Saturday, September 23, 2017
Greenwich Theatre column with James Haddrell

Greenwich Theatre column with James Haddrell

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This week I am on the hunt for a business partner to support a programme of theatre workshops for teenagers and for older people in the boroughs of Greenwich and Lewisham.

I am targeting those who may not have regular access to arts activity because of the often prohibitive costs or simply because the opportunity has not come up in their lives – but I have an offer in return.

An actress in The Secret Keeper
An actress in The Secret Keeper

In October, Clerkinworks Theatre are bringing their new show, The Secret Keeper, to Greenwich.

This is an exciting moment for me. Company founder Angela Clerkin has had an astonishing career which has included working as an associate artist with international theatre heavyweights Improbable Theatre, but despite being a Greenwich resident, she has never brought a show to Greenwich Theatre.

The Secret Keeper is an adult fairytale with four actors playing 40 characters, macabre puppets, funny songs and a murderous gothic heart.

The show tells the story of a young woman who wants to make her father happy. When he tells her his secret, a great weight lifts from his shoulders so, feeling jubilated, he invites the whole town to confide in his miraculous daughter.  But what happens when a murderer confesses – and who is to blame for the consequences?

Alongside the show, we are working with Angela to offer drama workshops about secrecy and its implications to teenagers and to older people at risk of isolation and loneliness, and we are looking for a local company to cover the £1,000 cost of that, so that there are no charges whatsoever to the participants.

However, as well as the positive profile associated with supporting the workshops, Angela will come and lead a workshop for staff at no extra cost.

This is a unique opportunity for a local business. Described as “shatteringly brilliant” by The Stage newspaper, Angela has worked with business clients from HSBC to the Chartered Institute of Arbitration & Mediation.

She can offer specific corporate workshops in public speaking or can bring something fun to your team around comedy improvisation, devising theatre or even pitching a Hollywood film.

This is a great example of the links that can exist between the arts, the local community and the business sector.

There are few people who would dispute the fact that the arts enhances our society and, working together, arts organisations like Clerkinworks and local businesses can enhance each other’s skills and generate additional benefits for our wider community.

I have worked with children from primary to secondary school age, with teenagers struggling to engage with formal education and with older people who are often financially limited and settling into inactive and solitary lifestyles.

The increase in confidence, the social activity and the fun involved for each of those groups of people, not to mention the enhanced employment skills for teenagers who otherwise would not have the opportunity to participate in the arts, has been incredible.

I hope we can find a partner for this and to bring the fun of the arts into another Greenwich or Lewisham workplace.

If you can help, please, email me at j.haddrell@greenwichtheatre.org.uk.

James Hadrell is the artistic director and executive director of Greenwich Theatre

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Greenwich Theatre column with James Haddrell