Camden People’s Theatre are breaking out the c-word with a new fortnight-long festival of works that asks questions about class.
In August 2017, a Labour party report criticised working-class under-representation in the arts, and demanded the cultural sector work harder to fill the “class-shaped hole” in their audience and workforce.
Is working-class ‘cool’ again? Or is that a smokescreen for never-ending austerity: the most sustained attack on people with low incomes in living memory? Is there ‘a class-shaped hole’ in the diversity debate – and what can we do to plug it? Who gets to tell working-class stories, and who gets to watch them?
Headlining the festival is award-winning poet and theatre-maker Jackie Hagan’s This Is Not a Safe Space, a solo show examining the harsh effects of benefit cuts on those on the margins of society with emphasis on class, disabilities and mental illness. Drawing on first-person interviews with over 80 people and using DIY Puppetry, poetry and standup comedy, Jackie Hagan brings their stories to the stage. Far from sob stories, these testimonies reveal fully rounded lives full of spikey humour.
Rebecca Atkinson-Lord will be back at CPT with The Class Project, a show about belonging, ‘making good’ and remembering your own voice. Other highlights include Libby Liburd, who follows her show Muvvahood with Temporary to explore the rise in temporary accommodation, and Scottee invites audiences to a Working Class Dinner Party to tuck into a takeaway and chew over ideas of working class identity.
Plus, a panel of experts including the sociologist Sam Friedman discuss the persistence – or resurgence – of class inequality in the arts, ask what can be done about it and propose some radical solutions.
Artistic director Brian Logan says, “We’re all talking more and more about class, apparently. But who’s leading the conversation? Who’s dictating what we’re allowed to say? Our new Common People festival is proudly led by working-class artists and working-class voices, taking apart the idea that working-class is cool again, exploring the reality of being working-class in modern Britain – and in its theatre. First and foremost a ‘people’s theatre’, CPT is committed to class diversity on its stage, behind the scenes and in its audience, and we can’t wait to be galvanised, inspired – and entertained – by the stories these extraordinary artists are coming here to tell.“