I’ve been volunteering at Milk Crate Theatre for a couple of (glorious) months now; collating feedback forms into excel spreadsheets, turning responses into data that quantifies the incredible work Milk Crate Theatre do. The amount of smiley faces, exclamation marks and other gut reactions I’ve transcribed from feedback forms into data sheets, I tell you. (I hope I have emoji’ed well)
During this time, I’ve noticed recurrent strains of feedback, no matter the show, or year, or whether from ensemble members, audience, students or teachers. These take the form of commenting on the strength of the personal stories and representation in the shows, embodied in actors and narrative, that become a way of understanding issues of homelessness and its related factors. Even on the page, I get the sense of Milk Crate’s extended community, impact and the resonant empathy created in the process of developing their work, as well as the strong effect this produces in its audiences.
Having also spent time in one of their workshops, developing and playing alongside a community of facilitators and artists, the generosity of everyone involved is apparent. I’ve been made to feel very welcome by this inspirational team, and had first-hand experience of how Milk Crate Theatre seeks to discuss and produce creative collaboration around complex issues.
I’ve also been scanning archival photos from old photo albums (fiddlier than Instagram but with better retro filters) pre-2010! Even several years on - these photos view-find the focus and passion that I find in the responses on the feedback sheets, and have encountered in the rehearsal room.
My time with Milk Crate Theatre has so far been very rewarding and has re-affirmed an understanding of how as a society we need stories from many people offering their ideas, thoughts, experiences and critical engagement on difficult topics. It’s no easy task to change the world, but Milk Crate Theatre does it by changing the worlds of many for the better.