We are excited to be working with Ronnie Scott’s Charitable Foundation and the Royal National College for the Blind (RNC) Hereford to bring the Blind Bookworms Jazz Band to Hay in May 2018. Led by Ellie Wait, Sam Obigbesan and Rachel Starritt, all former students at the RNC. A huge thank you to Ronnie Scott’s Charitable Foundation for making this project possible.
Blind Bookworms Jazz Band
The Blind Bookworms Jazz Band is a project that brings together blind and visually impaired (VI) young people for an exciting group learning and performance experience focused on 1930s and 1940s jazz.
We are absolutely delighted that Ronnie Scott’s Charitable Foundation have awarded a grant of £4350 to bring this project to life.
Led by Ellie Wait, Sam Obigbesan, and Rachel Starritt, all former students at the Royal National College for the Blind (RNC), and supported by The Story of Books and RNC, the Blind Bookworms is a three-month project that involves:
- research and learning about 1930s and 1940s jazz
- creative input from professional experts
- rehearsals and recordings to be shared with a wide audience
- performance of live jazz as part of a multi-sensory theatrical experience
The project will culminate with live performances by the Blind Bookworms Jazz Band as part of UNICORNS, ALMOST – a new one-man show by Owen Sheers and directed by John Retallack, about the life and poetry of Keith Douglas, that premieres in Hay-on-Wye in May.
Ellie Wait (piano, saxophone, vocals), 26 years old, registered blind from birth:
‘As a needlessly competitive child, music was the only subject that I felt I had a playing field in. I couldn’t see enough to excel at sport, and reading the blackboard was difficult in lessons meaning I felt as though I was playing catch up with the other kids. Music – particularly improvisation which provoked my love of jazz and blues – was the only subject that was inherently accessible to those with a visual impairment, and I fell in love with it. Since then, my adoration of music has grown and now encompasses many art forms, but the seed of my creativity will always be rooted in music.’
Aims and purposes of the project:
- To offer blind and visually impaired young people with hands-on experience in planning and presenting live jazz performances to a diverse audience.
- To use jazz and live music to give blind and visually impaired young people a multi-sensory theatrical experience.
- To empower blind and visually impaired musicians through learning about the jazz of the 1930s and 1940s and to co-create a live performance.
- To break down barriers for young people with disabilities to access live music and theatre by involving them in the creative process, including the planning and the delivery.
The Blind Bookworms Jazz Band will perform live at special performances of UNICORNS, ALMOST. These performances will be on 25, 26, 27 May and 1,2 & 6 June at 5pm & 8pm. Find out more about the show, and buy your tickets here: www.unicornsalmost.com.