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Bathway Theatre's WHAT ABOUT US? Programme Launched

Bathway Theatre's WHAT ABOUT US? Programme Launched

After a launch event in March which saw a range of local businesses and residents sharing their aspirations for Woolwich's Bathway Theatre, WHAT ABOUT US - the University of Greenwich's packed programme of shows and participatory events at their Woolwich venue, supported by the Royal Greenwich Community Arts Fund - is now well underway.

The impressive list of free performances includes a special preview of the award-winning My Love Lies Frozen In The Ice by Dead Rabbits Theatre Company ahead of a run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Set in 1897, the show follows the fortunes of three explorers who make a perilous journey to the North Pole in a hot air balloon - and of the woman driven mad by her exclusion from the adventure. The company's offbeat combination of humour and heart has led to awards in both Canada and the UK - most recently, the company won the 2019 Les Enfants Terribles/Greenwich Theatre Partnership Award, beating over 100 emerging theatre companies to secure a package of support for their Edinburgh Festival show.

Dead Rabbits Theatre Company also features in the season of free performance with a public sharing of work in development for the company's new Arts Council supported show, Some Light Entertainment In These Troubled Times. Set in an early 20th Century circus, the heroic and strange story of one woman's fight for greatness in our troubled times promises to uncover glimpses of lives of the exotic, the different, the ones who lived in shadows of glitter and tears.

For children, ChiffChaff Children's Theatre presents a double-bill of stage adaptations of stories by Jill Murphy - Peace At Last and Whatever Next. Murphy is best known as writer of the Worst Witch series of books which has sold more than 4 million copies. For these new stage productions, a real coup for the Woolwich venue, ChiffChaff stage Murphy's parallel tales of a daddy bear looking for a quiet place to sleep, and a baby bear who wants to go to the moon.

The programme also intersects with the borough's first Africa Festival this summer, with a free storytelling event run by Black Female Entrepreneur Greenwich (BFEG). The company was set up to empower black women with an entrepreneurial spirit, supporting them in starting and owning their own businesses.

What About Us also includes a range of participatory activities for young people, supported by the Royal Borough of Greenwich. Gale Force Productions Universal Ltd are recruiting performers aged 16+ for weekly music and singing workshop What About Us, My Own Swagga. At the same time, The ROMEL Foundation are still recruiting borough-based participants aged 14-17 for a weekly programme of poetry and spoken word workshops. The massive increase in spoken word performance has been credited with a real resurgence in young people writing poetry in recent years, with theatre performers like Kate Tempest and grime artists like Stormzy putting a huge emphasis on the performance potential of written poetry.

Simon Armitage, named as the new Poet Laureate last month, told the BBC that he wants to identify "talent, particularly among young people, among whom poetry might be a way forward, an outlet." The ROMEL Foundation's initiative offers the opportunity to do just that, finding the stars of tomorrow and supporting them not only in writing but in performing their work for a live audience, as both the spoken word participants and those involved in My Own Swagga will take to the stage at Bathway on Saturday 8 June.

Dave Hockham, What About Us project lead for University of Greenwich, said "This is just the start of the conversation in embedding Bathway Theatre in the local community. This first programme of free activity delivered with partners from the Royal Borough of Greenwich, Galeforce Productions Universal Ltd and the ROMEL Foundation, will see Bathway Theatre working in harmony with other cultural activities already happening in the Woolwich and around the borough, as well as complementing our drama undergraduate programme and wider university activity."

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