Steel Vermin Waltz – Friday 3rd August

Back in 10 – the first performance

Steel Vermin Waltz

This blog was written by Jon Rogers, a drama graduate from Wolverhampton University, and one of three shadow artists involved in Back in 10. 

For more information about Back in 10:

So, we’d finished the research into the shops of the Black Country, well, its never really finished… but we’d got enough to start devising the first performance! That’s just what we did when the third week of the project began, all eyes were on the the Trap Works and Mr Sidebotham (pronunciation is up to you, everyone seems to say it differently!)

Me and the other two graduates got to meet the rest of the devising team Dave, Rochi, Sonia and Pavan. For us three it really was a treat to be working with extremely creative and welcoming people, we could only hope they felt the same about us!

Introductions out of the way and with a cup of tea or coffee (or whatever Dave keeps in his tin), we were under way. After a short presentation from the graduates about the stories and facts we’d uncovered in the first two weeks, off we went to explore the Trap Works and speak to some of the amazing volunteers who work there.

Finally (after a couple of weeks trying) we got to see the Trap Works in full flow with the engine and presses all working simultaneously… what a difference it made! The whole space is transformed from a dusty old room to a fully functioning Victorian workplace.

We were lucky enough to be granted VIP access to the working area and cherry picked the parts we wanted to use. With this in mind we set off back up the hill and into our office (the old canteen at the back of the boat dock) to start some character development and a bit of good old improv.

With the tea flowing (there’s a theme here!) we sat down and got to work on a script that told the story of the workers and how you could either feel trapped and be done with it, or despite being in a gruelling, physically demanding job, you could still have your dreams and aspirations of a better life.

Using our imaginations and ability to believe, we set up our office as a fully functioning Trap Works, ready for rehearsals.. I say fully functioning; we just popped chairs on top of tables and began to work in the oppressive heat!

With a script in hand and costume fittings done, we were all set to take our piece down to the Sidebotham’s and rehearse it in the space it was being performed in, this really made the script and the characters come to life.

With rehearsals going well, it was nice to have time to step back and realise how lucky we were to be working in such a fantastic place in both an aesthetic and historical context. As Friday came around, we all felt really good about the piece we’d created, ‘Steel Vermin Waltz’, and we were looking forward to performing to the visitors to the Black Country Living Museum. Everything went well and the performances were great.

All that was left to do was to put the space back to normal, have a drink at the BCLM pub and get ready to go again the next week.