This August, a company of over 100 community members, professional actors and performance groups from across London will come together to perform a musical adaptation of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It.

Following triumphant performances of Pericles at the National Theatre in summer 2018, this is the second Public Acts production and will take over the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch stage from 24 – 27 August.

Public Acts is a nationwide initiative to create extraordinary acts of theatre and community. Artistic Director Douglas Rintoul at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch has spoken out about directing this inspirational production.

Public Acts is an extraordinary celebration of real London communities. How do you feel working on such an inspirational project and bringing everyone together?

For two years, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and the National Theatre have been working with nine inspirational social change organisations from right across London as part of the NT’s Public Acts programme,, including three close to the Queen’s Theatre. The tremendous positivity the project generates in individuals, the organisations, including the National Theatre and ourselves, has blown me away. None of us will be the same. It has opened minds and hearts and created a genuine sense of connectivity right across London.

How was the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch selected as the first theatre partner on Public Acts?

A couple of years back, the National Theatre came to the Queen’s Theatre and worked with some of our community members.  The NT was keen to reach out into Outer London so this combined our long history of community engagement. We’re a community hub and we engage over 12,000 people a year which meant we were the ideal partner. I’m very proud that the Theatre is the first theatre partner in this UK-wide project. 

After Pericles, how was As You Like It chosen as the next Public Acts production?

About 18 months ago Rufus Norris, the Artistic Director of the National Theatre and Emily Lim, Director of Public Acts, asked what the second year of the programme could look like. I had seen footage of the brilliant Public Works performances from the Public Theater in New York (NT Public Acts is the sister project to the Public Theater’s Public Works). They had made an excellent and contemporary adaptation of As You Like It. I said, let’s do that.  With our long history of innovative and popular musical adaptations of Shakespeare, it felt like the right fit. 

How do you feel about directing a cast of over 100 people? This surely has to be your biggest production to date!?

This is my most significant production! The great thing about this show is, it’s not about me. It’s exhilarating to be supporting such a talented, inspirational and energised company.  I can’t wait to start rehearsals. 

That’s a lot of people in one building! How has the planning and logistics process been to make this happen?

This project has been in the making for over 18 months. Our Learning & Participation team, as well as pretty much every other member of the staff in the Theatre and the National Theatre Public Acts team, has been working tirelessly to make this project happen. You should see the pile of paperwork that Mathew our Executive Director has on his desk – it could bring the whole office down.  You should also see the size of the spreadsheets!

What are you most looking forward to on this production?

Seeing the cast in action in performance. 

Has there been anything else like this in the Queen’s Theatre’s 65-year history?

We have a long history of community musicals, but we’ve never had an intergenerational community company this large and one made up of members from right across London before. It’s also our first partnership with the National Theatre!

What do you hope audiences will take away from the performance?

This is going to be the biggest and best theatre event of the summer – not just in Havering but in London. It’s unmissable. This will be one audiences will never forget. 

As You Like It runs from 24 – 27 August at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch. For more information about As You Like It, Public Acts and to book tickets click here

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