In April 2006 The Royal Shakespeare Company invited me to be a composer/collaborator/teacher for Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona a production performed as part of The Complete Works Festival in Stratford-upon-Avon. A collaboration between two companies of young people: – Nos do Morro (We of the hillside) based in Rio, Brazil and Gallery 37 based in Birmingham performed in Portugese and English.
Director Guti Fraga created Nos do Morro ten years ago in the hope that young people could find their way to a fulfilling life through the arts rather than through drugs and crime so prevalent in the favelas of Rio. Voice teacher Cissely Berry has been travelling to Rio every year to work with the young people of Nos do Morro on Shakespearean Texts. I was invited to go to Brazil with Cisely to work with the company.
Gallery 37 are an organisation in Birmingham that run arts and performance workshops for young people during the summer holidays encouraging people from different cultures and backgrounds to get involved.
My role in the production alongside director Deborah Shaw and Cissely Berry was to find a way of integrating Gallery 37 into the Nos do Morro production through music. The time frame of two weeks working with Gallery 37 and two weeks to put the two companies together was intense! Combining an experienced company of young people with a group that had done very little and some not at all was a challenge in itself. The cultural exchange between the young people was a joy to witness. I feel very proud to have been involved in such a project.