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Creative Matters

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What are the human factors that contribute to homelessness and how can the stigma around it be removed? Those are the questions at the core of the first Creative Matters season of 2019 at Norwich Theatre Royal.

Using a mix of performances, exhibitions and workshops, the season aims to explore the reasons behind why people lose the roof over their head, the social issues that contribute to that and the challenges around accessing support.

One of the key parts of it will be a brand new verbatim play Street Life inspired by real-life stories of homeless people from around Norfolk. Researchers have already gathered some real-life stories and these will be woven into the production which will be premiered in Stage Two on February 27-28.

It aims to explore the reality of life for people in that situation and will be written by Norfolk-based James McDermott, who is already well-known for his work including Rubber Ring, the story of a young gay man in North Norfolk which has been performed around the country. The production is currently being worked on but will feature a mix of live performance, music and digital imagery.

And the search is on for actors to be part of the production. James is looking for

Character 1: Young adult male

Character 2: Young adult female

Character 3: Older adult male

Character 4: Older adult female

Auditions will be held on January 11, with call-backs on January 16. The rehearsal period begins on January 25 and runs through until the show opens. To apply for an audition place, please email a CV and headshot to  r.lloyd@theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk by 5pm on Friday January 4.

The play is just one element of this latest Creative Matters season which aims to explore topical issues creatively within a safe space.

Sponsored by Broadland Housing Group, it will see Norwich Theatre Royal work with a range of community partners, health and support organisations, artists and arts organisations which also include YMCA Norwich and St Martin’s Housing.

Also being performed is the play What Goes On In Front Of Closed Doors which enjoyed a critically-acclaimed run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The solo show, which is performed on Friday February 15, tells the story of Molly who loses her home and faces the challenge of knowing where to go, how to get back on her feet and deal with danger.

Taking on the role is the show’s co-creator Emma Bentley. She trained at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts and has been a member of the Soho Theatre Young Company since 2015. Her debut solo show, To She Or Not To She, which she wrote and starred in, won critical acclaim and also got the Special Commendation for Solo Performance from the National Student Drama Festival.

Meanwhile Friday February 8 will see author Kerry Hudson In Conversation. Her book Lowborn will be published in May 2019 and sees her revisit her childhood in some of Britain’s most deprived towns. Always on the move with her single mother, she attended nine primary schools and five secondary schools living in bed-and-breakfasts and council flats.

Twenty years later, her life is unrecognisable as a prizewinning novelist who has travelled the world. Although she has a secure home and a loving partner, she still finds herself looking over her shoulder caught between two worlds.

She will share her experiences from the book which saw her revisiting those places as she tries to discover what being poor in Britain means and what has changed over the last 20 years.

In addition, Tuesday 19 February will see a screening of the film A Street Cat Named Bob which is certificate 12A. Based on the best-selling book, Luke Treadaway (Unbroken, Clash of the Titans) plays young homeless busker James Bowen who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a stray ginger cat Tom which ends up changing his life.

Throughout the month, there will also be an exhibition of paintings by Norwich University of the Arts graduate Devin Smith. She crafted a series of portraits of homeless people from the city in order to bring to life the humanity of people who can often be forgotten. The exhibition will be on display in the Theatre Royal, Playhouse and Stage Two across the season.

Michael Newey, chief executive of Broadland Housing Group, said: “We are delighted to be able to sponsor this innovative programme with Norwich Theatre Royal highlighting the sadly increasing numbers of homelessness in our region.  Broadland are a passionate supporter in the fight to end homelessness and are excited to be working with the Theatre. We hope that the month-long programme will help tackle the sadly growing issue of homelessness in our region by engaging audiences in a new way”

Sam Patel, Norwich Theatre Royal community participation manager, added: “February’s season will reveal stories as to how people come to be homeless. With homelessness drastically increasing over the last few years, we hope to highlight the vulnerability we all potentially face with a sudden change in circumstance that can change the course of someone’s life. ”

For further information about the season and to book, log onto ntr.org.uk/CreativeMatters.