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Community drama festival lights up Arcola

PUBLISHED: 17:12 09 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:17 09 March 2020

Arcola theatre's Creative disruption festival has ten shows running until March 15. Picture: Lidia Crisafulli

Arcola theatre's Creative disruption festival has ten shows running until March 15. Picture: Lidia Crisafulli

Lidia Crisafulli

Dalston’s Arcola Theatre is celebrating its community acting groups with a festival of “Creative Disruption” including a rendition of Aristophanes’ Greek comedy Lysistrata by the over-50s acting troupe.

The Arcola over-50s acting group are performing their version of the Greek Comedy Lysistrata in which women band together in protest with a sex strike. Picture: Lidia CrisafulliThe Arcola over-50s acting group are performing their version of the Greek Comedy Lysistrata in which women band together in protest with a sex strike. Picture: Lidia Crisafulli

Directors Katie Greenall and Grace Duggan are excited that groups like the Over 50s are being billed alongside main stage programming and say more theatres should value and acknowledge community theatre.

'A lot of theatres are supporting their local people in different ways but to actually allot studio space for this amount of time is really great - and a step forward in the way theatres should programme work,' said Duggan.

'That's something Me, Katie and a few other people in the industry are working for because I think it's a step theatres need to make to become spaces that do justice to their local communities rather than becoming spaces that are part of gentrification.'

The over-50s group is free to join and has no auditions. Cast member Sophie Matthias has done three shows so far and feels the group is very open and welcoming.

Their version of the play has been transported from ancient Greek times to the 1930s nestled between two world wars. Picture: Lidia CrisafulliTheir version of the play has been transported from ancient Greek times to the 1930s nestled between two world wars. Picture: Lidia Crisafulli

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'It's great because people want to come see how we interpret [a classic play]. People want to see how it's going to work with a cast of 30 people with mixed ages and mixed abilities.'

Duggan and Greenall met while doing a degree in community theatre and believe it's important to work towards making theatre more accessible for everyone.

Greenall told the Gazette: ' I truly believe these spaces have the power to be really transformative for people's lives - whether it's for entertainment or because they want to be involved in theatre or gain skills useful in developing a career.

Unlike the over-50s group other community groups at Arcola create devised works like it's Queer Collective, Mental Health Collective as well as Turkish, Womens and Youth groups. Picture: Lidia CrisafulliUnlike the over-50s group other community groups at Arcola create devised works like it's Queer Collective, Mental Health Collective as well as Turkish, Womens and Youth groups. Picture: Lidia Crisafulli

' But also it gives you a safe space to try out different versions of yourself in a way that's really special and important and it gives you really powerful and exciting bonds with people.'

Lysistrata was one of ten shows put on by Arcola's community acting groups as part of The Creative Disruption Festival. Other groups taking part include the theatre's Queer Collective, Mental Health Company, Women's Company and Youth Theatre.

The season continues until March 15 ending with Roy Williams' Much Ado About Nothing-inspired Days of Significance performed by Arcola Academy. Further details at arcolatheatre.com.


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