This is a guest blog from Laura Drane FRSA who is crowdfunding for her idea, Pandora's Locker, which uses opera and art production to educate young people in science, identity and self-expression.
Pandora’s Locker is a one-act youth opera that resets the original Greek myth of Pandora’s box in a contemporary high school. It will be performed by more than 15 exceptionally talented young people in their teens and twenties to - and for - their peers. But what’s a youth opera based on a Greek myth and encompassing everything from biomedics to gender going to do to address some of this? And how do I as a creative producer view this opportunity?
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had a varied career as an independent arts producer: I’ve worked on everything from choreography projects in primary schools, to city-wide public science festivals. And this unique journey has given me insight into many of the challenges young people face today – about gender, identity, power, personhood, creative self-expression, and more. Through my experience working with young people, the idea for Pandora's Locker emerged.
Why Pandora's Locker?
Firstly, through creative productions, I believe in putting artists and the public at risk of change (both their mindset and behaviour) through their encounters with each other. In the case of Pandora's Locker, the research and development phase will provide opportunities to do just that as we all work together to co-create the production – artists, scientists, partner organisations, and young people. I also believe that young people making work to be seen by their peers is a great way to increase its impact and authenticity. Additionally, we know from studies and reports that fewer girls and young women are choosing science subjects at school and going on to universities and careers in this area. Societal factors around gender, body image, mental health and more, all mean the pressure on both boys and girls growing up is enormous.
Pandora’s Locker delves into all of these themes and more. Within the piece, the narrative and characters directly address issues about gender, power and identity. Interwoven through this production is also one of the big scientific questions of our age in the form of the “nature/ nurture” debate – is it genetics that most impacts on who we are as individuals, or does the environment we grow up in play a major role?
In this pre-production phase of the work, I will be bringing together the creative team that will conjure the piece into life; working with young people to get their input and response; and rehearsing to create a performance of selected scenes to an invited audience. I hope to make a full-scale piece in 2015/6 if this version works well.
As a Fellow for quite a few years now and knowing the areas of RSA interest that this project crosses into (eg social brain, education, the arts), I was thrilled to know that it would be supported on the RSA-curated Kickstarter page and promoted to the 27,000 other Fellows worldwide.
How you can help
As the creative producer, I've already done the difficult and rewarding work of identifying three national partners, bringing in more than 80% of the funding (equivalent to £30,000), and securing many of the resources needed. My partners in this project are Welsh National Opera, Sinfonia Cymru, and Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and a large part of the funding has been granted by Arts Council of Wales. But without you, without your support, I cannot fully realise both the finances and plans made to date - and the fat lady cannot sing!
Please support this remarkable project mixing up science and opera to facilitate learning and understanding, allowing young people to influence and co-create a brand new production. I am seeking to raise just over £4,000 through the campaign, which you can support online. You can also help by spreading the word with your friends, family and networks who might be interested too.
Many thanks/ diolch yn fawr.
Laura Drane FRSA
Follow her @laurahd
Visit the RSA crowdfunding page.
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