Over the past four years, Theatre Royal’s Community Engagement programme has been working in Bury St Edmunds with participants from various partner organisations. Participants have had the opportunity to develop writing and performance skills, see performances at the theatre and attend rehearsals to explore the theatre making process. Participants have found their voice and contributed to staging their special and unique stories in the theatre to invited audiences. Our partners have included organisations who support vulnerable adults, work with homeless people, survivors of domestic violence and women living in refuge, people who are in recovery from addiction, young people at the YMCA to elderly people with Age UK and organisation’s who support human rights and racial equality in UK.
This new and very special project, has brought together members from all these partner organisations and some volunteers, who use their lived experience to enrich and inform the play we have created. This new piece of theatre, created by Theatre Royal’s Community Company, is aptly named The More Things Change.
The title comes from the saying ‘the more things change, the more they remain the same’. This year, Theatre Royal celebrates 200 years of existence. The group has been exploring how different issues in society have changed and stayed the same over this time period. Research has been undertaken with Theatre Royal’s Heritage Officer, Public Records Office resources and aged newspaper cuttings from the Bury Free Press – all informing the story that has been created.
The members have devised the piece and Associate Artist and Playwright Danusia Iwaszko has taken the characters and ideas and created an original and very special show, ably assisted by Let’s Praise, the community orchestra, who have partnered with us on this occasion.
This is a celebration of the people and the work of the theatre in the community for the past four years and it is with immense pleasure and pride that Theatre Royal invite you to an evening, performed by the people from these groups, full of music and song, poetry, drama and even humour!
Participants describe the experience as
‘a process of discovery based on acceptance of self, others and self-expression. I like it because it’s so so exciting … so encouraging to see people grow and to stretch their own boundaries…How adventurous we can be…and the creative qualities that are within them…The benefits are about discovering a positivity within one-self and the breadth of expression we are capable of with awareness and without fear of being wrong’.
‘…even though people come from a different range of experience – when we are together – it feels like we are all equal.’
‘You don’t have to be good at acting and you don’t have to want to be an actor- but as long as you want to have fun you should join a theatre group – there’s so many other things that come with it like confidence’.
This unique project has been made possible by the commitment of our acting company who we celebrate and admire for going on this creative journey. Twenty two participants have been involved in this creative process since October 2018 and a nine will perform on stage bringing their unique voices and talents to Theatre Royal stage. We now have scripts and have begun the rehearsal process and would thank our partners for the trust they have placed in us and thank funders for their vision in supporting this project and going on this journey with over the past four years.
Lucinda Meredith & Danusia Iwaszko