Wordplay was a mass movement spectacular featuring a volunteer cast of 90 performers alongside Southpaw’s professional cast, performed as the official opening ceremony to the National Centre for the Written Word, The Word.

Created by Southpaw Dance Company and produced by Event International, Wordplay featured large scale video and projection mapping by Novak, mass movement and visual effects choreographed by Robby Graham and Southpaw members, alongside text by writer and author Carina Rodney.

Wordplay drew on South Tyneside’s rich history and numerous literary connections to illuminate themes of contemporary, topical relevance. Wordplay is about using language to take ownership over the fears that limit us from achieving our dreams and aspirations. It examines the words and language we use in reference to ourselves, others, and the world, and how this language can affect the opportunities we allow ourselves. It is about the importance of words in shaping meaning and defining ourselves and the world around us.

During the Shieldspeak creative process we worked with the groups to learn about the fears and opinions that could limit their opportunities to access the building. In performance, these insecurities were explored through the experiences of three representational characters.

Wordplay used kinetic and audible text and powerful visual imagery to evoke contemporary South Shields’ own collective language; a language that is evolving, affirmative, aspirational and potentially life changing. It was a celebration of local cultural identity that embraces aspirations for the future, and links the potential contained in the landmark Word building to the needs of future generations; the potential of The Word building to provide the knowledge and tools that are needed to create a positive, aspirational dialect that points to the future.