As You Like It is the second Public Acts production, the National Theatre’s new initiative to create extraordinary acts of theatre and community. The production forms part of a two-year partnership with Coram and other organisations who deliver visionary work in their communities, together with theatre partner Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch. Through Public Acts, young people from Coram have taken part in a bespoke programme including fortnightly workshops, theatre trips and opportunities for socialising and creating together. The workshops were attended by young people aged 16-25 who have been supported by Coram’s young people’s programmes, including: young parents, adopted and care experienced young people and those from migrant and refugee backgrounds.
This UK premiere sees more than one hundred community members, professional actors, and performance groups from across London, come together for this magical tale of faithful friends, feuding families and lovers in disguise. Alongside Coram, the other Public Acts community partners are: Body & Soul, Bromley by Bow Centre, DABD, The Faith & Belief Forum, HASWA (Havering Asian Social Welfare Association), Open Age, Queen’s Community Group and Thames Reach.
Brigid Robinson, Managing Director of Coram Voice and Coram Young People’s Programmes said: “Coram has a long history of involvement in the arts, with composer Handel, artist William Hogarth and author Charles Dickens among our earliest supporters. The Public Acts initiative has enabled us to bring the arts as a form of expression to the young people on our programmes and has been hugely positive in boosting their confidence, public speaking and team building skills. Some had little or no previous experience of theatre or acting and it has opened up new possibilities for them and their futures.”
One of Coram’s young people involved in the project said: “The spirit of it was never lost throughout, every week it felt magical. It felt like a community. It pushed me to show just how much we could all do and there was a result at the end of it. It started a journey that I want to continue, in exploring myself in theatre and arts. And it gave me a community to learn and grow together with. I’m much braver, confident and excited about the future.”
Emily Lim, Director of Public Acts, said, “We have had a wonderful second year deepening our relationships with all our exceptional community partners and the brilliant Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch. We can’t wait to bring everyone together to get started on rehearsals for our summer production. We are particularly excited to be working with a brand new creative team on this joyful, ambitious adaptation and to be welcoming lots of new community members to the company”.
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 and artists across the UK.