28 June 2012

As part of tenantspin's programme at FACT, and in partnership with Liverpool Mutual Homes, the Positive People's Platform will bring guests an evening of musical and technological entertainment.

The Positive People's Platform are a group of over-50s residents from LMH's Sheltered Housing Schemes from across Liverpool, there are 17 schemes in total. They have been working with tenantspin, FACT and professional artists to create a musical that tells some of their tales and experiences of technology.

We asked lead artist Alison Kershaw to give is a behind the scenes insight into the process...

"We began with workshops six months ago, where we talked about our experiences of digital technologies. I wanted to really find out how people felt about the changes they saw around them, not simply try to learn how to use computers. The themes that emerged from the discussions were that some people had a certain amount of fear and confusion about getting involved in using computers and mobile phones, but most were "having a go" with friends and family support. Some were more technically competent than they let on. How many times did someone's mobile go off during sessions!! There was frustration that when people did have a go, that equipment didn't work properly or that they hit a stumbling block and couldn't figure out the problem.

Some participants used digital technologies every day - and they were keen to highlight the advantages to the others and share their knowledge. There was also a note of healthy suspiscion - that somehow this revolution in technology was more about selling us things we didn't need.

We then began thinking about all the changes we'd lived through - how in the past, we were in the same position as young people are nowadays; where older people needed our help to work, for example with the new TV set in the sixties, and we talked about the world that radio and TV and telephony opened up for us, and how it held so much wonder and promise and how it had changed the workplace too.

We set up a website (www.positivepeoplesplatform.co.uk) for the group and here we were able to keep in touch during the project. Uploading videos, sharing ideas, booking sessions and choosing films we wanted to watch. The idea was that by making the project fun, technology would be just another tool to communicate.  Musical Director Jonathan Raisin wrote the songs based on these ideas, and we decided that the stories people told would form the basis of the show. From then on it's been practice, practice practice!! - oh yes, and at least one of the group now has her first laptop and is ready to dive in and start connecting with her friends.

The final message of the work is, no matter how you decide to connect, be it on the phone, via a computer or face to face, keep in touch with each other."

The musical Connected: Gaslight to Satellite takes place at FACT next Tuesday at 7pm. Tickets are priced £2 and can be booked in person at the box office, online, or by calling 0871 902 5737.