Young people from Coram’s programmes in National Theatre’s Shakespeare production

Published: Tuesday 12th June 2018

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 from 26 – 28 August 2018.

Members of the Pericles company joined by NT Artistic Director Rufus Norris and the Pericles creative team

Pericles launches Public Acts, the National Theatre’s new initiative to create extraordinary acts of theatre and community. The production marks the mid-point of a two-year partnership with children’s charity Coram and seven other organisations who delivery visionary work in their communities, together with theatre partner Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch. Through Public Acts, participants in Coram’s Young People Programmes have taken part in a programme of workshops, trips and opportunities for exchange, and will form part of the company for Pericles.

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.

Young people who are supported by the Coram group of charities includes adopted and care experienced young people, young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds and young parents.  Our young people involved in Public Acts have had an opportunity to gain confidence in their public speaking and performance skills and also learn to work collaboratively as a cast.

A young person involved with Public Acts via Coram said: “Since I joined I have really grown. I have developed my social confidence and met lots of new people, it gives you a space to get comfortable and try new things and you never know - you might find some talents you didn’t know you had!”

Brigid Robinson, Managing Director of Coram Voice and Coram’s Young People Programmes said, “We are delighted to be working with the National Theatre through Public Acts. Coram has a long rich relationship with the arts and is aware of its power, particularly when enabling children and young people to express themselves.  It has been a delight to see the positive impact which involvement in this initiative has had on the young people we work with.  We are all looking forward to the performance, and celebrating their creative and personal achievements”.

The cast also includes Ashley Zhangazha, Audrey Brisson, Ayesha Dharker, Garry Robson, Naana Agyei-Ampadu, performers recruited through our community partners 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 through which we will create ambitious new works of participatory theatre.

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.

Read more on Coram’s Young People projects and how you can support them here.

 

ABOUT THE NATIONAL THEATRE

At the National Theatre, we make world-class theatre that is entertaining, challenging and inspiring, and we make it for everyone. In 2016-2017, the NT staged 26 productions and gave 2,585 performances at our home on the South Bank. The NT’s award-winning programme had a UK paying audience of 1.8 million, 400,000 of which were NT Live audiences.

The work the National Theatre produces appeals to the widest possible audiences with new plays, musicals, reimagined classics and new work for young audiences. The NT’s work is seen in the West End, on tour throughout the UK and internationally, and in collaborations and co-productions with partners across the country. Through NT Live, we broadcast some of the best of British theatre to over 2,500 venues in 60 countries around the world.

Our extensive Learning programme offers talks, events and workshops for people of all ages, and reaches nationwide through programmes such as Connections, our annual festival of new plays for schools and youth theatres. In 2016-2017 there were 196,826 participations through the NT Learning events programme. Over 3,000 schools have signed up to the free streaming service, On Demand. In Schools, since its launch in September 2015. 

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ABOUT PUBLIC ACTS

Public Acts is a nationwide initiative to create extraordinary acts of theatre and community. The programme aims to build sustained partnerships with communities and theatres across the UK, through which we will create ambitious new works of participatory theatre.

Pericles is the first Public Acts production. It marks the mid-point of a two-year programme of workshops, trips and opportunities for exchange with eight organisations who deliver visionary work in their communities, together with the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch. The partners are: Body & Soul, Bromley by Bow Centre, Coram, DABD, Havering Asian Social Welfare Association (HASWA), Open Age, Thames Reach and The Faith & Belief Forum.

Our first Public Acts production will be a new, musical adaptation of Pericles in the Olivier Theatre – the NT’s largest stage – in August 2018. Chris Bush, a writer with vast experience of working with large community companies, has adapted Shakespeare’s original text. Music is by James Fortune and the production will be directed by NT Resident Director Emily Lim.

Public Acts is inspired by Public Works, the Public Theater’s ground-breaking programme of participatory theatre in New York, by the National Theatre’s own experience of creating we’re here because we’re here and by the visionary participatory work of other theatres across the UK over the past decades.