Community drama festival lights up Arcola
- Credit: 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.
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.
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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.
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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.
' 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.