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Pioneering Theatre, Music and Community Arts

 In Wolverhampton from 1980 to 2013


1982 - 2013

Zip Theatre gratefully

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The Wolverhampton Mystery Cycle

Being part of the Community

This would be a new type of Mystery Cycle:

Three years later and I am at screaming pitch, tearing my hair out and wondering whatever possessed us to get involved in the first place. Then I watch as the people start to arrive for rehearsals: young and old, black and white, people from all walks of life and I know what possessed us - faith in people and the desire to create something unique in celebration of our city's diversity.

It has not been an easy passage from idea to execution. When Zip was approached to co-ordinate and direct this event, we were a small, tightly knit team with an already busy work schedule which survived by raising funds from project to project. A steering committee was formed and we started to take a long, hard look at how we could make The Wolverhampton Mystery Cycle happen. That there was enormous potential for development in the staging of the event was undeniable, how to realise it was a problem.

We needed people and we needed money. People to get out and about encouraging other people to join in, people to cope with the extra burden of administration a large project creates, people to learn new skills and pass them on to others, people to take part in the play, people to build the set. And, most important of all, we needed people to inspire us, the professionals, in the creation of this unique happening.

Spotlight on Mystery Cycle Administration

by Cathy Pemberton (written in June 2001)

Zip Theatre is an independent community theatre, which has worked within the Wolverhampton community for over 20 years. A great bonus of our work is that it brings us into contact with people from all parts of the city, of all ages and backgrounds.

At a community meeting one day, the subject of creating a Mystery Cyclefor Wolverhampton arose. I felt my skin prickle as the possibilities became apparent.


Thanks to generous support from Wolverhampton Network Consortium, Connects and The Church Urban Fund, we were able to employ people in short term posts where training was provided to enable them to work successfully on this project and equip them for further work after their contract with Zip had finished. This was staggeringly successful - not only did we have the great good fortune to work with committed people from different backgrounds, but also 90% of the initial team have moved on to jobs, good jobs. These are as diverse as being a scene painter for Disney, an administrator in the Tax Office, a youth worker, a personal assistant to the Churches Link Officer and of course, the people who have become part of Zip's full time team in music, design and dance.

The ball started rolling with a publicity launch in The Mayor's Parlour in June 1999. We performed a special Adam and Eve story and invited people from the different faith and community groups across the town. Everyone was invited to join in. And from that initial seed, the tree that is the centrepiece of our Mystery Cycle has grown. Now, 2 years later, the tree, which forms the main part of our set, has been designed and painted by Zip's designer and an army of volunteers. Animals of all shapes and sizes have come to life via the imagination and hard work of the team of people who have regularly attended craft workshops at Zip's base in the Newhampton Arts Centre.

A writer's group has met and communicated by e-mail to develop the script. Rehearsal sessions for a cast of 150 have taken place 4 nights a week and the play is taking shape.

Organising and time-tabling all this has taken a mighty collective effort from all involved. Communicating and co-ordinating the movements of 200 people is a logistical nightmare which takes time, patience and money. Meeting press and print deadlines, designing artwork, liasing with the Civic Hall, booking rehearsal spaces, visiting schools and community associations, organising lorries for the pageant as well as co-ordinating all of Zip's usual busy schedule of work has been a major challenge. And all through the process there is the other worry - money.

What if we can't raise sponsorship? What if the costs of the venue become prohibitive? What if the cheque doesn't come? What if, what if, what if.......? Doubts rage through one's mind as The Wolverhampton Mystery Cycle enters the world kicking and screaming. Moments of despair and moments of joy. Dark moments when we weren't sure if there was enough in the kitty to pay staff wages. Good moments when the City Centre Forum generously provided all the materials for the set, bought adverts in our programme and showed faith in the venture with their help and support. And, of course, during these times, the overwhelming support of the participants.

Now, we're almost there and I know The Wolverhampton Mystery Cycle is a truly wonderful, unique event. The making of the Mystery Cycle has generated so much positive energy. We have worked with a fabulous group of people and have had the help and support of those who have become dear friends. It's a minor miracle!.............................June 2001