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  • Liberdade

There’s something about the place, it’s got a special vibe, which sounds very 1960s, but it has.

Do is a local resident of Gosforth and Liberdade Volunteer.

This is the transcript from an interview we did with her to find out why she decided to volunteer and what she thinks about Liberdade a year on.

So, can you tell us bit about how you came to volunteer with Liberdade?

I volunteered for liberdade almost by chance. I had just moved to Newcastle, just moved to Gosforth, and saw a huge sign outside that said Gosforth theatre and so I was intrigued by that, since I’ve been involved in community theatre and so on, so I literally walked in and said ‘’who’s looking after this place’’ and left my name with Tim I think, behind the counter in the café… or Joseph… one of them, and said ‘’ are you in charge’’ and Joseph said ‘’well I’m in charge of this but not the volunteering for liberdade’’ so I left my name and address and came back a week or so later and Rob who is the executive in charge effectively, he was wandering about doing something and I said are you in charge and he said “ah…hum yes’’ then I asked him about working here and that was it really, and we more or less stared straight away. I got involved literally, the week after. Obviously we had to do things like police checks and all that sort of stuff, but more or less from that day I started coming along and working with the group on a Tuesday morning.

Just quickly, what do you do with the group?

Mostly I’m interested in working… the people working do a lot of movement and they are very good at that, so there are already people here doing things in dance and with movement and theatre skills and so on, and I thought, and discussed this with Rob, that my input should be more to do with words. With actually getting peoples voices heard be cause in a literal sense their voices need to be heard and in a more sort of theatrical sense it needs to be heard because most of them are very good. They’ve got lots of things to say, all of them have lots of things to say. They can’t always articulate it very clearly so I was concerned, I’m still concerned, to get people to articulate clearly, which sounds quite old fashioned but, I think its very important and certainly the guys doing it seem to think it is.

So I think you were about to say what your interested in, so is that the kind of thing your interested in doing?

I’m interested in two things. I’ve always been very interested in community theatre and lots of people working together lots of people from different backgrounds, whatever, and anybody and everybody who wants to be involved, being involved so there’s no ‘’ You can’t do that’’ and ‘’you can’t do that’’ everybody being involved, and working with these particular people they can do just about anything they want to do, so I’m interested in putting that forward and seeing people working in a sort of workshop situation which is what we do on a Tuesday morning. Working with people when their actually on stage which is a whole other dimension is really really good, exciting and interesting and interesting for me and hopefully, worthwhile for the people involved.

So… I want to get an impression of what it’s like working in Gosforth civic theatre and for liberdade. How does it differ from other places in the community?

For me it’s the enthusiasm, it’s absolutely astonishing. I love coming, I really do. I walk in in the morning and I get lots of smiles and lots of hellos, from everybody. I get them from the people in the group, the Liberdade actors, and also from the people working here, in the café, the restaurant whatever. People are… it’s just fantastic it’s a really… I don’t know theirs something about the place it’s got a special vibe, which sounds very 1960s but it has, and the vibe is sort of from every body and I get a real buzz out of it and I get a very personal satisfaction, and hopefully by making a contribution there’s other things come from that but I got a lot of satisfaction myself which is, you know sounds quit selfish but somebody volunteering… you do it for altruistic reasons in some instances but you have to, don’t have to, but would like to get something out of it and I certainly get a lot out of it.

Liberdade obviously works with learning disabilities like autism have you had any experience with that?

No. I haven’t, and I don’t know… it’s obvious in some instances that some people have got down syndrome or some people I know are autistic in a particular way. But I don’t know the details of anybody at all, I just know what they present when I see them, present is a really arsey word, but anyway I know what I see and it’s fantastic. I really don’t how they’ve arrived at that position, whether they had something happened at at birth, I don’t know, and somehow it doesn’t make a difference, it really doesn’t. There are challenges for me because I haven’t worked with people with difficulties, one of the challenges is understanding sometimes what people say, sometimes the speech is difficult to hear, difficult for me to understand. And what I find astonishing is that I find it difficult to hear but the other people in the group don’t. So I can have somebody speaking and I’m struggling to understand, and its really up to me I think to hear better as much as anything because the other people can hear and they do understand, its not that they’re translating a foreign language, their just understanding what X or Y is saying when I don’t and I find that I have to listen, and I think that’s really good. Sometimes I make a leap of faith about what’s been said and you know and it works, mostly.

What difference has coming here made for you?

What’s made a difference is that knowing, well hoping that I’m making a contribution and being involved in something that I’ve effectively always been involved in. As a teacher I was involved in that sort of thing and I put on lots of shows, and I worked in the community theatre in Berwick upon Tweed and directed shows there. I’ve worked with schools in a wider sense. So yeah, I’ve been given the opportunity here by volunteering to do things that I’m really committed to. And I feel very strongly about community theatre in all sorts of forms. I don’t really see it happening in a way that I’d like too sometimes and in a sort of Joan Littlewood sort of way but you know….. But yeah, a big opportunity for me, and I think people getting involved is you know more than worthwhile, I know that sounds quiet sort of a bit of a platitude, but you know, I think it’s really important. And the people working here give so much back, they really do, you know it’s just brilliant.

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