While the Woolwich Grand is now a thing of the past, and the Woolwich Cultural District is scheduled to appear some time in the future, there is nevertheless an ambitious theatre sitting right in the heart of Woolwich and beginning to attract major theatre companies alongside a programme of community engagement.
Bathway Theatre, the converted swimming baths that house the University of Greenwich’s Drama Department, is now home to WHAT ABOUT US, a packed programme of shows and participatory events supported by the Royal Greenwich Community Arts Fund which see the venue throwing open its doors to the wider public.
The impressive list of free performances includes a special preview of the award-winning My Love Lies Frozen In The Ice by Dead Rabbits Theatre Company (25 July) ahead of a run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Set in 1897, the show follows the fortunes of three explorers who make a perilous journey to the North Pole in a hot air balloon – and of the woman driven mad by her exclusion from the adventure. The company’s offbeat combination of humour and heart has led to awards in both Canada and the UK – most recently, the company won the 2019 Les Enfants Terribles/Greenwich Theatre Partnership Award, beating over 100 emerging theatre companies to secure a package of support for their Edinburgh Festival show.
Dead Rabbits Theatre Company have already featured in the season of free performance with a public sharing of work in development for the company’s new Arts Council supported show, Some Light Entertainment In These Troubled Times, alongside ChiffChaff Children’s Theatre with their double-bill of stage adaptations of stories by Jill Murphy – Peace At Last and Whatever Next. Murphy is best known as writer of the Worst Witch series of books which has sold more than 4 million copies.
The programme has also already featured a programme of music and spoken word workshops for local young people, and a free storytelling event run by Black Female Entrepreneur Greenwich (BFEG) as part of the borough’s first Africa Festival later this summer with .
“This is just the start of the conversation in embedding Bathway Theatre in the local community” said Dave Hockham, What About Us project lead for University of Greenwich. “This first programme of free activity delivered with partners from the Royal Borough of Greenwich, Galeforce Productions Universal Ltd and the ROMEL Foundation, will see Bathway Theatre working in harmony with other cultural activities already happening in the Woolwich and around the borough, as well as complementing our drama undergraduate programme and wider university activity.”
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