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Interview with Emma Boulton Roe

Emma Boulton Roe

‘Shouting for 20 Years’ Interview with Judy Caine – 2nd Feb 2021


Judy Caine [00:00:01] We’re recording, OK, this is Judy Caine, I’m one of the researchers for the Shouting for 20 Years project. This afternoon, it’s Sunday, the 6th of December. I’m talking to Emma Boulton Roe who’s going to tell me about her involvement in Shout? So, we’ll make a start, that’s enough from me. I’m absolutely not the one anybody wants to hear from. Emma, first of all, just to kick off, if you can give me your name and your age.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:00:38] Yeah. So, I’m Emma Boulton Roe and I’m 41.


Judy Caine [00:00:47] Thank you.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:00:48] Big 40, laughs.


Judy Caine [00:00:50] Oh no, Life begins and all, and don’t I’m 58, I shall be 60 in 2 years, just don’t talk to me about age. I’m not going to transcribe that!


[00:00:59] OK. Easy question to start with, when and why did you first get involved with Youth Theatre?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:01:11] I was in the town centre. I think it was the school holidays with my friends and Paula, I bumped into Paula and she said, oh, I’m going to do this project and you should join in and bring some of your friends. I was like, OK, what is it? Well, I don’t really, I don’t really know yet, you know, but like a youth drama project and I’ll be at the Festival Hall and, you know, what else are you doing?


[00:01:40] So, and I was doing A-level theatre studies, so, yeah, I just kind of dragged along a bunch of my friends who were kind of a mixed bag of drama and musicians and, you know, different types and, and that was it. And we were all the older kids. So we ended up kind of directing and helping the younger kids kind of do stuff as well as big in the show. The very first one.


Judy Caine [00:02:12] How long did you stay involved with the group? Because I understand initially it was just like a summer project and then Paula carried it on. Did you just do it for the summer? Did you did you stay on for longer? What happened?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:02:23] Well, I went to university the next year, so I was away, and then, you know, it’s really difficult to think back that far, but I was kind of involved in it a little here and there, so I went on to the performing arts at university. And so, you know, I kind of sometimes I was remotely involved in her projects, I would help out when I came back to help them do workshops and, and things. So I kind of was involved at the start, and then I think I was in some of the early, the early ones before I went. And then, when I came back in 2006, I moved back from Newcastle to Corby and, yeah, and I just that was it. And I was helping direct and Pauls and I did lots of other different types of projects. I was involved with Corby Women’s Theatre Group and we ran Corby Zone together, and so we would, in fact, that’s why I moved back, was to do the Corby Zone project.


Judy Caine [00:03:27] Tell me about the Corby Zone project – what was the Corby Zone project?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:03:31] And, it was, well, there was a beautiful building, the manor house, it’s now Tresham, which is who I work for, so it’s still technically, yeah, yeah. But that building we had, oh gosh. So Paula would kind of call me up with ideas for different projects, and so I ended up travelling back, and I was working more here in Corby than it was where I was living, on creative projects. I think I was a makeup artist at the time in Newcastle, but I did costumes and different things like that. So she was like, oh, let’s do this project. And and then James Stevenson was involved now.


Judy Caine [00:04:16] He’s running Fermyn Woods now isn’t he?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:04:16] Yes.


Judy Caine [00:04:16] Isn’t he related?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:04:19] Yeah, he’s my cousin.


Judy Caine [00:04:21] Right.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:04:22] But so, yeah. Both of Paula’s sisters kind of produced us to help her I think. But yeah. So, he is more kind of visual and conceptual art stuff, and I was kind of textile arts and performance and we just ended up working on all these projects together and then Paula, she’d just say, oh, we’ll just write this bid, you know, it’s really easy, OK? And then she’d send us sections. You fill out this question and you answer that. So kind of ended up collaborating on all these different projects. And then I realised I was working with Paula more than I was creatively working in Newcastle. And it was one of those moments where it’s like should I stay here? Or and I never thought I would come back to Corby ever. I just, you know, the steelworks closed the year I was born and then everything declined. So as I grew up, everything closed down and, you know, there wasn’t anything there wasn’t a cinema. You couldn’t get a bus after six o’clock. There was nothing to do. I mean, there always have been community projects they’ve always been there. But there wasn’t anything really for us. And the idea that I could get a job that, I have upset people by saying this before, but I didn’t want to work in a factory. I wanted to be creative. And I went to university and graduate employment was really low in Corby I think still is really, it’s always had that brain drain thing, and I just did that isn’t what I wanted. And that’s you know, I’m not saying that’s not what other people should do, just that it’s not for me. So I never thought I’d come home. But then, yeah, Paula, had, had kind of cottoned on to this building and decided that maybe we could rent it. We could do a bid. This is her idea we’ll just do a bit for loads of money. We can rent this, we can rent the manor house and we can have it as a kind of experimental arts centre. So we would have like a theatre lab in there. We would have an art gallery and a cafe. And the cafe was going to bring in loads of money. And yeah, we’d have all these different things. We’d have artist studios because of all the rooms and the attics as well. And I got very excited about that. And then, yeah, James moved home from Manchester and I moved home from Newcastle. Yeah. To set up. So we just set up as a company and we went and there’s another woman, Marian Anderson. She’s made, made.


