National Theatre’s new Public Acts initiative programme launches with a musical version of Shakespeare’s Pericles

Category: Queen's Theatre 2

A new initiative called ‘Public Acts’ is to launch at The Queen’s Theatre between 26 – 28 August, with a musical version of Shakespeare’s Pericles

The ‘Public Acts’ initiative is being run in partnership with National Theatre’s, which creates extraordinary acts of theatre and community. A company of over 200 people of all ages from across London join together with professional artists to breathe new life into this classic tale in a musical version on the National Theatre’s Olivier stage.

Pericles launches Public Acts and marks the mid-point of a two-year partnership with DABD, HASWA (Havering Asian Social Welfare Association) and six other organisations who deliver visionary work in their communities, together with Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch; the first theatre partner on Public Acts. Through Public Acts, members of DABD and HASWA have taken part in a programme of workshops, trips and opportunities for exchange, and will form part of the company for Pericles.

DABD is a local charity that enables independence for vulnerable people, helping them to achieve a better quality of life and to make their own choices. DABD’s weekly workshops were aimed at young people aged 16 -24 and focused on building confidence and speaking out. Feedback from the young people so far has been extremely positive, with them citing a ‘wonderful experience’ and ‘an amazing opportunity.’

Havering Asian Social Welfare Association (HASWA) intends to improve the quality of life of Asians and the wider communities residing in Havering, by catering to the social, cultural and welfare needs of people and promote social integration. HASWA’s members have taken part in creative workshops and trips to find out more about how a professional theatre works, learning about different aspects of performance such as movement, music and awareness of space.

Prince Pericles has everything but understands little. When a reckless act threatens his safety, he must flee his home and take to sea. Reliant on the whims of the fates and the kindness of strangers, Pericles is driven from shore to shore. Only by reaching the ends of the earth may he finally understand what it means to come home.

The cast also includes Ashley Zhangazha, Audrey Brisson, Ayesha Dharker, Garry Robson, Kevin Harvey, Naana Agyei-Ampadu and seven cameo performance groups who represent the cultural diversity of London: Ascension Eagles, Faithworks Gospel Choir, London Bulgarian Choir, Manifest Nation, The Archetype Dance Team, The Bhavan and The Youthsayers.

The NT has commissioned Chris Bush, a writer with extensive experience working with large community ensembles, to adapt Shakespeare’s Pericles which will be directed by NT Resident Director Emily Lim. Music for the production is by James Fortune. The production is designed by Fly Davis and choreographed by Robby Graham. Lighting design is by Paule Constable, sound design by Paul Arditti and Tarek Merchant is Music Director.

Pericles is the first production in the National Theatre’s Public Acts initiative, a new programme of sustained partnerships with communities and theatres across the UK which will create ambitious new works of participatory theatre.

Artistic Director, Douglas Rintoul at the Queen’s Theatre said, “We’re thrilled to be the first partner collaborating with the National Theatre on Public Acts. It’s enabling us to engage deeply with diverse community groups in a way that will have a long lasting impact on individuals and our organisation. It’s creating a cultural meeting place, connecting Inner and Outer London whilst also enhancing a sense of local pride through the celebration of our community and the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch itself.”

Public Acts is inspired by Public Works, the Public Theater’s ground-breaking programme in New York and by the visionary participatory work of other theatres across the UK over the past decades.

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