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Chickenshed theatre company celebrate 50 years of performance

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Chickenshed theatre company celebrate 50 years of performance

Details have been revealed for Chickenshed’s 50th year celebrations…

Originally founded in a disused chicken shed in 1974, the North London Theatre has since become an internationally recognised, industry leader in inclusive theatre, education and outreach. Providing ground-breaking opportunities for children, young people and adults from every walk of life, Chickenshed continues to work towards a more tolerant and diverse society through performing arts and education.

As part of Chickenshed’s 50th year celebrations, the company will embark on a new heritage project, Echoes, which will keep alive the stories of those who have contributed to Chickenshed’s past, and preserve Chickenshed’s heritage for future generations to come.

Echoes will culminate in a film documentary capturing the 50-year history and heritage of the organisation. The documentary, Wonder out of Chaos, will include testimonies from ambassadors Simon Callow, Dame Judi Dench, Jamie Demetriou and Sir Derek Jacobi.

2024 also marks 16 years of Chickenshed’s groundbreaking outreach programme Crime of the Century.

Head of Education Programmes and Outreach, Jojo Morrall:

“We create an inclusive space – not where we change people to be better- but where they can be the best versions of themselves. Education should not be “top down” or “bottom up”. It should be a sharing of experiences, practices and knowledge – where everyone in the space can be affected and inspired. Chickenshed education succeeds because our young people are desperate to overcome barriers, graduate and enter society empowered, inspired and ready to change the world.”

Crime of the Century explores the consequences of youth social exclusion, and how this exclusion can result in gang-related youth violence. The raw piece of theatre was devised in 2008 prompted by the murder of three boys who had all been connected to Chickenshed Theatre. Crime of the Century has been seen by 750,000 people in over 750 venues across the entire UK including schools, prisons, theatres, young offenders institutions, pupil referral units, community venues and conferences.

In tandem with the play, the Crime of the Century team delivers workshops to community groups. In their 50th year, Chickenshed will be presenting Crime of the Century: Performance and Panel on 31 July. This brings together 16 years of participants to reflect on how youth exclusion has changed since the programme’s inception in 2008. As part of the evening there will be networking opportunities, performance of Crime of the Century, a video presentation and panel discussion. Chickenshed’s outreach programme continues to educate, inspire and empower individuals of all ages, abilities and cultural backgrounds.

Michael Bossisse, Creative Producer – Outreach:

“We cannot change the world by staying in our comfort zone here at the theatre – all young people have a voice that should be heard. So, if they cannot come to us, we will go to them. Hard to reach areas are not hard to reach. People sometimes avoid these areas because what they have to say is hard to hear. We want to hear. Our Theatre in Inclusive Education programme is so successful because we do not claim to know all the answers. We respect young people’s experiences as a vital part of who they are. Their vision changes our vision.”

In 2023, Chickenshed was awarded Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework for Higher Education, the highest award available. Characterised by inclusive application frameworks that values commitment to performing arts and the Chickenshed community, over entry-level qualifications, the education programme has transformed the lives of many individuals.

Paul Morrall, Director of Education and Training:

“Chickenshed celebrates its 50th year being named a Centre of Excellence in Inclusive practice. All of our students and Outreach groups have inspired these developments past, present and future.

​”We consciously seek platforms for our young people to speak from and we do not wait for this to happen by chance. Finding voices overlooked by society and giving them platforms to change the world drives our practice. Chickenshed will never rest on its laurels and say that we have arrived on our inclusive journey, because there are always individuals for us to inspire and who want to inspire us. That is our vision – a never ending journey to a constantly evolving destination.”

At the organisation’s half century, Chickenshed continues to provide hands-on opportunities for students to train in a professional theatre, with courses like a BTEC Level 3 in Performing Arts Practice, a Foundation Degree and a BA (Hon) in Inclusive Performance available. The education programme has a 98% pass rate, and applications are now open for September 2024’s intake.

Beginning as a theatre space in 1974, Chickenshed also continues to provide year-round artistic programming. Staged work is typically written, directed and performed by the educators and participants in the Chickenshed community. Encapsulating everything that Chickenshed represents, the We Are Chickenshed Gala in July will showcase the diverse, courageous and life-changing work that defines Chickenshed.

As part of the 50th year and voted for by the Chickenshed community, this year their Christmas show is Pan which will play from November, with public booking open 20th May.

Every year, Chickenshed supports over 15,000 children and young people, with over 60% of that community facing isolation due to mental/physical health, bullying, disabilities, or caregiving roles. Chickenshed becomes their sanctuary and their second home.

Louise Perry, Managing Director:

“This year’s Christmas Show will provide the perfect vehicle for cross-generation co-creation. Decorated with the fingerprints of hundreds of cast members from previous decades, Pan will carry us into the next half century of excellence without exclusion”


LISTINGS

We Are Chickenshed Gala 

Thursday 18 July and Friday 19 July, 6.30pm – 10.30pm, Tickets: £17 – £40

www.chickenshed.org.uk/events/we-are-chickenshed-gala 


Crime of the Century: Performance and Panel

Wednesday 31 July, 6pm – 9pm

www.chickenshed.org.uk/events/crimeofthecentury


PAN

Wednesday 20 November – Saturday 11 January, Evenings at 7pm, Matinees at 3pm, Sunday performances at 1.30pm and 5.30pm

Schools weekday performances see website

www.chickenshed.org.uk/events/pan


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