Community theatre & plays
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Hastings, Rotherham, Merseyside, Bromley, Portsmouth, Margate, Gdansk, Withernsea, Heronsgate, Stirchley, Liverpool, Slade Green, Hertfordshire, Thurrock, Bromford, Ostrava,

Community plays are theatre of the people, by the people, for the people.

Parrabbola brings together independent arts and cultural practitioners who draw on local stories and uses participants from that community to tell them. Communities are the heartbeat of Parrabbola. Every community play or event is crafted to that community, in the UK, Europe or internationally, because every community is different.

Productions mostly take place beyond regular theatres, inhabiting spaces with a connection to the community. Parrabbola spans the generations with its community theatre work. Stagings are designed for family audiences who may have little experience of theatre going.

Diving Through Time
The centrepiece of the ArtsGenerate programme in Thurrock, Parrabbola project managed and developed Diving Through Time, an 18-month programme of workshops leading to the final production, Parrabbola's most elaborate community play. (+)

With a cast of 50 performers and five professional actors, Diving through Time was site specific, taking place as a promenade production in and around Tilbury Fort, with English Heritage as key partner. Scenes were staged on water, in buildings and on stages built on lorries, which were driven into the fort during the performance.

Following the production, both the acting company and writers have continued as new community groups (-)

Brighter than the Moon
A year-long programme in 2007, produced in collaboration with the African Women's Forum in Portsmouth, Breaking the Chains celebrated the 200th anniversary of the bill to abolish the North Atlantic slave trade. (+)

Parrabbola produced a series of large, public intervention performances
throughout the year including a slave auction presented at Gun Wharf Quays shopping complex and a service recreating the emancipation celebrations of 1838 in the West Indies performed at Portsmouth Cathedral. A street theatre piece, HMS Black Joke played in front of HMS Victory at the Historic Dockyard. A community play, Brighter than the Moon, performed to full houses at New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth.

The production was a major sharing of knowledge and experience, with a cast of
50 performers drawn from culturally diverse communities.

In keeping with the Parrabbola style of audience interaction, various areas of the theatre became performance spaces, with the stalls converted to represent the hold of a slave ship, and the audience 'captured' by the cast during the performance. (-)

The Winter's Tale - Ostrava and Gdansk
As the only UK member of the European Shakespeare Festivals Network, Parrabbola has produced three Shakespeare plays in Poland, including a community staging of Pericles in Gdansk. (+)

With a creative team and actors from the UK, working with community actors from Poland and the Czech Republic, in 2012 Parrabbola staged The Winter's Tale, for the festivals in Ostrava and Gdansk.

A site-specific, promenade production in three languages,
The Winter's Tale is performed and directed so that all audiences can understand the action even if they do not understand every word. (-)

Pericles and The Tempest - Gdansk
Funded by the European Union, Parrabbola developed a site-specific, community production of Shakespeare's Pericles, around Gdansk, part of the Shakespeare Festival there in 2010 and the first community play in Poland. (+)

Involving local participants alongside performers from the UK and Romania
the production explored the outsider in society. This Pericles was the first community play in Poland and a film of the project won the jury prize and public vote at Movisie International Art and Culture Film Festival: Pericles Film Prizes

For the Gdansk Shakespeare Festival in 2009, a co-production with experimental media theatre company Lightwork, The Tempest as a work-in-progress used sound and video to explore observation and surveillance in an interpretation of Shakespeare's play. (-)

The Holderness Saga
Parrabbola's first major community play was about Withernsea, a village near Hull in East Yorkshire, now badly run down, suffering from the threat of sea erosion with problems of youth unemployment and drugs. (+)

A snapshot of one thousand years,
the play had a two-year preparation process, with workshops to develop performance skills. These generated 60 cast members aged from 8 to 75 years. Anyone who auditioned received a role.

Very few participants had been involved in theatre before. Parrabbola worked also with a group of older men with learning difficulties and limited social interaction. This casting principle is one Parrabbola believes essential to community play work - the play should be written for the participants.

The group continues to run arts projects, both in theatre and elsewhere, to the benefit of the area. (-)

Walking on the Sun
A major community project with a cast of 70, orchestra of 30 and professional technical and design team, Walking on the Sun was a new millennium musical celebrating the history and people of Rotherham. (+)

With substantial local authority backing and Arts Council England funding the cast was drawn mainly from the strong amateur theatre companies in Rotherham, with an additional focus on drawing in disadvantaged young people.

Performances were given in the Mamaloucos Theatre Tent in Clifton Park and as part of the Our Town Story series at the Millennium Dome in 2000.

The opportunity to perform at a high level and the mentoring element of the rehearsal process has meant that several young performers have gone on to further vocational training , including one boy who has taken up a career in dance. (-)

The Scouse Operas
The Wedding was an immersive event theatre piece, set within a wedding reception that reflected the experiences of workers at the Price's candle factory near Liverpool that had recently closed.

The production moved the audience from room to room at a well-known function venue as guests following the course of a wedding reception - with flashbacks to events in the couple's lives and the history of their families. (+)

Parrabbola produced this work for the Aspire Trust as the first of a series of annual community Scouse Operas, working in the five boroughs of Merseyside, designed to build on local, longstanding political theatre and to celebrate local cultures, dialects and languages.

Land of Liberty
Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Parrabbola produced a community play based around the history of the first Chartist settlement at Heronsgate in Hertfordshire, (+)
juxtaposing that with contemporary issues around the right to protest. The production was developed over two years and staged in 2011.

"I would like to congratulate you and your team and all who took part in the Community Play, the Land of Liberty. It was a vibrant and accurate account of the Chartist Movement and the Land Settlements. It was a real credit to everyone involved."
Local historian from Rickmansworth

"I really enjoyed Land of Liberty and thought it was a great success in not only achieving its community aims but telling a tale clearly and well! The approach to theatre was also very much to my taste! Many thanks."
Audience member from Shropshire

"[The cast] did the excellent play proud, our history came to life, in such a great setting, not forgetting the wonderful music and song!"
Audience member

"I LOVED IT AND I WANT TO DO IT AGAIN. No. 1: I loved all the people in Land of liberty. No. 2: I learnt a lot of things about my area. No. 3: I loved the props and costumes. No. 4: I learned how to skip. The one thing that I did not like was... NOTHING - I LOVED IT ALL!!!"
(Cast member aged 13) (-)