Judy Caine [00:06:52] Ah, Made With Many.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:06:53] Yes. Yeah. So, well, I mean it really started on to other things. So yeah. She just, we went to Newton Field Centre because you could, I don’t know if you still can, but you could hire, you could hire out and stay there. And we had this weekend and somebody came and we set up formally as a company and I was like, OK, I’m a company director. And we were like, oh, we’ll just do an Arts Council bid. And it was very weird. And then we we held like an artist swaray, we’ve got lots of different people kinda to do this networking. We had, we did that for a long time, networking artist events and just a centre kind of arts projects whichever, performing arts or visual arts or whatever they were in the town and kind of, you know. well, let’s get this culture that we have everywhere else, that we experience everywhere else, why can’t we have it here? So, yeah, that’s why I moved back in 2006 and then lots of the projects we did kind of overlapped. So there was just constant funding bids going on. In the end, what happened to the the manor house is that the council had cut down the trees, oh, so the person who owned it died and then his children wanted to sell it off. And then we asked the council to buy it so we could use it as a community thing we’ll do this arts centre. and they were like no, that’s too much money. It was like eight hundred thousand pounds.


[00:08:19] So Marion and I, Marion and I went to see Alfie Buller from BeBe Developments. Is this that thing where they have to give a certain percentage of money back to the community? So we went and had this meeting with him, and he agreed that he would buy this, that he would buy us the manor house so we could use it.


Judy Caine [00:08:39] Did he follow through.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:08:40] Well, then the council found out and they were like, well, no, he’s not buying it. So then they said they would buy it. So they had bought it. And then we got money to do, to have a feasibility study done. And there was all a business plan and everything, but it relied very much on the the Corby walk from the train station past the manor house through to the town and the football and the cafe. And then there’s just a series of unfortunate events. The council chopped down the trees that surrounded it. So it became an arson alert, a number 1 arson alert  building in the town, according to the fire brigade because there was no natural security. Then they said we would have to pay to put up a security fence, which, yeah, which was like fifty thousand pound, which wasn’t, that wasn’t going to work. And then the, yeah, it was kind of a depression looming, and then the Olympics. So the Olympics all the money started being diverted really early, so it kind of like, you know, and then the prices of oil and gas went up and so costs went up and it just suddenly was we just couldn’t do it and the Corby walk fell through and so in the end we had to just give the building back.


Judy Caine [00:09:52] So what year was that?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:09:54] 2007 or 8. Eight maybe.


Judy Caine [00:09:58] Right, so it was a couple of years, to, because I moved to Corby in 2006 and I hadn’t even I didn’t even hear the Corby Zone.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:10:04] Yeah. So we were, yeah. So 2006, we kind of were about four years. We kind of did stuff. But, so the manor house fell through and that was upsetting. But we did so many other things that didn’t really matter that we had, we didn’t have a base. So we done quite a lot of funding for different projects. And yeah, so lots of the projects were kind of combined, you know to get match, match funding and, yeah, you know, two streams of income. So when we did Women of Steel and then Shout were involved in that. So they kind of you know, they had their own separate part of that and the kind of funding streams helped with that. But yeah, so I did, I did. I helped Paula out weekly and then covered her when she wasn’t there. And then we did different projects like Square About erm.


Judy Caine [00:10:53] OK, can I just tell you back one minute, you mentioned Women of Steel. I understand you wrote three monologues in the middle of that. How did that come about?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:11:05] It was kind of it was well, it was that middle section because we had the older women. It was a really interesting experience for me because I had a lot of experience of working with the young ones and kind of how they were, you know, controlling their behaviour, like behaviour and kind of focussing them down and kind of pulling out stuff from them. But I’d never worked with older women before ever. And I think I was I was in my late, mid to late 20s at the time. And and I just couldn’t it took me ages. Paula laughs about it now. It took me ages, because I was helping her direct, that was part of my role, and yes. So we had this older women, kind of all of those stories, and we had the young people’s stories and there was a bit in the middle of the people my age that was missing. So, yeah, so I kind of put my tuppence worth in there. My little brother wrote some of the, he wrote something for the Shout bit as well. So three of us in there.


Judy Caine [00:12:07] So do you consider you had one specific role we shout, or did you just do whatever was needed whenever it was, and just got on with it?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:12:16] Yeah, I’m not you know, Paula is a woman of many talents, many hats, but I do take after her in that way that I can’t do one thing I have to, you know, I want to do it all. So it would be costumes and it would be writing something and directing and, and then if somebody would dop out or be ill and I’d have to be in it, even though I said I didn’t want to be in it.


Judy Caine [00:12:39] You’ve definitely got her enthusiasm. An absolutely. Definite there.


[00:12:44] Yes.


Judy Caine [00:12:46] How, when you were, before you went to university and you were helping Paula with the summer project and then you came back and then you stayed, how, and you’ve sort of answered this in a way, but,  do you consider Shout to have affected your life a little, a lot? Is it as a result of shout, is it why you went into the performing arts? Were you going to do that anyway? How has Shout affected your life, is the question.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:13:13] Yeah. So, I was already on that path. I had erm, well, I had a very creative upbringing. Mum was creating things, musicals, erm, you know, is very similar in some way. I’m kind of very similar to both Paula and my mother. And yeah, we lived, Paula lived with us for a long time whenI was a child, so there was just always dancing and, you know, singing and stuff creating going on. And my Mum, so, so she’s the one that taught me how to sew and the costume bits of it. So I loved all of that anyway. And I did used to go to Paula’s dance, Paula Boulton’s School of Performing Arts when I was little. So she’d been doing it forever. Yeah. And erm.


