Monday, 10 March 2014

Thank you to St Peter's.

Old friends from St Peter's Church, Newlyn, the main company rehearse in their hall, recently asked me to write something for the church magazine.

They are also seeking to publicise their work within the community. They are an extraordinary group and I am so grateful to them and it was a pleasure to thank them openly.

A Big Thank You

I have often wanted to say `A big thank you” to St Peter’s Church
however “do not let your left hand know what your right hand’s doing” applied to some of our loyal supporters and they wouldn’t have thanked me for it.
May I now say, as I often do to others, that without St Peters loyal support and understanding (always given in a Christian way freely offered in our hour of need, we never asked for it ), we would not have survived!

So who are we?
We are now an inclusive arts charity celebrating, diversity, ability and community.
We were for the first fifteen years of our life a community group based at St Peter’s Hall. Our initial group came from members of Penzance Gateway club and soon other local artists joined us.
At various times we shared the hall with the Luncheon Club and made way for The Monday Art group. Intermittently we have also worked at and had support from The Acorn Theatre, Penzance but moved back to St Peter’s for access when someone who uses a wheelchair wanted to join us ( before The Acorn had physical access) and at other times. We have been back in St Peter’s now for approximately seven years and I love it. It is spacious and light, has a lovely floor and kitchen and we have always had a warm and understanding welcome.

So more about who we are: we are Shallal main company, an inclusive community dance theatre company with ages 13 to 83 at present. Some of us have worked together for over twenty years, some a few weeks. We have all sorts of people working with us: some are artists, some have severe health conditons, some need support with their lives and independence, we do not use labels in any of our publicity, so I will not here, we are people first and we love working together. We believe in the richness that variety and vulnerability can bring to our lives and we share our creative journey and support each other, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.

Marjorie and Zoe Wilton have been with us since the beginning. Shallal gave Zoe the platform to show the world some of her extraordinary creative talents, she is an amazing solo dancer but it never stops, described as a renaissance woman she is now exploring fashion, as we work with performance in the morning and different art forms in the afternoon.

We sometimes receive generous funding and travel and can perform wonderful shows, we sometimes nearly close from lack of funds.
As well as large shows and projects we continually receive invitations to perform: last year we were at New County Hall for three events.

We want to show what people have to offer, what they can give and a small example of inclusion and how society could be, with the right support.

For me personally to work in a building which is prayed in, which has Christian values and support is wonderful and makes coming to work even more of a joy. We are called to show / know each person is made in God’s image and likeness. The creative arts allow us to meet equally, the physical safety and simplicity of St Peter’s Hall helps that, we are all in one room together, we eat lunch together and we work together.

I would like to repeat a heartfelt “thank you” from the thirty members of the main company and their families and supporters, our trustees and friends to all at St Peter’s who have shown us such longstanding understanding and support.
We meet on Fridays in term time and pause for lunch between 12.40pm and 1.20pm. Do come and meet us say hallo and have a cup of tea.

Jo Willis

Who I am;
I am one of the founders and the Artistic director of Shallal.
I lived in Newlyn for sixteen years and St Peter’s Church was a second home for me. I was received into the Russian Orthodox church in 1988 but often worshipped on Sundays with St Peter’s as then our church only held services every two months. My husband and I were married in St Peter’s Church, in 1991 and we had four children. We lived with a view of the Mount, facing the sunrise, a continual blessing.
Our family moved to Falmouth ten years ago, as we had outgrown our Newlyn home and we now have five children. I am very happy to return to work in the Hall and to see old friends. Penwith is a special place for me and I often wonder if Shallal could have thrived and been understood as well elsewhere.

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