Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Cardboard Dramaturgy: Adrian Jackson @ Soho 2017

  • Award-winning theatre company Cardboard Citizens has announced that it will revive its critically acclaimed production of CATHY at Soho Theatre for three weeks from 27 March – 14 April, alongside other UK dates this spring. The tour will culminate in a one week run at London’s Albany Theatre from 1 – 5 May. The Soho Theatre run will give audiences the first chance to see the play as a stand-alone piece with the remaining dates offering an interactive forum.

Cathy first premiered in October 2016 at London’s Pleasance Theatre before visiting theatres, prisons and hostels around the UK. The hugely successful £1 ticket initiative offered vulnerable and homeless people an accessible way to experience the piece with almost 20% of audience members homeless or at risk. Most recently, the production had an acclaimed five star run at Edinburgh Festival 2017 where it was seen by over 2000 people.

Cathy premiered last autumn
following Cardboard Citizens one-off theatrical re-staging of Ken Loach’s seminal work Cathy Come Home at the Barbican. 

Inspired by the iconic film, award-winning playwright Ali Taylor’s (Cotton Wool, OVERSPILL) new play continues Cardboard Citizens exploration of the state of housing and homelessness. 

Based on true stories, this timely reflection looks at the social and personal impact of spiralling housing costs and the challenges of forced relocation out of city centres experienced by many people on council waiting lists.

While the UK tour featured a Forum Theatre section, following the performance of the play, Edinburgh audiences will experience a similar style of interactive theatre called Legislative Theatre. This will offer audiences a chance to voice their opinion at every performance, take action, express their views and contribute to the proposal of new housing laws. 

The new format follows the high-profile performance of Cathy at the House of Lords earlier this year when the company presented to MPs the top five housing laws suggested by audiences on the UK tour.
Reprising their roles in the show are: Alex Jones, Amy Loughton, Cathy Owen and Hayley Wareham.

First broadcast in 1966 on the
BBC, Cathy Come Home, the inspiration for Cathydepicts a young family’s slide into homelessness. The first screening of the film led to public outrage at the state of housing in Britain and became a defining cultural landmark, demonstrating the power of art to effect social and political change. 

Of the Cardboard Citizens staging last year, Ken Loach said: “There are more people made desperate by having no home now than when Cathy Come Home was first made. Then, we still had council housing… Now, we only have the market. And the market has failed. It gives us luxury apartments in tower blocks for investors while families live in over-crowded single rooms. The lesson from Cathy is that we need to plan – for council housing, for secure jobs alongside the houses and for a proper infrastructure for schools and healthcare. All the rest is propaganda.”

Cathy premiered in October at London’s Pleasance Theatre with The Stage commenting in its four star review: "At a time of escalating house prices and entrenched inequality, a touching and troubling productions like this may be just as urgent now as they were half a century ago."

Cathy follows Cardboard Citizens’ Home Truths, which features the world premieres of nine new plays exploring the history of housing. 

What was the inspiration for this show? 

Cathy Come Home is a seminal film, which changed the public debate about homelessness. We thought it was timely, on its 50th anniversary and 25 years since Cardboard Citizens was founded, to revisit its content and see what has changed (and what has not). What would a Cathy de nos jours look like? Would a family be broken up in the same way today, or have we learned more compassion?

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

The proof is in the pudding: we played the show to
nearly 6000 people on its UK tour, followed by a Forum Theatre debate. In every venue there was vigorous participation. To end the show we invited the audience to suggest new housing laws that should be enacted to improve the situation. We collected hundreds of ideas and presented the most popular five after a special performance at the House of Lords in January this year, to accompany the second reading of the Homelessness Reduction Bill. Who says theatre does nothing?

How did you go about gathering the team for it? 

We try to employ people with experience of homelessness when we can- in this case, we started with two actors out of four with this experience, one of whom sadly left during rehearsals because of health reasons. The show’s designer Lucy Sierra has collaborated with us before, and the stage management team were also old Cardboard Citizens’ friends. Many Cardboard Citizens’ members also appear in the filmed and recorded extracts that are integrated into the show.

How did you become interested in making performance? 

I acted for a bit at university and found that directing was more fun. I always wanted to make theatre which spoke about important stuff. I founded Cardboard Citizens in 1991 after working with a group of street-dwelling homeless people who were living in what was then called Cardboard City, the underpass now occupied by the IMAX in London’s Southbank.

Was there any particular approach to the making of the show?

