A new interactive “game theatre” play is being developed in Banbury and is set to tour Oxfordshire schools as well as theatres across parts of the UK this Spring.
Cherwell Theatre Company (CTC) are producing ‘Sam and Zoe Vs Evermore’, a new 'Dungeons and Dragons' inspired play in partnership with Arts Council England, Artswork and the Oxfordshire Cultural Education Partnership.
"Sam and Zoe Vs Evermore is inspired in part by the young people we work with, who are passionate about Dungeons and Dragons (“DnD”) but experience social anxiety. In our play Sam is depressed and Zoe can't seem to reach him, so she designs an interactive adventure to play with an audience, in a last ditch attempt to save their relationship." said CTC Artistic Director Tristan Jackson-Pate, who has written the play with Jess Lloyd-Jones and Krage Brown.
Gaming culture has recently been making headlines with online DnD groups thriving over lockdown and research showing engagement with RPGs can improve players’ empathy, frustration tolerance & problem solving skills.
"We were partially inspired by a US charity, Game to Grow who have pioneered therapeutic DnD experiences for young people with anxiety, ADHD & Aspergers" said Jackson-Pate. "They've seen amazing results from participants who won't attend therapy but increase their confidence, social interaction and sense of well-being through playing these wonderfully imaginative games. We’ve partnered with the charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) and Oxfordshire Response for this project, to promote honest conversations around mental health and explore communication in relationships, though with a light, comedic touch."
The play will tour secondary schools across the county, accompanied by practical mental health drama workshops for students. It then visits theatres across the UK including The Mill Arts Centre, Banbury on 18th March 2022 and The Old Fire Station Theatre, Oxford on 23rd and 24th March 2022.
As the play enters rehearsal, young people will have the opportunity to work with professional actors and directors, exploring approaches to give audiences agency through playing supporting characters, helping create practical effects, even influencing the narrative through collective voting and decision making in the show.
Actor Jess Lloyd-Jones, who was last seen in CTC's Myth II in 2021 joins Krage Brown as a returning actor/writer for this production.
"Self care is so important but changing negative habits which affect our mental health can be easier said than done" said Lloyd-Jones "talking about it is the first step, and I'm excited to explore this through the fantasy world of DnD with CTC's young people!"
With students from Banbury and Oxford City Colleges and young people from the company’s youth groups taking part, Cherwell Theatre Company is offering a free opportunity for new participants aged 11+ to help explore the concept during the upcoming half term holiday.
"We're especially interested in hearing from those with a passion for fantasy gaming" said Jackson-Pate "We'll be working throughout February half term at Banbury College, so if you're interested in taking part in the afternoons, please drop us a line to email@example.com".
To book tickets for the show, or to get involved in its development, please visit www.cherwelltheatrecompany.co.uk/sam-and-zoe-vs-evermore
2022 Tour Dates
17 March, 7.45pm : Cheltenham Everyman Theatre
18 March, 7.30pm : The Mill Arts Centre, Banbury
19 March, 7.30pm : The Brewhouse, Taunton
23 and 24 March, 7.30pm : Old Fire Station Theatre, Oxford
25 March, 7.30pm : Worthing Theatres
30 March, 7.30pm : Wells Maltings
31 March, 7.30pm : The Place, Bedford
01 April, 7.30pm : The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton - BSL Interpreted and audio described performance
02 April, 7.30pm : Harrogate Theatre
30 April, 8.00pm : Royal & Derngate Theatres, Northampton