Arcola Creative Engagement announces Creative/Disruption 17

A season of stories from Arcola’s community
  • Arcola Queer Collective return after two sold-out productions with THE DRAG by Mae West and THE X, a new adaptation of La Prisonnière by Édouard Bourdet, 90 years after both plays scandalised America.
  • The Collective’s Opening Night Cabaret and new collaborations with Project Indigo (Hackney’s only LGBT+ youth club) and Unfinished Histories complete the You’re Here, You’re Queer mini-festival.
  • Arcola Men’s Mental Health Company return with a new work, UNDERCOVER.
  • Arcola 50+ premiere BEAUTIFUL (NOT THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL), an exploded jukebox musical made in collaboration with performance artist and theatre-maker Paul O’Donnell.
  • Arcola Ala-Turka, one of the UK’s leading Turkish-language theatre collectives, present CHOLERA STREET / Ağır Roman, an adaptation of the classic Turkish novel and film, directed by Aylin Bozok.
  • Emerging company Kittensh*t present NOT MY BOY, exploring the causes and effects of sexual trauma.
  • I AM AN ARTIST – a new project with Drama For All, the Hackney based theatre group for adults with learning disabilities – is presented with a relaxed performance.
  • Rikki Beadle-Blair and the Gate’s Associate Director Lynette Linton team up to present #HASHTAG LIGHTIE, a new play that explores being young, mixed-race and British.
  • London Artists Project’s TRUTH TO POWER CAFÉ kicks off its 2017 East London tour.
  • Gabriel Gbadamosi presents BECOMING BLACK! In association with Arcola Lab.

3 – 6 January 2017
Arcola Creative Engagement presents


Devised by the company
Directed by Ross Crosby

Following their acclaimed debut production Technically Speaking, Arcola Men’s Mental Health Group lift the covers on an urgent, uplifting new production.

Devised from real-life experiences, this powerful world premiere shows another side to men’s mental health, and reveals its impact on individuals and communities.

Come UNDERCOVER on a journey that will shatter your preconceptions and challenge the stigma around men’s mental health.

World premiere

Monday-Friday at 8pm
Tickets £10/8

9 – 13 January 2017
Arcola Queer Collective presents


A radical reimagining of La Prisonnière by Edouard Bourdet
Directed by Rubyyy Jones



By Mae West
Adapted and directed by Peter Darney

As part of the Queer Collective mini-season “You’re Here… You’re Queer”, Arcola Creative Engagement presents new productions of two of the most controversial plays from 1920s America; THE DRAG, written by Mae West and directed by Peter Darney (5 Guys Chillin’, King’s Head Theatre and Off-Broadway), and THE X, a radical reimagining of La Prisonnière by Edouard Bourdet, directed by international cabaret and queerlesque star Rubyyy Jones.

Both productions were infamously shut down during their inaugural runs in the United States. They confront historic discrimination with sensual, vibrant, and tender depictions of the people directly facing oppression.

Alongside these headline productions, the Collective presents a range of events supporting exciting LGBT+ initiatives, plus a wild Opening Night Cabaret:

  • “You’re Here… You’re Queer” Opening Night Cabaret (8 Jan, 8pm): Join the Collective for performances, music, drinks and dancing. No better way to shake off the New Year blues!
  • Between Years: Fundraising Project for Project Indigo (14 Jan, 3:30pm): An exciting collaboration that will see members of the Collective joined onstage by young people from Project Indigo to present new spoken word, song and performances.
  • Queer Plays Then and Now: 1967-2017 (15 Jan, 3pm): For the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, Arcola Queer Collective are delving into the Unfinished Histories Archive and beyond to unearth and present snapshots of Queer Plays from 1967 to now.

#ArcolaX #ArcolaDrag

Monday-Friday; The X at 7pm and The Drag at 9pm (special events as listed)
Tickets £10/8

16 – 18 January 2017
Kittensh*t and Arcola Creative Engagement present


A new show created by Kittensh*t

More than 70% of sex offenders are male. In NOT MY BOY, acclaimed theatre company Kittensh*t asks why, and how to raise a son who does not add to this statistic.

Created with abuse survivors, charities and support groups, NOT MY BOY pieces together the causes and effects of sexual trauma, and sparks a vital conversation about how we can prevent it. This frank, revealing and often surprising production broaches major issues from consent to stigma, and offers a memorable insight into the complexity and urgency of the challenges we now face.

World premiere

Monday-Wednesday at 8pm
Tickets £10/8

20 – 22 January 2017
Arcola 50+ presents

BEAUTIFUL (not the Carole King Musical)

Adapted by the company from an original idea by Paul O’Donnell
Directed by Nick Connaughton with Paul O’Donnell

Arcola’s acclaimed performance company for older adults returns to tell the tragic love story of a Docker and Waitress as they come to terms with their forbidden love for one another, a love that would tear them apart… Inspired by the lyrics of Bon Jovi’s hit record Living on a Prayer and featuring music, magic and mahem, BEAUTIFUL is sure to get your pulses racing and your toes tapping.

Directed by Arcola’s Creative Engagement Manager Nick Connaughton, with Paul O’Donnell (Associate Artist at Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Theatre Absolute, Coventry), this new tongue-in-cheek musical experience explores the pomp and circumstance of modern musicals, and asks us to question if the art of imagination is being lost to machinery, illusion and extravagance.

