Two accomplished artists are joining forces with local community groups to help get their stories onto the Bush Theatre stage.
The new project – launched by the Bush Theatre – will see an artistic surge in the borough as the community groups develop stage-ready performances with the help of artists who have worked with theatres including the Old Vic and Royal Court.
“It’s fantastic to see the Bush Theatre bringing the local community together on stage,” said Cllr Andrew Jones, H&F Cabinet Member for the Economy and the Arts.
“Schemes like this are at the heart of our Arts Strategy as we aim to boost the borough’s already thriving arts scene so all residents regardless of their background can get involved.”
The council’s Arts Strategy (pdf 627KB) aims to make H&F an international beacon for the arts.
The Barons Court Project Women’s Group and Masbro Centre Tea Club have been chosen as the Bush Theatre’s new community associate companies and are working towards a centrepiece project to be showcased at the theatre next year.
Holly Smith, the Bush Theatre’s community producer, said: “This is such an exciting project because it allows the Bush to create deep, meaningful and long-lasting relationships with our communities.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to influence the artistic work of the Bush, as well as highlighting the voices of communities that are often not heard.
“The participants take a lot of ownership over the direction the project goes in which is a really special process to see and be a part of.”
Baron’s Court Project Women’s Group
In the coming six months, the Barons Court Project Women’s Group – part of the drop-in day centre for people who are homeless or living with mental health issues in H&F – will work with artist Katie Duncan to create an artistic legacy.
The scriptwriter and musician, who has worked on projects at the Old Vic Theatre, Roundhouse and Wigmore Hall, as well as featuring at Glastonbury festival, said she was ‘excited at establishing a long-term creative relationship with the Barons Court Project Women's Group’.
“I'm hugely looking forward to supporting and collaborating with the participants throughout the entire process, so it becomes a fun, joyful experience where they feel inspired and empowered - both individually and as a whole group - building towards a strong sense of unity, confidence, and creative ownership over the final centrepiece project,” added Katie.
The female-only group will get together for a workshop each month as part of the artistic process but will also have the chance to attend cultural trips such as exhibitions and talks as part of the project.
Poppy Sharkey, project worker at The Barons Court Project, said: “We are excited to see the voices of the group expressed in a creative way, while improving the group members’ confidence and skills, and creating a lasting relationship with the Bush Theatre.”
Masbro Tea Club
Meanwhile, a group of older people from the Masbro Centre Tea Club in Hammersmith will be led by artist William Hudson, who has previously collaborated with international performers including the National Theatre of Spain and Theatre du Soleil, as well as working with theatres including the Old Vic and Kiln.
The Masbro Centre Tea Club is set to explore the theme of ‘home’ in the coming months, celebrating the group’s ‘amazing mixed heritage, language and stories’, said William.
Tina Wood, Elders Project Manager at Masbro Centre Tea Club, said the group was ‘honoured’ to be part of the scheme.
“We hope our Community Associate Company status will raise the profile of our Elders Project in the community, enable our elders to become more visible, raise awareness of the work we do with older people, encourage others to value our work and assist us with fundraising for future projects,” she explained.
The Bush is also working with aspiring playwrights this year after launching a free group for new writers in west London and is running a scheme to offer free tickets to young people.
The projects are part of an initiative by the theatre in Uxbridge Road, Shepherds Bush, to engage with the local community as its new artistic director Lynette Linton took the reins this year.
A total of 1,000 free tickets will be on offer to Londoners aged under 26 to watch new play Level Up during its run from 1 May to 6 June next year.
Want to read more news stories like this? Subscribe to our weekly e-news bulletin.