We invited writer, dramaturg and arts journalist Hari Berrow to venture up to Wrexham to see A Proper Ordinary Miracle. Here, she offers an insight into what audiences experienced during the show.
Four years of work culminated in Wrexham last month with A Proper Ordinary Miracle, the latest production from NTW TEAM.
A Proper Ordinary Miracle explored homelessness and the growing housing crisis – both prevalent issues within the newly named city. Wrexham artists Anastacia Ackers and Natasha Borton worked with director Catherine Paskell to facilitate the show, developing it alongside local organisations and individuals from throughout the city.
‘Each beat of the show takes inspiration from collaboration with local artists and musicians at the heart of our community. Through workshops and choir rehearsals we’ve embedded local voices across this show. The love and support is felt throughout the rehearsal room and beyond. This project is a dream come true. It’s an opportunity to reveal Wrexham’s identity on a national stage, from the comfort of our own streets.’
Assistant Director and TEAM Panel member
‘The community of Wrexham breathe and sing and shout through each moment of the show, since they developed every single aspect. The show has inspired and taught us all what miracles can happen when you are willing to give up your ego, trust communities to lead, and actively challenge entrenched power and hierarchies in theatre making and in society.’
A Proper Ordinary Miracle was a site-specific piece split into two storylines: one following a group of homeless protestors seeking to stop the redevelopment of the church and their campsite into new apartment complexes, and the other following Summit Development, a company looking to convince the audience to invest in luxury apartments in order to fund a new plot of affordable housing. Both sides had their strengths and their flaws, and the core question of the piece was whether a compromise could ever be reached.
The protestors’ route around the city explored the community spirit and companionship of the group. Creating a map of every homeless person and service in the city, characters walked audience members through the back streets, inviting them to explore the world through someone else’s eyes. As audiences travelled with them, they drank travel cups of tea and met the locals, listening to the music that their travelling band played.
The developer’s route saw the audience travel to the world of investors and swanky cocktail bars, where, if you invested just a small amount, your wealth would double, even triple. There was a spanner in the works, however: Francesca, the company’s spokeswoman living in a woman’s shelter, voiced concerns about what the new housing developments would mean for the homeless and the city as a whole.
Then, victory or disaster - depending what side you stood on: an economic crash. Stock prices plummeted, the value of Summit Developments went through the floor. The audience were invited to a local conference centre to hear Summit Development’s latest news. Once they arrived, they were greeted by Wrexham’s One Love Choir – a grassroots community project for people who have struggled with homelessness, mental health difficulties and addiction. After they had performed, both groups discovered that the developers had been forced to move to ‘Plan B’, meaning their affordable houses had doubled in price, and leaving Francesca priced out of the home she was promised as part of her role in the company.
The final section of the play saw conflict turn to resolution – the two groups were invited to come together, and the developers, in the same way as the audience had once been, were invited to see the world from another perspective. Leaving the conference centre, everyone was greeted with a physical theatre piece from the students at Coleg Cambria, before finally travelling to the protestors’ campsite. The musicians played on a make-shift stage, and all listened, gathered around fires dotted across the field. The audience ate hot soup handed out by volunteers and heard both sides tell their stories. The two groups realised that they weren’t able to resolve one another’s problems: that the issue was bigger than any of them. The play ended with a call to action for local government, charities, and to the audiences brought together: invest in services that make a difference and support causes that listen to the people who are struggling.
As audiences travelled through the streets of Wrexham, they were joined by locals who decided to follow along the way. Community members decided to join the production just days before it started. A Proper Ordinary Miracle was an invitation for the community not just to watch, but to be involved in theatre.
Did you see the show? How do you feel about it? Did you know how involved the community was before you saw it? Does it change your perspective to know where the performers came from?
We’d love to hear what you thought, feel free to give us a shout on socials or let us know via email.