The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is the theatre partner on the National Theatre’s new initiative Public Acts which creates extraordinary acts of theatre and community. The programme launches with a musical version of Shakespeare’s Pericles on 26 – 28 August.

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 (Body and Soul, Bromley by Bow Centre, Coram, Open Age, Thames Reach and The Faith & Belief Forum) 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, Naana Agyei-Ampadu and seven cameo performance groups who represent the cultural diversity of London: The Archetype Dance Team, Ascension Eagles, Faithworks Gospel Choir, London Bulgarian Choir, Manifest Nation, The Bhavan and The Youthsayers. Further announcements of the professional cast will be made in due course.

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.

Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is a vibrant regional theatre with a rich heritage of working in Outer East London, Essex and beyond, celebrating its 65th birthday in 2018. 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.”

Elaine James, CEO of DABD, said “We jumped at the chance to be involved in the Public Acts initiative – what an opportunity to make our first foray into the arts world, work with such prestigious partners as National Theatre and Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and of course, provide a fantastic opportunity for some of the young people we work with. We have seen our participants confidence grow so much since the programme started and now we can’t wait to see their hard work pay off in the production of Pericles this summer.”

Manjit K. Singh of HASWA said, “Taking part in Public Acts with the National Theatre has been such a rewarding and exciting experience for our members. Everyone has greatly enjoyed and looked forward to taking part in the workshops each week and I can’t believe how much our members have grown in confidence and developed new and lasting relationships with one another. We can’t wait to take part in Pericles at the National Theatre this summer.”

Emily Lim said, Public Acts is founded on the belief that theatre can be a force for change, bringing communities together to experience the power of collective purpose and imagination. We are so excited to be celebrating our first year of community partnerships this Summer with Pericles, our first Public Acts production, under the National Theatre’s Artistic Director Rufus Norris.”  

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.

For more information and tickets visit https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/pericles

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