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Our Glass House - Camden People's Theatre

Our Glass House

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

CAMDEN People’s Theatre and Common Wealth are presenting the London debut of Our Glass House, the award-winning, site-specific Edinburgh fringe show exploring issues around domestic abuse – from November 11 to November 30, 2013.

Performances take place in a residential house near Camden People’s Theatre. Ticketholders should meet 15 minutes prior to the performance at Marquis Road/Cantelowes Road/Agar Grove off York Way, NW1 9UE.

Based on real life testimonies and an extensive research process, Common Wealth theatre company explore the issues of domestic abuse within the site-specific setting of a vacant house, re-imagining the format of issue-based theatre for a broad and diverse audience.

In a response to the recent spending cuts in women’s services, the work, which is co-produced in London by Camden People’s Theatre, focuses solely on the victims of abuse, exploring each character’s decision to stay or leave in multi-disciplinary style that is part-theatre, part-gig and part-exhibition.

After letting themselves into the house with a key, audiences are free to roam as the stories of six distinct characters unfold throughout the building simultaneously.

Kayleigh is seventeen and lives with her boyfriend, Nicola is seven months pregnant and newly married, Dan has two children with a violent girlfriend, Helen is in her seventies and has been married for forty years, Sufiya is from Pakistan and only speaks Punjabi, and Charlie is ten and his father has been violent and controlling since he was born.

Created in collaboration with visual artists, sound designers, illustrators and an animator, the piece embraces a multi-disciplinary style to communicate each narrative of control, fear, love and ultimately hope, through a universal and dynamic approach to storytelling.

Director Evie Manning said: “The idea for the piece emerged last year when an ambulance was called for my neighbour and her young son in the middle of the day and revealed all of the horrific abuse that she had been suffering for years, just on the other side of the wall. Her husband kept the house whilst she went into a refuge with her two young children, and no one on the street spoke about it again. It just seemed so unjust, and I was shocked at how taboo the issue was, even today.

“I then thought of working with Common Wealth’s distinctive immersive style to create an event that would not focus on the violence but would concentrate on the victims and their reasons for staying. We also didn’t want to make something ‘dark’, we knew from the beginning, that the piece would include song, choreography, visual art, animation and fantastical escapes that would celebrate the courage of each character leaving the house.

“I spoke about it with the company and it turned out we all had direct experience of domestic violence. We instantly became very passionately clear about the idea and started interviewing women and men we contacted through charities, and family and friends who had experienced abuse. The more interviews we did, the more vital the play became. We feel an immense responsibility to tell these stories with dignity, depth, beauty and even a little bit of magic (we worked with a magician on one of the scenes) because the courage of all the women and men we interviewed really stuck with us.”

Our Glass House comes to London following previous performances at the Edinburgh Fringe 2013 and in both Bradford and Bristol, where the show’s site-specific nature brought the performances into the heart of the communities in which they were based. The show is recast at each location with local actors, to echo the accents of those from the region.

Common Wealth is a political theatre company of artists, performers, educators, musicians, and carpenters, who create site-specific work to engage a diverse range of audiences. Our Glass House is the fourth full-scale work from the company, whose previous projects have transformed spaces ranging from a disused courtroom to a zip factory, each adhering to the company’s mission of creating relevant work that addresses current social and political concerns.

Researched and created by Evie Manning and Rhiannon White and written by Aisha Zia and The Company, Our Glass House has sound by Wojtek Rusin. Casting has yet to be announced.

Our Glass House is suitable for ages 15+.

Tickets: £10, £5 concessions – available from the box office on 08444 77 1000 or online at www.cptheatre.co.uk/.

Times: 3pm and 7.30pm.

Running Time: 1 hour 10 minutes (no interval).

For more information visit www.commonwealththeatre.co.uk/.