My Inspiration: Jemma McDonnell | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Theatre company, The Paper Birds is pleased to announce the UK tour of Ask Me Anything, a new immersive show in which members of the multi-award-winning theatre company become agony aunts for young people. Featuring real-life verbatim stories, the show is set to the original live music from the singer-songwriter Rosie Doonan.

Opening in Live Theatre, Newcastle on Thursday 30th January, the show will be then presented in London as part of VAULT Festival before touring to Guildford, York, Birmingham, Brighton, Canterbury and Plymouth.

Jemma McDonnell, Co-Director of The Paper Birds tells us about what inspired the play.

I guess there were a few things that inspired us to make Ask Me Anything…

Problem Pages in Magazines – All of us, aside from Georgie who is 10 years younger, grew up in the 90s. Reading magazines was a major pass time (remember we had no internet or mobile phones). And one of our favourite parts of reading magazines what the problem pages. This is where people would ask about sex, or body problems, anxiety or bullying and it allowed the rest of us ( too scared to write a letter ourselves) to read the answers. It’s how we found out about the world or at least the stuff we cared about at 16.

As a company we do a lot of work in schools, we are constantly meeting teenagers and making shows with them but we hear a lot that concerns us. Life feels different for younger generations, they have grown up in a very different time to us. We really wanted to speak to young people about that- what do they really think about social media? are they disappointed with adults for not caring about the environment? What are their dreams and ambitions? But instead of sending a list of questions to young people, we realised it might be more interesting to ask them to ask us questions. Would they have the same worries and concerns that we had growing up? Have things changed that much? Would we have anything to teach them or wisdom to pass on?

Having Children – since a few of us became parents we really became aware of how hard it is to raise children. We talked a lot about what we were like at children and teenagers, the rules we broke, the risks we took. We realised that our parents, whilst seeming to be strict, boring and were just trying to do the best by us and that most of the time they didn’t know what they were doing either. We thought we could explore that in the show a bit.

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