World premiere

Friday – Sunday at 8pm, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3.30pm
Tickets £10/8

24 January 2017
Drama for All, Advance and Arcola Creative Engagement present


Created by the Company
Directed by Adelle Havard

For one afternoon only, Drama for All presents a devised piece of theatre that brings together people of all ages, abilities, and cultures to explore the importance of voicing our needs and pursuing our desires. I AM AN ARTIST aims to have a positive influence on the way we think, feel, and live by asking questions that affect us all, and celebrating the answers.

Drama for All is a drama group from Hackney, London. Founded in 2013 and facilitated by Adelle Havard with the support of the Community Aspiration Team at Advance.

Tuesday 24 January at 3pm
Tickets FREE

26 -28 January 2017

Arcola Ala-Turka present


Based on the novel by Metin Kacan
Directed by Aylin Bozok

Adapted from Metin Kaçan‘s bestselling novel and subsequent film (considered by many to be one of the most important in Turkish cinema), AGIR ROMAN is a thrilling drama and a heart-stopping tragedy set in the underworld of the Turkish capital.

Following her acclaimed productions of Mahmud İle Yezida, Pelléas et Mélisande and Werther, Aylin Bozok returns to direct Arcola Ala-Turka, one of the UK’s leading Turkish-language performance collectives.


Thursday- Saturday at 8pm, Saturday matinee at 3.30pm
Tickets £10/8

31 January – 4 February 2017

Lynnette Linton & Team Angelica, in association with Arcola Creative Engagement present


by Lynette Linton
Directed by Rikki Beadle-Blair

Ella is popular, addicted to social media, Queen of the Selfie, and mixed race. Her thriving YouTube channel has make up tips, opinions, and videos of her boisterous family. But after one of her videos goes viral, Ella finds herself in the centre of a social media storm that leads to a family meltdown. With her identity and perception of beauty challenged, can Ella promote self-love without fueling hate?

Writer Lynette Linton (Associate Director, The Gate) and director Rikki Beadle –Blair (Team Angelica, Theatre Royal Stratford East) combine for a heartwarming and hilarious exploration of the conflicting ideas of what it means to be mixed race in Britain today.

World premiere

Public Performances: 31 January – 4 February at 8pm, Saturday matinee at 3.30pm
Schools Performance: 1-3 Jan at 1.30pm

Tickets £12/10 (public)
All tickets £6 (schools, no group booking discount)

18 – 20 January 2017
A London Artists Projects production in association with Index on Censorship and Arcola Creative Engagement


Devised and Hosted by Jeremy Goldstein

Arcola Theatre presents the first three nights of The Truth to Power Cafe 2017, beginning a unique six-month journey into the heart of East London, and celebrating it as a site of free speech, activism and political dissidence.

From an open call, we are seeking 18 participants of all ages and backgrounds local to Arcola.

World premiere

Wednesday – Friday from 6pm-6.45pm in Arcola Bar
Tickets FREE

18 January 2017
Gabriel Gbadamosi with Arcola Lab present


Exploring Black writers and artists’ experiences of growing up in Britain and their responses to the education system, multiculturalism and Black identity.

With short practical demonstrations, readings and discussion with artist Janette Parris, novelist Diran Adebayo, poet Jay Bernard, historian SI Martin and playwright Gabriel Gbadamosi.

Presented as part of ARCOLA LAB – the theatre’s BAMER artist space and support programme.

Wednesday 18 January 2017 from 6.30pm
Tickets FREE (advanced booking required)

About Arcola Theatre

Arcola Theatre is one of London’s leading off-West End theatres. Locally engaged and internationally minded, Arcola stages a diverse programme of plays, operas and musicals. World-class productions from major artists appear alongside cutting-edge work from the most exciting emerging companies. Arcola delivers one of London’s most extensive community engagement programmes, creating over 5000 opportunities every year. By providing research and development space to diverse artists, Arcola champions theatre that’s more engaging and representative. Its pioneering environmental initiatives are internationally renowned, and aim to make Arcola the world’s first carbon-neutral theatre.

About Arcola Creative Engagement

Arcola Creative Engagement is the theatre’s youth, schools, community and talent development department. The department has a performance-centered approach, which underlies our belief that Arcola, and theatre more widely, is a space for everyone to have their voices heard, learn new skills and see this realised in front of an audience. Arcola Creative Engagement have been pioneers in targeted community theatre since our inception in 2000. We currently run four community theatre companies and each group works with professionals to present new work or re-imagined productions that shatter exceptions and challenge preconceptions. This culminates in the annual Creative Disruption Festival, which takes over Arcola Studio 2 for a month of thrilling work.
Press contact: Nick Connaughton (


3 – 6 January 2017

Under Cover

Created by the company
Directed by Ross Crosby

9 – 13 January 2017

The Drag

Directed by Peter Darney

9 – 13 January 2017

The X

Directed by Rubyyy Jones

7th January 2017

You’re Here… You’re Queer!

Directed by John Richardson and Arkem Walton

14 January 2017

Between Years: Fundraising Performance for Project Indigo

Directed by Project Indigo

14 January 2017

All Delighted People: A Queer Musical Theatre Revue

Directed by Nick Connaughton, Melina Antunes and Siobhan Knox

15 January 2017

Queer Plays Then and Now: 1967 – 2017

Produced by Arcola Queer Collective

16 -18 January 2017

Not My Boy

Created by Kittensh*t

18 – 20 January 2017

The Truth To Power Café 2017

Devised and hosted by Jeremy Goldstein

20 – 22 January 2017

Beautiful (not the Carole King Musical)

Directed by Nick Connaughton, with Paul O’Donnell

26 – 28 January 2017

Cholera Street / Ağır Roman

Directed by Aylin Bozok

31 January – 4 February 2017

#Hashtag Lightie

Directed by Rikki Beadle-Blairs