Review: Gala Night

Friday 05/08/2016, Settle Stories Learning Programme - Gala Night 

Reviewed by Gill O'Donnell for The Craven Herald and Pioneer

A key aim of Settle Stories as an organisation is to encourage individuals and groups to find their voice and tell their own stories. As part of this they have been working with a wide variety of groups in recent months to introduce them to the new skills required to produce their own animations. This work was undertaken in partnership with Virpi Kettu who's worked with top professional companies such as Aardman to animate the likes of 'Wallace & Gromit', 'Shaun the Sheep'. 

The result of this 6 month project was shown in the range of short films which comprised the gala night programme. Working with groups as diverse as pupils at Bentham and Gargrave Primary Schools, Settle Youth Club, and the Duke Street Resource Centre for adults with learning difficulties as well as local members of the general public of a variety of ages who had attended workshop sessions was clearly a very challenging task but also obviously ultimately an extremely rewarding one. None of the groups had previously had any experience of working with animation and they not only had to understand the basic skills required they all then wrote scripts, planned stories, sculpted figures, created backdrops, provided soundtracks and narration and animated their films. No small achievement in view of the severe time restraints. The resulting short films were by turns quirky and delightful. Those from the primary schools had perhaps more problems with structure but what they lacked in technical expertise they made up for in imagination and enthusiasm with some excellent voice-overs and clever ideas, including some very amusing instances of animated title sequences.  The final product developed by Settle Youth Club reflected not only the age difference of those involved, incorporating far more sophisticated ideas but also suggested that more time had been available to work on ways of incorporating life action and animation. Again this piece was inventive and amusing  and quite surreal in places. What was clear was that it had been an awful lot of fun as well as a lot of work and all those involved should be very proud of their finished piece.  The second half of the programme was made up of the short films completed by individuals who had attended the workshops. Again there was a great diversity in the styles adopted with some being quite complicated ideas and others being both simple and very effective. What unified them was that they all demonstrated the great amount of creative talen locally and the incredible amount of patience and thought which had gone into completing these projects. Overall approximately 84 people took part in the project and quite clearly all have benefitted hugely from the experience, learning not only new skills but also the confidence to express their ideas in a new way.

However, the greatest revelation of the evening came with the final film. Created by  the staff and participants at Settle Resource Centre, the film was a documentary about what happens at 30 Duke Street.  This was an extremely accomplished and incredibly poignant film which demonstrated not only great skill but also showed the value of the centre itself to those who attend. The figures had been created by those taking part to represent themselves and the moving narration highlighted each character in turn, explaining how the Centre supports them and provides them with a way of being part of the community.  As one of the group concluded,  "It's like a family. It helps people to come together."  The point at which each member then lifted up their "character" was particularly powerful and if ever there was any doubt about the value of this kind of project then the way in which it gave this particular group a way of opening up their lives to others was an undeniable justification of the potency of creating a means of self-expression. It is hoped that the films will be available as a blog and download shortly, including posting the Duke St film to their webpage. I can only urge everyone to watch, it will change your perceptions completely.


Find out more about the work Settle Stories does through our Learning Programme. Click here.