Judy Caine [00:14:04] Now that’s interesting, I didn’t even know there was a Paula Boulton School of Performing Arts.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:14:07] Oh yeah, I remember a very stunning tap dance to the sunny side of the street where we had big bows made out of brightly coloured netting and they kept falling down.


Judy Caine [00:14:20] I hope you wore something else apart from big bows in brightly coloured netting?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:14:25] Yeah, yeah, leotards.


Judy Caine [00:14:29] I’d put nothing past Paula!


Emma Boulton Roe [00:14:30] We used to do that up at the Danesholme centre.


Judy Caine [00:14:33] Oh yes, at the community centre.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:14:35] Yeah. So, and in fact she did an after school drama club that she didn’t have time to do anymore and then I took over that as well,and that was at Danesholme, so that was one of the things I did. I’ve done lots of stuff up there, dance, salsa and things, anyway. So, I was already, I was on that path. I just, you know, I was doing theatre studies at A level. I did, I worked at Kingswood.


Judy Caine [00:15:01] Was there a connection between Kingswood and Frantic Assembly?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:15:05] Yes,.


Judy Caine [00:15:05] Can you tell me about that connection?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:15:08] Oh, so Scott Graham went to Kingwood and then.


Judy Caine [00:15:13] Who is Scott Graham?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:15:13] He is, he’s the artistic director and one of the founding members so it was him and Steve Hoggett, Steven Hoggett, they were at university together. So he’d, Sali was his drum teacher and he gone off, I think he did English or something at university, he’s from Corby. And then came back to the school to to do, he did a year of being an English teacher and then, then him and Scott set up a company. So then he just used to come in and try stuff out on us. So when I was fourteen, in ’94, so they were very new company. They came in and we did an enterprise week at the end, towards the end of the year, in year 9?


Judy Caine [00:15:54] Whenever, when you were 14.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:16:00] Whenever, yeah, that year, you had to set up, it was you set up a business as a group and you had a week to to do something. So some people it was a newspaper, some people made things, and I was in the theatre company. And yeah, Scott and Steve of new Frantic came and worked with us for a week and we put together a play in that week. And that was my moment, that was my this is what I’m going to do because we did everything. I remember being on the phone to some some factory trying to blag a free fan like a big, massive fan. And we got a sofa from a tip. And we were, you know, we did, we wrote it and we were in it and we choreographed it. And I’m a dancer, you know, by nature and erm physical theatre, it just blew my mind and that was my moment. So, this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to go to university, I’m going to end up in Frantic. I’m going to work with Frantic which, which didn’t happen. Actually, I had a crash at university and messed up my back and I can’t, that ruined that plan. So I’ve never been able to do, perform in the way that I professionally, like I wanted to, but yeah.


Judy Caine [00:17:17] Sounds traumatic to say the least?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:17:20] Yeah, yeah, it’s OK. I’ve got some counselling about that (laughs). But it was like having your dreams snatched away, you know, but it did lead me to do other stuff. So I did the make-up side of things. So I teach production arts now as well. So the special effects makeup stuff. So yeah, the costume and make-up side of things happened at university because I couldn’t do a lot of the stuff I was supposed to be doing on my course because my back. So I ended up doing other things and writing. So I just took loads of different options and that was actually great because it led to a lot of opportunities.


[00:17:57] So, yeah, working with, so I already had that and I’m very physical, so my work is always, has been greatly affected by that, but also then greatly affected by Shout and the the kind of issue facing of it. You know, my work is always, anything I direct has always got a political element. I think that’s, you know, there is no way of getting away from politics and it’s not shoved down your throat, it is, but it is it always has a political element and it’s often very physical. But, I mean, one of the things that happened with Shout was that you, because he didn’t know who was going to be there or what skills they had, that you would pull out those skills from people and kind of try to embed what they could do, what they wanted or their ideas into it and that kind of real collaborative process. So, and I still do that now as a teacher, I will always do, you know, I will kind of, yes I’m the director and I have the final say, and it might be my vision, but there’ll always be something where I will ask the students. I want them to come to understand how to create their own work. And, you know, so it’s yeah, it’s a mixture of those two types of things, I think.


Judy Caine [00:19:18] So have you taken directly from Shout? I understand you used to have a circle and then you’d go off and you do sort of practise things and you’d work on things and you’d come and share at the end. Have you taken any of that from Shout into your current work or have you just you just, totally different from that?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:19:36] Well, I mean, at the moment it’s a stand on a cross and don’t don’t turn around, awful [reference to the COVID restrictions],but yeah, I mean, that is often that is kind of the way that a performing arts class would work anyway. You know, you start the begining.


Judy Caine [00:19:51] OK so that wasn’t unique to Shout that circle thing and then go off into, I’m not, I don’t have a drama, background – I’m music and dance. So I’ve never done that.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:19:59] No, no, that’s quite, it’s quite common that there’s a coming together at the beginning. And that’s I mean, in terms of the lesson, you set out the objective at the beginning and then might be little starter tasks to make people think. And so that’s kind of, that is what Paula was doing, but not necessarily knowing that that was what she was doing. You know, I will know, you know do a plenary, you know, it wasn’t like that. But, yeah, so but I do, I do that erm to kind of I don’t know, start of the day you all come together, erm a bit of a kind of what, what are their expectations? What are my expectations? How do we think you could achieve the thing for the day and warm up together, and then, and then the Frantic element comes in with the kind of play and trust building and then, yeah, off doing their stuff. But yeah, always come back together at the end and share, and learning to give feedback and take feedback. That’s a huge part of things for young people, but theatre that, well you’ll know, musicians and dancers as well, you have to, you have to learn to take that criticism and that with, that was probably the biggest influence, I think, that Shout and Paula had on me, because I yeah, I.


Judy Caine [00:21:19] What, learning to take feedback?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:21:22] Yeah, I think was a young thing as well. That kind of arrogance of, of youth when you kind of you think you’ve got the best ideas and, you know, in your head and this is how it should work. And if it doesn’t work, well its the other person’s faults? And, and actually especially when we were working with Corby Women Theatre Group, and I would be like, tearing my hair out, like told, I told them what to do and they haven’t done it, you now. Or, they’ve come back and they’ve forgotten and they’re just having a chat about things and having a cup of tea and like, woah, you know, she [Paula] would be laughing. You need to change. You need to understand the women that you’re working with. That’s not how they work. That isn’t what goes on. There’s a whole load of other things going on. And I didn’t have a clue about, you know, menopausal brains or the fact that they were there because it was for a connection and not necessarily because they wanted to be in the theatre. You know.


Judy Caine [00:22:13] What did the young people get out of it Emma, the young people in Shout. What do you think they got out of it? What do you think? I mean, you, what made them keep coming back?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:22:23] I think that there is a good level of kind of mutual respect, there actually, that they were heard, which young people are not heard. They were, the boundaries were quite loose, so they could get away with quite a lot, you know. If you walk into a Shout rehearsal, it looks like utter chaos, its the same as my classroom now, you walk into my class and go what is going on? But it’s managed chaos. And Paula came into a one-hour session I was doing, but yes, Paula came into a session I was doing and we laugh about it all the time, and she just walked in and I’m going, what’s happening over here, is that reindeer dead, just like, you know. But they, they’ve got to have a bit of kind of managed chaos, complete creative expression to have conversations about things that matter to them, to have their views heard. And that goes back, that goes back for me when we, when I was young and Paula moved in to my mum’s house and it kind of became a bit of a commune. So, kind of an accidental commune where, because Paula had travelled a lot, then all these people would turn up. And they’d all, you know, we would have house meetings and everybody had a voice, including me, you know, and I’m 4 and I get an equal say and I would be heard, which made me quite a difficult student, I think, because I didn’t understand why my opinion, you know, I wasn’t a sit there and shut up and do as you’re told child. I was well, my opinion is just as valid.


Judy Caine [00:24:02] I bet teachers loved you.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:24:04] Well, they did, but now I think about what I would be like teaching me. And sometimes you do just need people to just say, OK, just shut up and do the task.


Judy Caine [00:24:16] Did you from Shout, when you went, when you went away and you came back, did you end up teaching any of the younger members of Shout that you’d worked with in Shout or are you now teaching any of their kids? And how does that make you feel?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:24:28] Old, yeah, I have. I have not, I haven’t had any of that kids yet, but erm yeah, there was some like real kind of baby members come through. Carl Ashworth, he was one that kind of, I ended up teaching.


Judy Caine [00:24:47] Now he’s somebody, apperently he’s become a nurse now because I’m supposed to be interviewing him. But is he must be doing wacky shifts because I can’t get hold of him at the moment.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:24:55] Oh gosh a nurse?


Judy Caine [00:24:58] Hmm, apparently.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:24:58] Oh, I put, I suppose, he was doing kind of camp stuff, wasn’t he, like holiday camp entertainment stuff?


Judy Caine [00:25:07] I don’t know, I couldn’t tell you.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:25:08] Thats kinda dance isn’t it?


Judy Caine [00:25:11] Well, when I interviewed him I’ll ask him.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:25:14] So, yes, he knows me as Emma Shout and also Emma Tresham, but I’ve been there for 12 years.


Judy Caine [00:25:23] Wow, long time.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:25:23] So, yeah, it does make me feel old.


Judy Caine [00:25:25] We must hook up actuall because for my Corby Big Film Week I’ve never managed to get anyone in Tresham interested and I’ve had the make up artist from Harry Potter, from Spectre there, I’ve had cameramen, soundmen, script writer, we’ve done workshops and I’ve always gone through the media guys at Kettering. Guy,


Emma Boulton Roe [00:25:46] Paul, Guy Newton, he’s left.


Judy Caine [00:25:48] Right. OK, Paul erm.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:25:50] Paul Franklin.


Judy Caine [00:25:51] Thank you.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:25:52] Don’t transcribe this bit … but Paul he’s …


Judy Caine [00:25:53] Tell me later when I’ve turned this off if you like?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:25:53] Yes, but there’s a really good person in that team that I can put you in touch with, a real ‘yes’ person.


Judy Caine [00:26:06] Perfect, but I shall come straight to you as well for some of the drama bits.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:26:09] Yeah.


Judy Caine [00:26:09]  Because next year is the next Corby Big Film week but we’ll talk about that outside of this.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:26:13] OK, yeah,.


Judy Caine [00:26:14] Lets get back on track here. So going back to Shout, obviously it must have changed a lot from when it started in ’98, when you first went, you came back, you had to go with Corby Zone, which unfortunately didn’t quite work, but Shout kept going right up into twenty eighteen. So a couple of years ago. How did it develop? Did it retain the same ethos or did it move with the times?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:26:44] Well, it was similar. I mean unfortunately the busier I got, because I started at Tresham in 2009, so the busier I got with that, and I was part time at first and I was trying to do other things that was still working with Paula, and I’m still doing different projects and, but they are so time consuming. So, it was quite difficult to have my head on, you know, both of those things. So, sometimes I would be involved, but it was a much less kind of involved capacity. So, maybe I’d write something or I would proofread for her or come in and do a workshop. Like smaller, more manageable things, because I just didn’t have the time to give it any more. So then also, her coming and trying and stuff out with our students. They brough the Shout about Stroke, play in and did it for our students.


Judy Caine [00:27:34] That was the last one wasn’t it I think – Shout about Stroke?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:27:37] Yeah, it kind of, it did change. And at one point I think she wasn’t going to do it anymore, and then, because it was quite a petered out a little bit and then it kind of came back and then, they then, they just made it instead of Shout Youth Theatre, it just became Shout and they involved kind of different intergenerational things. So, yeah, it did.


Judy Caine [00:27:56] Which play did that? Was that Women of Steel, that was the start of the just Shout because that had quite a broad range range in didn’t it?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:28:04] Erm, well they were still two distinct, they were distinct theatre groups with Shout Youth Theatre and Corby Women’s Theatre Group.


Judy Caine [00:28:14] Oh, OK.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:28:15] Yeah. So it was kind of a joint project. But but they were, they were separate groups with separate aims and committees and stuff. But, but I think that that maybe was the beginning of oh intergenerational work.


Judy Caine [00:28:30] So what year are we talking now Emma?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:28:33] Well Women of Steel went on for years (laughs). The very first one was at East Carlton Park and I think that was 2007, in the summer of 2007. And then, we read it again at The Arc, because not enough people, everybody was disappointed that they hadn’t seen it, so they wanted to do it again. So, we re-directed it.


Judy Caine [00:28:55] For people who don’t know where The Arc is that’s up at Rockingham Primary School, isn’t it?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:29:00] Yes, the theatre attached to there.  It’s great, it’s a great space in there. So, yeah, we, we re-directed it because at East Carlton Park it had been a promenade performance and there was a band involved and, you know, we used the Heritage Centre, the different scenes. So, the audience walked around and saw different scenes in a different order depending on, you know, where they started. So everybody had to do their scenes over and over again. And then there was the big, the demonstration, you know, and Maggie Thatcher blowing up the Corby candle, which was a dramatisation, Paula, as Maggie Thatcher.


Judy Caine [00:29:40] I’ve heard to do her maggie Thatcher.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:29:44] Was very scary. Yeah, yeah. We had somebody in, you know, in black clothes inside a chimney kind of being the candle as it, there was a full demonstration outside. And then and then the second half was in a marquee on the other side near the the house, near the big house. One night we were competing with, they were having a house, a garden party and somebody, well, there was a monologue about an abusive father and how this, you know, as a young girl, she’d been roaming the streets in her nighty in her bare feet. And it was like really, really dramatic. And then you’ve got coming through the marquee, really bad karaoke (sings) ‘Stand by your man …’ (laughs) it couldn’t have been a worse, yeah, but anyway, it was a brilliant experience. That was a brilliant experience, but manic so yeah. It kind of got like, how do we, how do we take that experience and then recreate it in the theatre. But the Shout lot had done the stuff in the marquee so. Yeah. So we did, we, re-did it the next year then in The Arc Theatre and then everybody wanted it, so well film it. So then we had to re-direct it for film. Yeah, and then it was a book, the play script, and then Marian and I did a photographic exhibition at the Willows Art Centre before that closed as well. So, there were so many different strands of that project. They just carried on and carried on. And yeah, it was it was great, though.


Judy Caine [00:31:25] Sounds like I’ll be talking to Marian as well. I had no idea Mariane was so involved.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:31:31] Yeah. I mean, she didn’t, she didn’t really do anything with Shout, but the projects that were collaborative. Yeah.


Judy Caine [00:31:38] OK, now that, that makes sense. That’s why I haven’t come across her then.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:31:41] Yeah yeah.


Judy Caine [00:31:42] So, what do you think, did Shout have an impact on Corby?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:31:46] I think so, I think that. You know, on the on a macro level, you’ve got you had kids who were potentially in danger of getting sucked into the wrong crowd or, you know, wandering around the streets with nothing to do and lots of kind of issues, you tend to get that with theatre people anyway. I affectionately call us ‘Freaks, Geeks and Uniques’, but there are high percentages of Asperger’s and ADHD and dyslexia and and autism and mental health issues. So, it’s huge and like, you know, because I see it’s very weird, my role at Tresham, because I’ve been doing that with nearly 13 years and they stay the same age and move on, and I get older every year. And, you know, now I’m the same age as all their mums. But, yeah, it’s a pain. Yeah, but it’s exactly the same there. You see this little kind of the percentages of the students who have, you know, and we work in a big arts department, so I see the types of students everybody else has compared to the types of students we have. But it was reflected in Shout as well. It’s that, erm,  lots of issues.


[00:33:14] And so giving those kids somewhere to be and some structure and the ability to, what Paula does really well is she always wants to hear the other side. So she doesn’t argue. I think people struggle with that sometimes, she doesn’t argue and she doesn’t get emotionally involved. She will clearly argue, no, debate the other side or want to know why you think something. So, because she wants to understand where do people come from, what they’re thinking about something. So then then she knows if she doesn’t agree with that, then she can kind of counter it from a different angle and it’s more productive. So there’s a whole kind of conflict resolution and learning to communicate effectively, being able to question which young people can’t do, you know, being able to to understand that if somebody asks you a question, the answer could be ‘no’, or ‘I don’t want to talk about it’ or it could be, yep, you know, let’s do this or that. It’s kind of nuanced. So I think that they learnt by example and by practise to communicate more effectively to see the world from other people’s shoes, which drama does anyway, but issue based definitely, definitely does. So will have changed their opinions? And at the start of every project, there were always people with strong opinions about things.


[00:34:38] Lee, for example, Lee and Pauls, you know, are opposite ends of the spectrum.


Judy Caine [00:34:45] You’re not going to tell me about the ‘bi’ story are you?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:34:50] (Laughs) No, but yeah, they have, you know, very strong opinions about things. But even so, even, even with that, that there was space in that for, you know, because it’s reflective of the world that we live in, that there were all of these different types of people with different types of opinions. And some of those are kind of subconscious bias, unconscious biases. You don’t even realise that you hold opinions that maybe other people see is offensive or closed minded or whatever, but and also vice versa. You know, that actually if somebody holds an opinion that’s different from yours, doesn’t make them a bad person, it just means that they have a different life experience. So you’ve got all of the kids that went through that programme you heard who had a chance to express themselves creatively, you had a structure and who learnt to understand each other and that the world was full of different people, different opinions. And that was OK.


Judy Caine [00:35:47] Yeah, you must be really, really proud of what you did with Shout, actually, because the more I learn about it, the more I think, my God, this is amazing.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:35:55] At the time. At the time, you just, you know, what am I doing? This is like a bonkers play. And you just desperately trying to get it to a point where it’s OK for people to come in and watch, you know, but then afterwards, yeah, when you sit back and reflect and Paula has been digitising, having shows digitised and sending me clips of things and some of them I can’t even remember doing, like no clue. No, no recollection at all, and then, yeah, she’ll send me these videos.


Judy Caine [00:36:23] Wow, what do you think about the current project, Shouting for 20 Years?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:36:30] Erm, I think it’s really important.


Judy Caine [00:36:33] Why?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:36:33] Because I think that nothing has changed for those kids. I think that the kids in Corby now are the same as they ever have been and that they, I think that if it was still going, the, the same issues would still be coming up. Things have moved slightly, but on the whole, the things that they wanted to shout about weren’t being heard about before are the same things now.


Judy Caine [00:36:58] Ah, that’s interesting because several people have said Shout wouldn’t work now!


Emma Boulton Roe [00:37:02] Oh!


Judy Caine [00:37:03] T,hey said you wouldn’t get kids to Shout now, because of social media; they don’t need to meet every week to talk to each other because of social media. What’s your take on that?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:37:12] No, absolutely not. No, on social media, you’re shouting into a void of people who think and feel exactly the same as you. And it’s not for, there’s nothing to be gained from that, nothing real to come back from a ‘like’ or a ‘share’ or, you know, it’s not real life. It’s not how they really feel. You don’t learn from it. There’s no collaboration, there’s no understanding, there’s no discussion. It’s just people, you know, wearing a badge that says, I feel this and other people go, ‘yes’, you know, and that’s not, that’s not the same thing. But we, you know, I see elements of Shout in my class every day, you know, and they do learn to see things from other people’s perspective anyway. That’s just what theatre is about – you know, you’re stepping into the shoes of a character that isn’t you, that doesn’t hold the same beliefs, who hasn’t had the same upbringing as you. But we do a lot of device work because that’s the kind of the aim of the course that I run. The acting course especially is to develop theatre makers. So it’s, you know, they’re not just trying to audition and that’s it. Like that they can, they can create their own work and they can understand how, I don’t know, how to work with people and whether they go into role play in conflict resolution or what, you know, whatever they do. So, I see that, I see it all the time and they don’t understand how to communicate. That’s got worse. So it’s needed now more than ever. And if you give them a chance to do it, they’re crying out for human interaction and real connection. And, you know, it doesn’t take, I’m not, I’m not brainwashing these young people. It doesn’t take me long. You know, I’ll question something, and then they’re like, oh? Oh, yeah. You know, instantly.


Judy Caine [00:39:06] We’re back to what you said earlier. A lot of young people don’t feel heard. A lot of adults, teachers, parents, whoever.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:39:14] Yeah.


Judy Caine [00:39:16] Don’t say, so what do you think about that?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:39:17] Yeah.


Judy Caine [00:39:18] So they never get a chance to say. Well actually I think it’s really good because or whatever it is, and they’re almost scared to say anything because they’ve not done it. So yeah, I’m with you on that one.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:39:30] Yeah and they also get down an awful lot, you know. Oh, young people today have got it easy, blah, blah, blah, but they do not have easy. It is much worse, much, much worse. And like OK so we might say, well, they’ve all got good clothes and all, well not all, but you know, kids today they’ve got mobile phones and they’ve got this and that, we never have that. And, but they, they have more pressure, more unrealistic expectations, more kind of pressure on their mental health and their well-being. They spend less time outdoors. They, erm, they are more isolated than we ever were, and and I would not want to be a child like now. Also, every single thing is recorded. And I,  actually, I’m a bit of a hypocrite here because I do use social media and I can lose many an hour scrolling through Instagram or whatever, but we also use it for promotional stuff for projects and courses, and it works really well for that. But sometimes you just scroll and you don’t know why. But I don’t use filters and I don’t judge myself against any of that stuff. But I am emotionally resilient because I was taught to be and I was taught how to deal with things, and I was taught not to judge myself against other people and compare myself to other people. But even if even if you tried to teach young people that today they are so bombarded by it, and they are so malleable and easily affected that it’s really harmful, is really harmful.


[00:41:13] So, yeah, I, and there’s no room for mistakes as well. This kind of a bit of a cancel culture thing that happens. Yes, yes, we shouldn’t give platforms to Nazis to spout conspiracy theory and hate and all of that stuff. But there’s a weird thing that’s happening where, you know, maybe somebody put something on Twitter when they were younger that is now seen to be not OK. And then that person’s life is over because, because of something that, like, well young people do stupid things. And then you learn, it happens, and then you go, oh, that was a very nice and you learnt about it and then you don’t do that again.


Judy Caine [00:41:54] Totally, if they have a safe space to make the mistakes in that Shout clearly was.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:41:58] Absolutely was.


Judy Caine [00:41:59] How would you learn?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:42:00] That was always a safe, a safe space to discuss how you felt about something, whatever that was, and not to say what you think everybody wanted you to say because you’d be judged by it. But to be able to ask questions, to really ask questions and you can’t understand something, it’s no good telling everybody you have to think this and you have to say this. And I, gosh, this just it makes me sound awful, but hashtag ‘be kind’ – it is just, it just does my head in. Because,  people aren’t, people are not kind. But you can’t just say, oh, ‘be kind’,  like no question. Question and understand and experience each other and connect and yes, don’t be mean, but, but just plastering that over everything, it shuts people down, at a time where they really, young people really need to be able to express themselves, they need to be able to question. That’s the whole point of education and growing up.


Judy Caine [00:43:01] Absolutely, and I think as well with that hashtag ‘be kind’ it’s to trite. People have lost, they’ve lost the ability to work out who they really are let their real selves come out, to be really congruent, and until people can do that, and feel comfortable doing that, how can they be comfortable in themselves? They can’t, and it’s just so sad. Sorry, bit of a bug-bear that from my, the youth club I run.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:43:26] There’s also this kind of like homogeny, this kind of globalised homogeny, as well, that comes from the likes of Tick-Tock and Instagram.


Judy Caine [00:43:35] Oh I hate that.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:43:36] Well, you know, we don’t, we’ve never had ‘Prom’. Prom wasn’t a thing here, that’s, that’s an American thing. And now that’s a thing. And, you know, Proms the most, I mean, we had a rubbish disco at Kettering Cricket Club with, like, wrinkly sandwiches (laughs).


Judy Caine [00:43:51] You had sandwiches, ooooh!


Emma Boulton Roe [00:43:51] Yeah, I know, the disco, you know, and that was that. And it was for a couple of hours and nobody had to spend a load of money on a digger to arrive to a prom in, you know.


Judy Caine [00:44:05] No.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:44:05] There’s this, oh, I want I want this Instagram lifestyle, like they all live in massive houses because they’re American for a start and they build their houses and it’s cheaper to to build timber framed big houses than it is here. So, you’re never going to compare to that. You know, and it’s not just America. It’s it’s everywhere. But it’s such an odd, thing,.


Judy Caine [00:44:24]  Yes.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:44:25] Pressure to conform, but to the world. Yeah.


Judy Caine [00:44:30] Sorry, we digress, I’m pulling you back to shout again.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:44:32] Pull me back (laughs).


Judy Caine [00:44:34] Just 3 questions, because I, 3 final questions, really, I’m aware I said keep it to an hour and I’m going to go over that by about five minutes.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:44:42] That’s my fault!


Judy Caine [00:44:43] It’s not your fault at all. Do you have a favourite or, if not a favourite, a moment that really stands out in your mind from Shout? It’s fine if you don’t, but I’m just interested if you do.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:45:00] Gosh.


