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When Politics and Economics F*** up, It's Time for Art and Culture to Step-Up

07/07/2016 13:53

Writer: Tony McBride, adapted from the teleplay by Jeremy Sandford
Director: Tony McBride
Choreographer: Sarah Levinsky
Composer: Ronaldo

Fifty years ago, Ken Loach's TV drama Cathy Come Home was broadcast on the BBC. Horrified and shocked viewers watched one family's downward spiral into the cruel, unforgiving and dark world of homelessness. Half a Century later one would expect that Cathy's world would not be relevant in today's society. However, Cardboard Citizens Street to Stage adaption highlights the heartbreaking truth that Cathy's story is just as relevant today as it was 50 years ago.

This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the theatre company Cardboard Citizens. For one night only, on Tuesday 5 July, Cardboard Citizens presented a theatrical restaging of Cathy Come Home at the Barbican in London.

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We performed as a 22 community ensemble drawn from Cardboard Citizens' members, all of us who have experienced homelessness and rough sleeping, Directed by Tony McBride.

As a 22-strong cast we re-created the original work with power and passion. The audience were taken into a world world of tenement blocks, caravan sites, low grade hostels highlighting that there exists in local authorities a punitive attitude towards homeless families which means that the problem of homeless families is the cinderella of cinderellas.

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The gritty performance was followed by a panel discussing the question: "Homelessness 50 years on - what's changed?" The panel featured Ken Loach; BBC journalist Samira Ahmed; the chief executive of Shelter, Campbell Robb; the artistic director and chief executive of Cardboard Citizens, Adrian Jackson; and the singer-songwriter Eska.

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Adrian Jackson said: "It is so appropriate for us to be putting Cathy Come Home on stage as Cardboard Citizens celebrates its 25th anniversary year - art really does make a difference, as proven by Ken Loach 50 years ago. This community show represents an incredible journey for a number of our members, from weeks of rehearsing in our workshop space in Whitechapel to performing on stage at the Barbican. We hope this production will challenge public perceptions of what homeless people can do, given the chance."

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Loach also argued, with practical political sense, that it is not enough simply to build more houses: there has to be a plan in which homes are created where there is work.

Following a theatrical staging of the film at the Barbican, the company will take the brand new production of Cathy to theatres, prisons and hostels across the country between October and February.

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