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Creating theatre in unexpected places: Delapré Abbey announces new residency with Warts and All Theatre

    Warts and All Theatre, a leading cutting-edge theatre company, that enables everyone to speak their truth, has been unveiled as Delapré Abbey’s new resident theatre company.

    Over a three-year period, Warts and All Theatre will create dynamic programmes that will unite young people from all walks of life. Together they will perform, direct and engage in life-changing extraordinary theatre; loud productions on the Abbey’s lawns, thought-provoking young actor workshops, not-your-average holiday programmes, and energetic activities for older generations and young families.

    As part of its residency, from September, Warts and All Theatre will also move into offices tucked inside the 12th-century Northampton abbey, creating a new headquarters.

    Richard Clinton, Chief Executive of Delapré Abbey, said: “We are very excited to announce this partnership, which signifies and symbolises our vision for the Abbey – to serve our communities by providing accessible and relevant culture and heritage for all.

    We are based in the Delapré and Far Cotton area of Northampton, where there are high levels of deprivation and inequality, so Warts and All Theatre’s focus on communities, regardless of their background and status, and its new ‘Pay On Your Terms’ model aligns perfectly with the Abbey.

    Christopher Elmer-Gorry, Artistic and Executive Director of Warts and All Theatre, added: “Warts and All Theatre is all about making extraordinary theatre in unexpected places with everyone. We don’t discriminate, we give everyone a voice and a chance, and we want everyone to speak their truth. That’s why this partnership with Delapré Abbey makes sense. It will give us a unique base to lead a radical programme that will provoke, champion diversity, and importantly, give young people from across our local communities an environment to thrive.

    Our new ‘Pay On Your Terms’ payment plan that we are introducing from September, will now also give everyone the chance to join one of our programmes, regardless of their circumstances. By working in partnership with local schools and Delapré Abbey, we hope to extend our programmes, and reach as many people as possible in the coming months.”

    Participants of Warts and All Theatre programmes are also excited.

    Shawne Holland, 18 from Far Cotton said: “Delapré Abbey is a beautiful space in the community. Warts and All Theatre using the space will attract young people, meaning they get to work in and appreciate the Abbey if they haven’t before.

    Destiny Sanyaolu, 20 from Kingsley said: “I’m so excited. Finally, we will have a space of our own with no interruptions or limitations, which feels like a sign that we as a group will be capable of doing so much more than before. This change is a sign of freedom, especially after the trying times we have had in 2020; a reminder that there are people looking out for us and wanting the best for us.

    Over the past five months, Warts and All Theatre has been running online masterclasses with some of the leading lights in the theatre world such as Adrian Lester, Benjamin Zephaniah, Sally Cookson, Rob Brydon and Julie Walters, as well as virtual co-created plays and online acting training sessions. These programmes have meant that young people have continued to have the chance to share their experiences and express themselves during lockdown.

    From September, Warts and All Theatre will be launching a new series of programmes including their already popular Young Actors sessions for Young People aged 4-21, a youth social action group funded through Northamptonshire Community Foundation’s #IWill fund, and a new wellbeing programme for young families and older people, which aims to increase local residents’ sense of belonging through therapeutic arts activities. This wellbeing strand of work builds on the company’s successful programme delivered online during COVID-19.

    Christopher continues: “Both organisations are passionate about the Abbey becoming a home for the community to thrive, and we both believe that the new wellbeing programme will provide opportunities to combat social isolation for some of the most vulnerable who are on the Abbey’s doorstep.

    Warts and All Theatre are now recruiting for their activities at the Abbey and everyone can register their interest by visiting https://www.wartsandalltheatre.co.uk/interest

    Photo: Kitty Benford, Joe Kerry, Christopher Elmer-Gorry, Esther Goodger, Richard Clinton, Meryl Couper and Kate Hearn.

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