Updated: Jun 28, 2018
"Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics." ~ Victor Pinchuk (Businessman and Oligarch)
"There are so many of us that walk past people living homeless on the streets, every day, and we don't bat an eyelid," Jamie Lomas says to an audience of early-career actors. "Every single one of those people has a story. They have a reason why they're there."
It needn't be said that this past decade has proven to be a difficult one, with the crash of 2008 the world was thrown into a turbulent recession, which has affected the majority of us. Some more than others...
If you live within - or have visited - a major city in the United Kingdom, you will have likely seen a high count of homeless individuals living on the streets. Despite its skyline filled with cranes and property development prospering from quarter-to-quarter, on the ground Manchester has seen a dramatic rise of people who don't have a roof over their heads.
Jamie holds up three fingers and moves from member-to-member, holding eye contact with each one, driving the point home: "We're all three steps away from being homeless. Not everyone has a support network like we have."
This is where Hollyoaks actor and 'I'm a Celebrity...' contestant Jamie Lomas - along with friend and frequent collaborator, writer and director Chris Green - decided to create an actors' workshop that raised money and awareness for a charity called CentrePoint, which provides housing and support for young people in London, Manchester, Yorkshire and the North East and through partnerships all over the UK.
Writing a series of short scripts featuring two characters in a specific homeless scenario, Chris focused on creating each piece to represent a moment in the life of someone coping with life on the streets.
It was then the actors' job to interpret that material and bring it to life as a live performance in front the rest of the class, which was to be followed by constructive feedback from Jamie and Chris.
"It's not just about saying words on a page, anybody can do that," Jamie advises the class. "It's about creating a character."
Paper Sky Productions counts itself lucky to have been a part of this workshop; capturing the rehearsals, talks, performances and interviewing the actors, as well as the main team behind the event itself, to create a short documentary that will be used to promote CentrePoint UK, as well as raising awareness for the homeless epidemic across the country.
As a production company, we're passionate about story-telling and the power it has - no matter what the message may be - in this case, the message is a powerful and very real one. Taking part in a project that uses creativity, performance and art to pull into focus a problem - that is sadly becoming rather desensitising to most of us, as more and more people feel the affects of a troubled economy - was a rewarding experience.
Here, JLA Talent and CentrePoint have demonstrated how the arts and stories can empower people into taking action and to make a positive change in the world.
"I've been blown away!" says Chris, after a long day of rehearsals, performances and discussions. "We've had over forty people come down and - without a doubt - all forty of them sharing one thing: which is an absolute passion for the craft of acting."
Throughout the day, over twenty performances were held in front of Jamie, Chris and the rest of the group - each one delivering a different interpretation of the scripts that were assigned to them.
After the day was said and done, Jamie and Chris take a moment to reflect on how the whole day played out:
"It's been a thrill for me," says Chris. "Just to see the dialogue that I wrote for the homeless scenarios - the ways that people interpreted it and the different ways that they delivered it - I think it's been an amazing success."
With the awareness raised for the homeless crisis that the United Kingdom is up against, along with the money donated to CentrePoint, a major rewarding factor for the attendees that day was the valuable feedback, collaboration and voice of experience from Jamie and Chris.
"One of the key factors of today was the communication between the two people on the stage," Jamie tells the camera, Chris knowingly nodding to every word he says. "That is what's key between actors. To forget what is going on behind you - or the camera - and just concentrate on the job ahead, your motivation in the scene and what your actors are saying; and listening."
With the success and positive reception of the workshop, JLA Talent seeks to go further using the craft of performance and story-telling to encourage and inspire further positive change across the country.
Using the short documentary that was filmed and edited by Paper Sky Productions, JLA intends to use the film to showcase at Manchester City Council, charity balls, government meetings and other events where the message of combating the issue of homelessness can drive much-needed change.
"If we can change one person's life by doing this, then we've done our job," Jamie says in a final statement before wrapping up for the day. "We want to say a big thank you to everyone who came along today."
If you would like to learn more about CentrePoint UK or would like to make a donation, you can find further information at their website: www.centrepoint.org.uk
Do you have a story, service, message or brand that you wish to connect with your audience? Get in touch with Paper Sky Productions and we'll bring your vision to life with a beautiful one-of-its-kind video: email@example.com