The Sound of Yellow

Written by the company in collaboration with Francesca Beard
Director: Matthew Xia
Associate Director: Emma Baggott
Designer: Samal Blak

Community performance The Sound of Yellow was performed at the Young Vic in the summer of 2014. The piece explores the moments of astonishment that we all experience, when life reveals itself to us and how past events and memories block us from experiencing life at its fullest.

The Sound of Yellow is one of the most important pieces of theatre I have been involved in, the creatives involved share the belief that supporting people exploring their own voice, the stories they choose to tell and how they tell them is a crucial part of a theatre’s function

The Young Vic contacted Matthew Xia and myself in early 2014 this year as the Taking Part department at the Young Vic were producing a parallel production in reaction to Peter Brook and Marie-Helene Estienne’s Valley of Astonishment. The outcome was unknown, however we had strong stimuli in The Conference of the Birds (an epic 12th Century Persian text) and the neurological phenomenon synaesthesia.

We’ve been worked with four different community groups over three months to create The Sound of Yellow. We started working primarily with Kairos Community Trust, St Mungo’s Broadway and Foundation 66 – all set up to support those in rehabilitation – and our Two Boroughs participants developing performance and ensemble skills, introducing The Conference Of The Birds (and the various allegorical tales contained within), and synaesthesia through games and exploratory exercises. It was fundamental to us that the cast would have ownership over the production and as such we asked the participants to contribute not only to the physical life of the production but also to the text. We introduced the Young Vic community choir Open Voices in the final stages of the development process.

Through a series of spoken word workshops led by writer and performance poet Francesca Beard we extracted sensory memories of exceptional events in the participants lives to contribute to the narrative of the production. All the words spoken by the participants are their own stories that have been woven together by Francesca.

In The Sound of Yellow moments of astonishment were the catalysts needed to propel our participants forward on their journey from addiction to recovery.

Emma Baggott