A writer’s celebration of a Shipley leisure facility will see actors take to the water to perform

Leap of faith for Emma’s play about Shipley Pool

Hannah Nicklin gets ready to jump off the board at Shipley pool

Hannah Nicklin looks over the edge of the high board at a ‘Leap of Fridays’ session at Shipley Pool

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Leisure and Lifestyle Editor

A play celebrating Shipley Swimming Pool, and the stories of people who have used it over the years, is to be performed in the water.

Northern Big Board is the brainchild of Shipley writer Emma Adams, who grew up near the pool and was terrified of the five metre high diving board.

When she was in her 30s she finally jumped off the board, inspiring her to develop a project bringing together artists and arts organisations to celebrate Shipley Pool and those who swim there.

The project, in collaboration with Chol Theatre, Slung Low and digital artist Hannah Nicklin, draws on personal stories about the pool.

It brings Emma back to the pool where she learned to swim. She is attempting to conquer her fear of the ‘Big Board’ by creating a performance written especially about and for Shipley Pool.

Emma and Hannah will be in residence at the pool for a series of ‘Leap Off Fridays’ giving the public chance to share their stories and jump off the diving board. The sessions, running until November 9, include workshops and informal art and writing sessions during the day, followed by drop-in visits between 6pm and 7.30pm.

A special Big Board Amnesty will take place on Friday, October 26, from 8am to 9am, when diving instructors will help people face their fears and learn how to leap off the big board.

The weekly sessions will see the artists preparing for a gala performance, featuring a performance in the pool, swimming demonstrations and family activities on November 18. The play will be performed by actors in the pool, heard on headphones by the audience watching from the spectators gallery.

It will be directed by Slung Low, which specialises in staging productions in unusual spaces not traditionally associated with theatre.

Emma writes for theatre spaces and unusual places. Her previous works have been performed in a house and a bed.

Susan Burns, artistic director of Chol Theatre said: “Northern Big Board offers a chance to conquer your fears of the unknown and take a leap of hope, in celebration of swimming pools like Shipley and the people who swim there.

“It’s the first time a play has been written for and performed in the pool, and will offer regular pool-users a very different experience of a place they are familiar with.”

l Anyone interested in taking part in ‘Leap Off Fridays’ is asked to call Rebecca Legg on (01484) 536008 or e-mail rebeccca@choltheatre.co.uk.

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