Arcola Theatre to showcase Hackney’s creativity with festival of community and youth shows

Hackney’s diverse community will take centre stage at Arcola Theatre in February and March 2020.

The Creative Disruption Festival will feature ten productions performed by members of the theatre’s award-winning youth, schools and community programme. Arcola Participation creates over 13,000 opportunities a year for local people and young artists to get involved in the performing arts.

Thomas Middleton and William Rowley’s The Changeling, which features scenes set in Bedlam, will be reimagined by a company of local people with experience of Mental Health issues. Lysistrata, Aristophanes’ play about sexual relations in a male-dominated society, will be performed by local Over-50s. Days of Significance, Roy Williams’ response play to Much Ado About Nothing about young casualties of war, will be staged by the Academy group of 16- to 25-year-olds; while A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be performed ‘Ala-Turka’ (as Bahar Noktasi) by performers from the local Turkish community.

Additionally, there will be original, devised pieces, created in their entirety by Arcola Participation’s Queer Collective of LGBTQ+ people, Womens’ Company and Youth Theatres, and the premiere of a new play staged in partnership with the acclaimed women’s theatre company, Clean Break.

All performances will be open to the public, with tickets priced at £15 or under, and Pay What You Can tickets will be available for the first performance of every show.

Arcola is rare among professional theatres for its management of long-running community theatre companies, and for its annual productions of new shows by every company. The Creative Disruption Festival, which sees a community ‘takeover’ of one of Arcola’s main performance spaces for five weeks, is returning for a fifth successive year.

But Arcola’s support for local community art is as old as the building itself: the ‘Ala-Turka’ Turkish-language company was founded with the theatre in 2000.

For the first time, the majority of performances in the Festival will be ‘relaxed’, improving access to those who prefer a less restrictive performance environment. This may include people with learning disabilities, movement and autistic spectrum disorders, other neurological conditions, those with young children or babies, and people with Tourettes.

Participation Manager Bec Martin-Williams said:

“Creative Disruption is made up of the stories of our community – an extraordinary range of people, aged 8 to 88, from many different walks of life. They are the lifeblood of this theatre, and their creativity is at the heart of this festival.”

Access Development Manager James York said:

“Community theatre is about opening the door to everyone. But too often, the theatre environment itself is a barrier – especially for disabled audiences. Arcola is proud to be expanding our relaxed performance offering to cover the majority of the Creative Disruption festival, making it more welcoming and accessible than ever before.”

Click here for the full festival listings.