Harlow-based company announce online launch for ‘prologue’ theatre-dance piece from Rhiannon Faith looking at loneliness

Communities / Tue 30th Jun 2020 at 10:34am

DROWNTOWN, the new show from Rhiannon Faith Company (based at Harlow Playhouse), was set to tour this spring/summer including two shows at Harlow Playhouse on 24 June prior to a run at London’s Barbican, but for due to Covid19 all that has been postponed until 2021 (when it is hoped the Barbican dates can be rescheduled).

Set in an unnamed deprived coastal town, DROWNTOWN looks at six strangers weighed down by individual darkness in the seemingly abandoned town. Stuck between the remains of a broken community and the vast bleakness of the sea, they struggle with isolation, loneliness, shame and failed support systems.

Sound familiar? Created before Covid19 and lockdown changed our lives completely, the show nevertheless has an uncanny relevance to the new normal we have been struggling to get used to.

To bridge the gap, Faith has created DROWNTOWN LOCKDOWN, a digital prologue film. In this we meet the cast of DROWNTOWN in their own homes, before they leave for the beach, the setting for the show. Loneliness, involuntary isolation and the difficulty of leaving the house are all sensitively explored in this poignant, specially created piece.

‘There was an obvious disappointment that the tour was postponed’ said Rhiannon ‘but the themes and issues it explores have such a similarity to those that are affecting so many people during the lockdown that I wanted to get something out there that works in the current context but will remain relevant in the future.’

Dark, uncompromising and moving, yet accessible, tender and physically stunning, DROWNTOWN and DROWNTOWN LOCKDOWN continue the vein of gritty dance-theatre from this radical choreographer. Bold and brave, at times bleak (in keeping with its subject matter), the shows use autobiographical testimonials and text to give voice to the vulnerable and unheard in modern Britain’s areas of social deprivation. Before creating the show Rhiannon undertook extensive research in several areas in the region including Jaywick, Clacton-on-Sea and Great Yarmouth, all places with a strong sense of community and identity but also some of the highest levels of social and economic deprivation in the UK.

Social exclusion and isolation are rife in such places with their lack of frequent and reliable public transport and high-speed internet. Recent research suggests that loneliness can increase the risk of premature death by 30%. Nine million people in the UK say they often feel lonely, 7% of 18-64 year olds feel socially isolated, rising to 11% for over 65s.

DROWNTOWN LOCKDOWN will be launched on Thursday 9 July at 8pm via www.facebook.com/RhiannonFaithCo and also www.facebook.com/harlowplayhouse The film (15 mins) will be screened followed by the trailer for the stage show (1 min) and a Q&A discussion with Rhiannon, DROWNTOWN LOCKDOWN Director Adam Sheldon and selected cast members. Following this the film will be available to watch at www.rhiannonfaith.com

The company is also planning DROWNTOWN Solo Stories for the tour, a community engagement project for people who experience social isolation. DROWNTOWN LOCKDOWN will include #VIRUSVULNERABILITIES, a series of creative task video workshops available to the public. These will guide and support people to make their own digital Solo Story contributions around the themes of the show.

‘raw, eloquent with a final note of hope’ Luke Jennings, The Observer on Smack That (a conversation)

‘dance, participatory theatre and awareness-raising in one welcoming package … a party game to help change the world’ ★★★★ The Guardian on Smack That (a conversation)

‘Inventive and demanding, immersive … a work of urgent importance.’ ★★★★ The Stage on Smack That (a conversation)

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