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May 7, 2014

White gold in the Sugar Sheds

Greenock has a rich industrial heritage although much of it only lingers in the memories of those old enough and in the empty factories and warehouses still standing and not yet developed into waterfront flats. The former sugar sheds are particularly iconic and Inverclyde Community Development Trust has been working hard to inject new life into them as a performance space.  Next month will see a major production – White Gold – involving 200 local volunteers working with professional artists which will delve into some of the untold stories of this community.


A cast of 200 volunteers will join a team of professional artists and performers to tell the untold stories of the people of Inverclyde through drama, movement, music and breathtaking aerial performance. As audiences walk through the performance, they will be immersed in the experience.

The multi-art form production from 4 to 7 June is an original creation conceived and overseen by Mark Murphy, directed by Simone Jenkinson and Joseph Traynor of Cuerda Producciones, Argentina. It is produced by arts organisation Iron Oxide, with All or Nothing Aerial Dance Theatre, Tigerstyle and the Beacon Arts Centre.

The Creative Team stated: “Our vision is to create a show that has the power to transform: to find the extraordinary in the everyday; to confound expectation of what a group of people with a united intention can achieve and in doing so get to the very heart of what makes these incredible communities of Inverclyde tick.”

Touching, personal stories have been gathered from across the area. Inverclyde Community Development Trust has worked closely with community groups and individuals to discover memories and anecdotes – old and new – that have in some way affected the lives of the storyteller. Echoing their past industrial use, the Sugar Sheds function as a store for stories and a refinery for their production, before the raw material is turned into White Gold.

Paul Bristow of Inverclyde Community Development Trust said: “Our team have collected lots of reminiscences and stories over the years, but this was something quite different, White Gold asked us to look at a series of ten questions, such as ‘who do you wish you’d told you loved?’, ‘which song means most to you and why?’ and ‘tell us the story of a door you wished you had never opened’ and our volunteers sat down with folk from all across the area to see where those conversations would take us.

“We’ve been amazed by the power of the stories and the generosity of those who have given them. We’ve genuinely had moments of people bursting into tears or laughing aloud, sharing their answers and experiences with us. Most people, perhaps because we were strangers, were only too happy to share and there were some really sad and beautiful stories in there. We’re really interested to see how they have been adapted and incorporated into the performance.”

Edinburgh’s All or Nothing have been running aerial workshops with groups in Inverclyde throughout the year. White Gold aims to develop a lasting legacy of aerial workshops and classes in Inverclyde at the Beacon Arts Centre. Jen Paterson, of All or Nothing, said “All or Nothing has been leading aerial workshops at the Beacon as a way of introducing one of the main art forms that will feature in White Gold into the Inverclyde area.  As well as free taster classes in aerial skills, a group of local volunteer cast will train up more intensively in aerial harness and flying so that they have the skills to perform aerial alongside professional artists in the production.

“It is really exciting to be working alongside Simone Jenkinson and Joseph Traynor of Argentina’s Cuerda Producciones, and to be showcasing some of the leading, most experienced aerial performers in the UK.”

DJs and musicians Tigerstyle have been working with school groups, asking them for their take on the questions, teaching them the fundamentals of digital music creation and using their responses to influence and create music which will inspire the show.

Pops of Tigerstyle, said: “We had a great time working with students from St Andrew’s and St Francis’s Primary Schools. The children told stories to each other, we played some word games and then they collectively wrote some lyrics using their wild imaginations. We then worked with them to put together sounds. Everyone is really looking forward to seeing how the music will fit into the show.”

There are various opportunities for volunteers to get involved with the community cast, learn aerial skills or work behind the scenes with the technical team. Anyone over 16 years of age can take part – no experience is necessary. Interested parties should email for further information.

White Gold is part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme.

Wednesday 4 June (preview): 6.30pm, FREE but ticketed.

Thursday 5 June and Friday 6 June: 6pm and 9pm, tickets £5 (£3 concessions)

Saturday 7 June: 3.30pm and 6.30pm, tickets £5 (£3 concessions)

Telephone: 01475 723723 / book online: