Emma Rucastle is a freelance theatre maker based in Lancaster. She helped to make Lancaster Fun Palace in 2014 and 2015. At her Fun Palace, she has made a geometric mosaic panel, tapped her feet to a ukulele orchestra and started to lose her fear of drawing.
Emma Rucastle is a freelance theatre maker based in Lancaster. She is the founder of ELART Productions (www.elartproductions.co.uk) and one of the co-founders of The Rose Company (www.rosecompanytheatre.com). She has directed productions in theatres, parks, churches, libraries and a castle and has run drama workshops in schools, community venues and a Young Offenders’ Institution. She helped to make Lancaster Fun Palace in 2014 and 2015. At her Fun Palace, she has made a geometric mosaic panel, tapped her feet to a ukulele orchestra and started to lose her fear of drawing.
Why it was important to you to make a Fun Palace?
Too often in today’s world, we are separate. Fun Palaces encourages creative connections and community, grassroots activism and this hugely appeals to me. I love the idea of a space where Arts and Sciences – in their broadest senses – live together, complimenting each other; where adults and children experiment and play, making new discoveries; where music, maths, computing, craft, graffiti art, gardening, juggling, jelly printing… and so much more… all co-exist, making a unique whole.
“Fun Palaces encourages creative connections and community, grassroots activism”
How has the process of making a Fun Palace challenged and surprised you?
At the start of the first year, the core making team comprised three freelancers and our biggest challenge by far was finding a space for our Fun Palace. We tried a number of places and spaces, but they were out of our price range – not surprising, given that we had no funding! It was also difficult to explain to possible venues exactly what our Fun Palace was going to be/involve, as we didn’t really know ourselves. (This can still be a problem at times, when “marketing” our Fun Palace, though it is getting easier year by year.) However, thankfully, it was suggested to us that we approach the fabulous team at Lancaster Library and, immediately, things started to fall into place. Libraries make great Fun Palaces! They are already inclusive community buildings, where people and subjects mix, and they are very keen to reach out to the locality. They have a wealth of knowledge – about useful people to contact, active community groups, local issues etc – which has been invaluable to us and, as Lancaster Library also has an active, helpful and enthusiastic Friends organisation, we really feel we have found our home.
Any advice for anyone wanting to be a Maker next year
Do it! Don’t be afraid of starting small – and don’t be afraid of not knowing what the end result will be. Our first year was small, but those who were involved had a great time and the Makers learned an enormous amount. Our second year was smoother and easier in many ways and we were delighted with the number of people who volunteered to be involved, running events etc, and with the number who came along and participated during the weekend. After a very quiet Sunday morning in year one, we shortened the Sunday opening hours of the Fun Palace in 2015, starting at mid-day, and this proved much more successful, though the later afternoon still petered out a bit – something we are looking at this year as we start scheduling. Essentially, it’s a continual learning curve, but, overall, so, so rewarding and …well…fun!