Judy Caine [00:45:00] And conversely, a worse one is question 2, think about both.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:45:11] Erm. Well I can’t really pinpoint any specific things. Always the worst bit was always just before a show, because not only do you have to ensure that they are not going to humiliate themselves in front of an audience that it’s of a good enough standard. Yes, it’s kids, it’s kids’ theatre but, Paula and myself, do not think that that should allow rubbish to be shown, you know. It has to be of a standard not like, oh, look, there’s my child doing something terrible. So that kind of utter panic and terror, and we were never ready, never enough time. So just before a show and the heightened kind of show stress, which actually is my favourite kind of stress.


Judy Caine [00:46:01] Yes, because when it’s finished, you get just,Yes!


Emma Boulton Roe [00:46:05] Yes, but then, yeah, afterwards, every time without fail, seeing them be so proud of themselves. And Paula always did a kind of audience de-brief. Always, you know, what’s your feedback? We’ve created this for you, what did you think? What did you learn from it? She always did that afterwards. And then then the kids really understood the impact that their work could have.


Judy Caine [00:46:26] So the kids were on stage when she did this?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:46:29] Ah um.


Judy Caine [00:46:29] I didn’t know that. That’s brilliant. That’s really good.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:46:31] And they could ask questions as well. And the audience could ask questions to the kids. Yeah. So, and they were, then were so kind of proud of themselves and that sense of accomplishment and the relief and the after the performance high as well. But just the, you know, I made an impact and they’ve heard me and then, they’re kind of the debrief afterwards is a very professional thing to do, isn’t it, an after show session, you know. And you have to kind of, oh the actors will answer questions now from the audience. And yes, I think those bits were my favourite, even though you were exhausted and you wanted to go home. But yeah, that kind of sense of pride and achievement, I think those would be my highs, my high moments.


[00:47:23] I mean, there were times where, I don’t know, they weren’t necessarily gelling with, there’d be somebody who wasn’t gelling with the topic or because we had kids with so many issues. I mean, not all of them, but like sometimes that was kind of difficult to manage. But there was, you always found a way to kind of, to get somebody on board with the kind of question, again, how do I talk to this person? How what’s going on? Where is this from? You know. So there were some.


Judy Caine [00:48:00] I think you had a big advantage over say a school in that the kids were at Shout beacause, from what I’ve gleaned, because they wanted to be. They weren’t there like at school, because you’ve got to be, it’s the law, they were at Shout because they wanted to be there, they enjoyed it, they got something out of it.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:48:12] Yep.


Judy Caine [00:48:12] So, you were already onto a winner there because, you know, they were there because they wanted to.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:48:17] Yeah, and there was kinda a bit of a youth club feel about it. You know, the beginning, the break time and at the end there was always kind of a very sociable thing. It was enjoyable and it was kind of a bit counselling as well, you know, and supportive so like part support group, part youth group and part drama training.


Judy Caine [00:48:43] Ideal, perfect. Right. My final question, is there anything I haven’t asked you about that you are burning to tell me about Shout and your experience in it?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:49:00] Erm. I don’t think so.


Judy Caine [00:49:04] We’ve covered a lot in the last hour.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:49:06] Yeah, sorry, I talk a lot.


Judy Caine [00:49:08] No, no, it’s fine. Makes my job easier I can just shut up and listen.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:49:11] Family trait (laughs).


Judy Caine [00:49:11] No, I had, I had pages of just in case she dries up …


Emma Boulton Roe [00:49:16] No, no fear of that. Erm, I did er, I think that it was often underestimated, Shout.


Judy Caine [00:49:26] In what way?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:49:26] Erm, I don’t know, by adults or, um, yeah, you know, we talked before about rubbish kind of kid stuff. I think people thought it was going to be like that or that they wouldn’t have the maturity to deal with the kind of themes.


Judy Caine [00:49:46] You did pick difficult topics didn’t you, you didn’t you didn’t take the easy way out, did you?


Emma Boulton Roe [00:49:51] Not at all. Yeah, and some, when like, when Paula and I talk about it now, some of the things that we looked at you think, you know, gosh. But they’re such heavy, such heavy issues, but, but needed. Like, you know, like the teenage pregnancy play was kind of rolled out a number of times over the years. But there was a point in time where we had the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe, in Europe, Corby, as well as depression, illiteracy, innumeracy, alcoholism. Yeah. You know, there were a lot of issues going on, actually. OK, well, let’s talk about it.


[00:50:31] But I think that sometimes certain adults, not the parents, but more kind of, you know, pillars of the community, maybe thought, erm, is this, is this going to be any good and were always, always completely bowled over by what they saw. And to give the community of Corby a sense of pride in their young people, that was really special.


Judy Caine [00:50:59] That’s really, really important, especially after the steelworks closed and everything, you know, oh, there’s nothing down for me now. You know, what am I going to do, dah, dah, dah, and then you give them that through drama, that confidence, that self-esteem, the ‘you can do anything’,  ‘believe in yourself’.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:51:17] Yeah.


Judy Caine [00:51:17] Well done you!


Emma Boulton Roe [00:51:18] (Laughs) Thank you.


Judy Caine [00:51:18] And well done on what you’re doing now, I mean, it sounds fantastic what you’re doing at Tresham.


Emma Boulton Roe [00:51:23] I love it.


Judy Caine [00:51:24] Thank you very much for your time this afternoon. It’s been, it’s been really, really fascinating talking to you, Emma. Thank you very much. Now, I’m going to turn this recording off, but don’t go away.


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