Our inspiration, Cathy Come Home, used vox-pops and true stories researched and woven together in a form which is close to documentary but with the full intensity of narrative and fiction. We followed the same formula. We have many homeless people around us at Cardboard Citizens, so there was no shortage of stories for us to base the show on.
Does the show fit with Cardboard Citizens’ usual productions?
We seek to tell untold stories, and we try whenever possible to stimulate debate. Homelessness is on the rise, after some years when the trend went the other way. We must not get used to stepping over bodies on the street – theatre can help us remember that this is not necessary or right.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

They will be moved (if past form is anything to go by) and they will think about their own lives; I hope they will be angered, provoked into action.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience? 

We are experienced at stimulating debate – this show played in theatres, hostels and prisons during its premiere run in autumn 2016/winter 2017. For us it is also a goal to ensure that at any performance, even in theatres, the audience will be mixed, and will include people who have experienced homelessness themselves. This enriches the debate.

Adrian Jackson (director) is the Founder, Director and Chief Executive of Cardboard Citizens. Adrian founded Cardboard Citizens in 1991 and since then he has directed over 30 productions for the company, devising and writing many of them including Pericles and Timon (with
RSC) The Beggar’s Opera (with ENO),The Lower Depths (with London Bubble), Mincemeat (winner of Evening Standard award) and Home Truths (currently running at The Bunker in London).  He directed his own play, A Few Man Fridays at Riverside Studios in 2012, and Kate Tempest’s Glasshouse in 2013. In 2013 he also wrote and performed an intervention in Elmgreen/Dragset’s installation Tomorrow at the V & A. Adrian also teaches the Theatre of the Oppressed methodology all over the world.

Ali Taylor (playwright) trained at
the Royal Court Young Writers’ Programme. His first play Cotton Wool at Theatre503 won the 18th Meyer Whitworth Award. Ali went on to be one of the winners of ‘Metamorphosis08’, a new play competition run by the Churchill Theatre, Bromley, for his play Overspill. It was performed at the theatre before transferring to Soho Theatre. His writing for young people includes two plays for Polka Theatre: Sticks and Stones and an adaptation of The Machine Gunners (shortlisted for the Brian Way Award). His work also includesConspiracy (RWCMD/Gate Theatre), Under My Skin (Pegasus Theatre), Fault Lines (Hampstead Theatre) and his radio plays for BBC Radio 4 including Eight Feet High And Rising and Cinders. 

Alex Jones (multi-role male) is best known for his role as Clive Horrobin in the long running BBC Radio 4 Contemporary drama The Archers and subsequently Archers & Ambridge Extra, as well as over 100 other radio plays including Heartlands with BBC Radio 4 producer Jane Marshall, The Old Curiosity Shop and Albion Tower (winner of the Gold Sony Award). Recently he played Keith Loader in BBC's Doctors, other television and film includes Jane Eyre, Fourth Arm, The Specials, Birds Of A Feather, Back Up, Boon & Hardcases, Faster, Harder, Longer and the BAFTA nominated film Rhubarb And Roses. His theatre credits include Shakespeare And Various Irish Extracts for the University of Birmingham (dir. Gwenda Hughes), The Mysteries at Coventry Cathedral for Belgrade Theatre (dir. Barry Kyle), Gilgamesh (dir. Claudette Bryanston), I'm A Minger (dir. Amy Bonsall) and productions at Birmingham Repertory Theatre including Of Mice And Men, Swamp City, Ash Girl and The Tempest.

Amy Loughton’s (multi-role female) theatre credits include: Dear UncleNeighbourhood Watch (both Stephen Joseph Theatre/No 1 Tour/59E59 New York), A View From The Bridge (Theatre by the Lake, Keswick), Peter Pan (New Vic, Stoke-on-Trent), Women, Power and Politics (Tricycle Theatre), Nation (National Theatre), Apart from George (Finborough Theatre), Blueprint for Write by Numbers (Bike Shed Theatre), Sergeant Jackson in Almost Near (Finborough Theatre), Theatre Cafe Festival (Company of Angels) and The Killing of Sister George (Dramatic Productions). Her film credits include British features Crowhurst (Great Point Media) and Aux (Evolutionary Films). TV credits include Talking to the Dead (Sky/Warp Films), EastEnders, Holby City and Emma (all BBC).

The production has been researched with the support of housing and homelessness charity Shelter. Soho Theatre will offer audiences the chance to see the play as a stand-alone piece. Each performance during the rest of the tour will include an interactive style debate in classic Forum Theatre style. Forum Theatre is a style of theatre that empowers the audience to change the outcome and have their say on one of society’s most topical subjects today meaning every performance will be a completely unique experience. The audience will be encouraged to suggest different actions and outcomes for the narrative, helping to actively engage with the issues that the play presents and change the course of the central characters’ lives. Audience members can be as involved as they decide, whether choosing to get up on stage and act themselves or just sit back and watch as the story is rewritten in front of their eyes.

