking HUMAN NURTURE Into Theatres and Schools
Rob Watt in rehearsal

In mid-lockdown and after the tragic death of George Floyd, writer Ryan Calais Cameron came to me with a clear and simple question - are people born racist? This started a wide-reaching, knotty and brilliant conversation with young people across the country.

Co-creation is fundamental to the way we make work at Theatre Centre. We met with students and teachers over Zoom and unpicked what it meant to belong, not just fit in, but to truly belong. We talked about what it would take to break a friendship and the evolution of language around race and class. It was clear that young people needed and wanted space away from social media to decompress, to explore why racism is still prevalent and look to reimagine the world.

After 12 months of these conversations Human Nurture was born. Ryan created an exquisite story that digs into these complicated conversations around race, class and belonging. It follows two friends, Runaku and Harry, who grew up in care together. While Harry is trying to hold onto the comfort of the past, Runaku is discovering a sense of belonging he has never felt before. It's a show full of love, misunderstanding, fear and, at times, an uncomfortable watch.

For me, theatre should be exactly this: a crucible for big crunchy discussions. I believe that theatre has a civic duty to entertain, educate and invigorate communities. We wanted to create something that allowed space to explore topics that have been polarised on social media, with hashtags being weaponised while people shout into the ether.

The show is aimed at young people and the adults in their lives. Adults, parents, teachers, carers, youth workers will all get an insight into how young people are navigating such complex conversations. My hope is that the show offers a perspective to ignite conversations that may not have previously happened. If students start to have conversations about racism and belonging with their teachers more, if parents are able to talk about the play with their children, if friends are able to have complicated conversations, then the show will have had impact.

Guest Blog: Director Rob Watt On Taking HUMAN NURTURE Into Theatres and Schools
Human Nurture

What is super exciting is that we are touring the show directly into schools as well as venues. We have always toured into schools - it is the basis of why the company was created over 68 years ago.

We are clear that theatre should not be a privilege but a necessity. Theatre shouldn't just be housed in big theatres but be found on people's doorsteps. Touring a show directly into a school hall is a powerful experience - young people who may not have ever considered going to the theatre have access in their school.

Throughout the making of the show, we have had four guiding principles: Openness, Radical Kindness, Presentness and Boldness. These principles helped us all have transparent and honest conversations. We were open about when we didn't have the answers and went away a researched them; we listened; we were kind even if we didn't agree with each other; we said things that sometime were scary to say.

Conversations like the ones that Runaku and Harry have in Human Nurture can be scary, they make us vulnerable, but ultimately if we don't have them then nothing will change - the world will carry on being the same. This is absolutely not an option.

Human Nurture is at the Studio Theatre in Sheffield until 12 February and then tours schools and theatres - find full dates and venues here

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