The Corner Shop
Memories of the Black Country corner shop over the years have been brought to life in a creative theatre production, set in the shell of an empty shop in Wolverhampton's Mander Shopping Centre.
The local corner shop
The Corner Shop has been inspired by real-life stories of corner shopkeepers, their families and customers in the Black Country over the past 60 years. The theatrical production has been produced by Foursight Theatre in association with Black Country Touring and celebrates the changing faces and cultures of the local corner shop.
A sense of community
Fighting for survival
An empty shop unit in Wolverhampton's Mander Shopping Centre has been transformed for the production where the audience can promenade down high streets and behind shop counters, on an emotional journey about the demise of the Black Country corner shop.
A cast of shopkeepers – English, Asian, Iranian, Caribbean and Polish, invite you into their lives and living rooms as they set up shop and fight to adapt and survive in a fast changing economical world.
The Corner Shop
Corner shop memories
A professional team worked alongside local volunteers from communities across the region and transformed the empty retail unit into several different spaces of real and imaginary interiors and exteriors. Many of the volunteers have historical family connections of running corner shops.
The production is based on original research conducted in 2008 by a team of volunteer researchers trained by Black Country Touring who went out and interviewed local shopkeepers, their families and customers.
A local Iranian shopkeeper
Project Co-ordinator Bobby Tiwana says the stories collected highlighed the hard grind of running a small business as well as customer loyalty, and sense of community.
"The most successful shop owners have a zest for life and openness to adapt and change to new circumstances. There are stories of incident, compassion and humour."
Read a behind the scenes blog of the Corner Shop project
A live theatre experience
In The Corner Shop, the audience can promenade around the spaces while a live performance takes place around them. Scenes run simultaneously as performers re-create the corner shop world sprinkled with humour and serious realities.
PERFORMANCE DATES AND TIMES
DATES: 23 October – 8 November 2009
The Corner Shop
VENUE: Units 23 – 25, The Mander Shopping Centre, Wolverhampton
ADMISSION: Tickets £7 (£5 concessions)
Early booking is advisable as limited capacity per show Box Office 0870 320 7000
* Running time: One hour, ten minutes
A local Polish shopkeeper
The demise of the Black Country corner shop
Wolverhampton's retail economy has been one of the hardest hit by the current financial crisis, with recent research by the Local Data Company ranking it fourth worst in the country, along with Derby, Blackpool and Liverpool, 21% of Wolverhampton's shop space is now empty in comparison to the national average of 12% (LDC Mid-Year Report, July 2009)
In 2008, volunteer researchers were trained by Black Country Touring and collected memories, photographs and documents of shopkeepers, their families and customers of the shops in the Black Country, ranging from traditional English to South Asian and Polish.
The stories and photographs collected by the volunteers will be archived at Sandwell Community History and archive service in Smethwick Library.
A local Black Country corner shop
Other aspects of the project include:
- 15 community volunteer researchers trained in oral history research and audio recording techniques.
- A collection of over 30 recorded audio interviews conducted with current and former shop owners and some of their customers and an accompanying education project for year 7 pupils at 2 Sandwell schools.
Read more about the corner shop production on the Foursight Theatre website.
last updated: 22/10/2009 at 16:51