This revival celebrates the success of the audience’s interaction to date: Last year Cardboard Citizens presented the most popular audience suggestions for laws to change the UK’s current housing crisis to Members of Parliament during a special performance at the House of Lords.

The production will play at Soho Theatre from Tuesday 27 March to Saturday 14 April, with opening night for press on 28 March. The show will also play in Cornwall, Cardiff, Swansea, Milford Haven, Aberystwyth and London’s Albany, with further tour dates to be announced. Tickets for Albany Theatre and The Welfare are now on sale, tickets for Soho Theatre will go on sale to friends on Monday 15 January and general on-sale on Wednesday 17 January with remaining dates on sale late January. Please see listings for full details.

As with all Cardboard Citizens productions, a proportion of tickets for all venue dates will be made available to people with experience of homelessness at £1.

Cathy Owen’s (Cathy) theatre credits include: Home Truths (Cardboard Citizens, The Bunker), This Wide Night (Clean Break, Soho Theatre UK Tour), The Last Valentine (Almeida), Silent Engine(Pentabus, Fringe First Winner), Kolbe’s Gift (Leicester Square Theatre), Edwina: A Cautionary Tale for Grown Ups (The Stadsteatern, Stockholm, BAC), Mother Courage and her Children (National Theatre of Wales), A Chaste Maid in Cheapside (Almeida UK Tour), Macbeth (Ludlow Festival), Shrew'd: Taming of the Shrew and The Tamer Tamed (Arcola), Marisol (Southwark Playhouse). Her Television credits include The Bill (TalkBack Thames); Casualty; Crown Prosecutor (BBC) and The Life and Death of Philip Night (YTV/Waller Films).

Hayley Wareham (Danielle) trained at the Oxford School of Drama. Work since graduating includes: This Secret Life (Tour) Strawberry Starburst (Brockley Jack Theatre) and Is This Rape: Sex on Trial (BBC3). Hayley has just completed the Soho Theatre Writers' Lab.
Director: Adrian Jackson
Writer: Ali Taylor
Dramaturg: Sarah Woods
Researcher: Alison Cain
Assistant Director:  Emilia Teglia
Designer:  Lucy Sierra
Lighting Designer: Mark Dymock
Sound Designer:  Matt Lewis

Cardboard Citizens is an award-winning theatre company and one of the world’s leading practitioners of Forum Theatre. We have toured across hostels, day centres and prisons for the past 25 years, bringing theatre to the most marginalised in society. Through bold and immersive theatre, we break down conventional divisions between audiences and performers. Past productions include the Evening Standard Award-winning Mincemeat, Pericles and Timon (with RSC) The Beggar’s Opera (with ENO), The Lower Depths, A Few Man Fridays and Home Truths, which is currently playing at London’s The Bunker.

St Austell Arts Theatre                          On sale late January
Dates: Saturday 17 March
Performance Schedule: TBC
Box Office: 01726 879 500

The Acorn Theatre, Penzance                
            On sale late January
Dates: Monday 19 March
Performance Schedule: 7.30pm
Box Office: 01726 879 500

Mylor Theatre Truro College, Truro                On sale late January
Dates: Tuesday 20 March
Performance Schedule: 7.30pm
Box Office: 01726 879 500

Soho Theatre, London                                        
 Friends On sale 15 Jan, 12 noon
Dates: Tuesday 27 March – Saturday 14 April          General On sale 17 Jan
Press Night: 28 March
Performance Schedule: Evening perfs Tues – Sat 7.15pm, Mon 9 Apr 7.15pm,
Matinee perfs Sat 3pm and Thu 5 Apr 3pm
Box Office: 020 7478 0100

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff                 
   On sale late January
Dates: Monday 23 April – Tuesday 24 April
Performance Schedule: 8pm
Box Office: 029 2063 6464

The Welfare, Swansea
Dates: Wednesday 25 April
Performance Schedule: 7.30pm
Box Office: 01639 843163

Torch Theatre, Milford Haven                             On sale late January
Dates: Thursday 26 April
Performance Schedule: 7.30pm
Box Office: 01646 695 267

Arts Centre Studio, Aberystwyth               
        On sale late January
Dates: Friday 27 April
Performance Schedule: 7.45pm
Box Office: 01646 695 267

Albany Theatre, London
Dates: Tuesday 1 May – Saturday 5 May
Performance Schedule: Evening perfs Tue – Sat 7.30pm, Matinee perfs Tue  2pm and Sat 3pm
Box Office: 020 8692 4446

1 comment :

  1. Thank you Gareth. See this