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Graeae's Reasons To Be Cheerful goes online

Graeae's Reasons to be Cheerful, 2017. Photo by Patrick Baldwin.

FOLLOWING the announcement of Graeae’s lockdown digital programme, Crips Without Constraints, the UK’s leading disabled-led theatre company has revealed that it will be releasing one of its biggest hits of recent years as a free-to-view online package this summer.

The acclaimed 2017 staging of their musical Reasons To Be Cheerful by Paul Sirett, with music by Ian Dury and The Blockheads, will be available for a strictly limited period from June 3 to August 3 at graeae.org/.

The video was filmed in front of a live audience at Theatre Royal Stratford in the autumn of that year as part of its national tour produced in association with The Belgrade Theatre Coventry.

Part gig, part play, Reasons To Be Cheerful tells a coming of age tale that rejoices in the infectious and enduring music of Ian Dury and the Blockheads. Featuring stone-cold classic songs including Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick; Plaistow Patricia; Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll; Sweet Gene Vincent; What A Waste and the titular Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3), Graeae Artistic Director, Jenny Sealey’s production is loud, bold and jubilant.

The show includes the new song If It Can’t Be Right Then It Must Be Wrong, a rousing protest song, highlighting the brutal cuts to the welfare system in recent years, which was written exclusively for the 2017 tour by members of Ian Dury’s band The Blockheads, Chaz Jankel and Derek Hussey and Graeae’s John Kelly.

Using Graeae’s signature theatrical language, the production seamlessly includes British Sign Language and creative captioning. A separate audio described version will also be available existing as a show in itself.

Reasons To Be Cheerful was first staged in 2010 and has since played at theatres and festivals across the UK, in stadiums around the world, and even in front of HRH The Queen. Spasticus Autisticus, the Ian Dury-penned disability rights anthem which features in the show, was performed by the cast at the London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony and, despite being banned by the BBC in 1981, broadcast worldwide in front of an audience of over one billion.

The cast comprises Stephen Collins, Joey Hickman, Beth Hinton-Lever, Stephen Lloyd, Gerard McDermott, Jude Mahon, Wayne ‘Pickles’ Norman, Max Runham and Karen Spicer. The onstage band comprises John Kelly on lead vocals, Paul Sirett (Guitar), Joey Hickman (keyboard), Nixon Rosembert (Bass), Louis Schultz-Wiremu (Saxophone) and Paula Stanbridge-Faircloth (Drums).

Jenny Sealey, Artistic Director of Graeae said:

“I am so very happy that we’re able to make the 2017 production of our beloved – and most well-known show Reasons to be Cheerful available to watch online. We’ve now staged the full show in the UK three times, toured the concert version round the world and had the cast perform Spasticus Autisticus in front of the Queen at the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony, but this is the first time it’s ever been available online in full.

“These are strange and unsettling times we’re living in, and we’ve never needed a Reason to be Cheerful more. Huge thanks to the cast, creative team and of course the fabulous Blockheads for allowing us to do this.”

Jemima Dury, daughter of Ian Dury said:

“Graeae’s Reasons to Be Cheerful has been part of my life for ten years now and I am overjoyed that it is going to be available online because when it’s not in production – I miss it! This is an exceptional cast of performers in a truly diverse and accessible show and is everything I love about fresh, forward thinking, inclusive theatre.

“I have no doubt that the show is going to virtually explode with energy from screens all over the world just like it brought the houses down with rapturous applause and standing ovations on every tour date since the Autumn of 2010. This is a wonderful tonic for tough times. I’m very excited. Enjoy!”

Reasons To Be Cheerful follows Crips Without Constraints – A Play, A Podcast, A Picture – a full eleven-week programme of online activity which provides audiences with a rich variety of work and celebrates the creativity of Deaf and disabled artists across the nation whilst the country is in lockdown. Crips Without Constraints runs to mid-June.

Image: Graeae’s Reasons to be Cheerful, 2017. Photo by Patrick Baldwin.