Theatre Production

The theatre production was a celebration of, and provided a window on, the diversity of British culture and society.

Quick Links

Video - Documentary

  • Paradise Sweets
  • Early Rehearsal
  • Documentary part 1
  • Documentary part 2
  • Documentary part 3
  • Documentary part 4

Video - Performance

  • Arrivals - Scene 1
  • The Shop Day - Scene 2
  • Traditional Sweet Shop - Scene 3
  • Specialist Shop - Scene 4
  • Christmas Eve - Scene 5
  • Shop Community - Scene 6
  • Hard Times - Scene 7
  • Private/Public: Sitting Room - Part 1 - Scene 8
  • Private/Public: Shop - Part 2 - Scene 9
  • End of the Day - Scene 10

Image Gallery 1 - Set Design

Click on thumbnails below to see full image.

Image Gallery 2 - The Cast

Related Downloads

To download documents - 'Alt' click (PC) / 'Ctrl' click (mac) the icon and select 'Save Target As' from the menu.

Audience Quotes

"As an audience member moving from scene to scene I also felt like one of the threads and part of a connection with the community."

"The stories and the stage-management felt so natural and familiar it almost felt as if it was part of my own personal history, which I believe was evoked by the sympathetic attention to detail from all concerned."

"The performance was fantastic! It was really poignant and gave a message of how diversity brings people together."

Partner Quotes

"I thought The Corner Shop performance was amongst the most effective and creative representations of local heritage that I have ever seen. It was produced to a high standard and dealt with important contemporary issues in a very deft and accessible way."
Rachel Hasted, Head of Social Inclusion and Diversity, English Heritage

"Creating a show like The Corner Shop helps us to connect with audiences who may never come into a traditional theatre. The show is social history and showed how the arts can be used to connectwith communities. The show unfolded and was cinematic in the split of narrative and timeline. And because of the nature of the production we could take audiences out of their comfort zone."
Frances Land of Foursight Theatre, Co-Director of The Corner Shop

Related Links


Video - Documentary
1 of 50 Paradise Sweets by Alan McLean © 2008

2 of 50 Early Rehearsal by Black Country Touring and Foursight Theatre © 2008

3-6 of 50 Documentary parts 1-4 © Jonathan Lee

Video - Performance
7-16 of 50. Scenes 1-10 by © Stand Tall Productions.

Image Gallery 1 - Set Design
17 and 19-23 of 50 by The Corner Shop Project Partnership © 2008

18 of 50 by Anand Chhabra © 2008

24-25 of 50 by The Corner Shop Project Partnership © 2009

Image Gallery 2 - The Cast
26-30 and 40-42 of 50 by Anand Chhabra © 2008

31-37 of 50 by Robert Day © 2009

38-39 of 50 by The Corner Shop Project Partnership © 2009

Main Body

21 of 50 by The Corner Shop Project Partnership © 2008

42 of 50 by Anand Chhabra © 2008

43 of 50 by Black Country Touring © 2008

44-45 of 50 by Anand Chhabra © 2008

46-47 of 50 by The Corner Shop Project Partnership © 2008

49-50 of 50 by Robert Day © 2009

Theatre Production

The Corner Shop theatre production was created in a shop and based on real stories collected with Black Country shopkeepers, their families and customers.

An empty shop was transformed into 9 different spaces: including real-looking shops, living spaces above or behind shops and imagined shops. The audience moved through each space learning all about Black Country corner shops.


  • Create exciting and beautiful theatre using oral history recordings collected with Black Country corner shop communities and present it in an unusual way.
  • Present Black Country stories to Black Country and wider audiences. Expose new audiences to heritage through engaging theatre.
  • Provide many opportunities for community participation during the creation of the production.

Even before the research had started an empty shop was identified and secured as the venue for the performance.

Initially the two directors: Frances Land from Foursight Theatre and Steve Johnstone from Black Country Touring listened to all of the interviews. Common themes were drawn out as well as distinctive stories. A loose framework was created in collaboration with Purvin the designer, Rochi Rampal, who was responsible for scripting, and the musical directors Sheema Mukherjee and Derek Nisbet. The framework included recurrent themes, specific stories and types of shops.

Working on the first floor of the empty shop a professional cast of 6 were provided with selected copies of the recordings to listen to, make note of and become expert at. Under the guidance of the directors the actors devised material through improvisation over a 3 week rehearsal. As this structure developed the material was scripted.

Downstairs Purvin led a professional team of 4 designer/makers supported by many design placements. The space downstairs was transformed from one large oblong room with small accounts office to 9 spaces: 5 small, 3 medium and 1 large.

Two thirds of the way into the rehearsal period the community cast (aged from 7 - 55) joined the team within their designated roles. The extended cast were used sensitively i.e. within their capabilities.

As the production required careful audience management a team of community stewards were trained to move the audience during the performance.

Back to Top


  • High quality, imaginative, intimate theatre reflecting the history of Black Country shops over the past 60-years.
  • Proven and successful way of working: using original research material and presented artistically.
  • Broad/large team of 30 professionals, work placements and volunteers (aged from 7 - 55) worked on the production.
  • Reached audience of 1835 over 41 performances. Feedback from 34% of audience: 94% stated 'Excellent' and 6% 'Good'.
  • Initially developed, engaged and staged in West Bromwich with Sandwell communities (2008); 2009 production developed, engaged and staged in Wolverhampton with Wolverhampton and Sandwell communities.

Back to Top

Useful Tips / Reminders

  • Produce Partnership Agreement between key partners.
  • Plan for much listening time for interviews.
  • Plan sufficient time between oral history research completion and production start.
  • Ensure venue is licensed for public performances; if not acquire a TENS license.
  • Original stories can be very rich but must be used sensitively and responsibly.
  • Keep an eye on practicalities e.g. use a fully tested and established box office booking system; make sure the electrics in the venue are reliable.

Back to Top

Quantative Info for 2008 and 2009

The two theatre productions were supported by 66 volunteers:

  • 22 community performers.
  • 12 design placements.
  • 1 stage management placement.
  • 31 community stewards.

Audience make-up for 2008 and 2009
White British Asian White Other Black British Mixed Heritage Asian Other Disabled
64% 14% 6% 5% 4% 4% 2% 7%

Back to Top