Theatre for the community
An outreach programme run by the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds is helping vulnerable people in the community share their stories through theatre.
The Associate Artists programme is headed up by Lucinda Meredith and Danusia Iwaszko, who are freelancers from the town.
“We work all over the county with various theatres and projects, but this is our hometown so we’re very passionate about the work we do here,” said playwright Danusia.
Over the last three years, the pair have worked with thousands of people through groups within the community, including the Women’s Aid Centre, the YMCA, the Bury drop-in centre and Focus12.
Lucinda said: “The Theatre Royal is a cultural community venue which prioritises this as well as its youth theatre group and school programme.
“We work with people who haven’t been able to have arts or creative experiences since school who all have different obstacles in their lives at this particular point.
“You see people who previously felt isolated come together and that’s what the Theatre Royal and this programme is all about.”
Both women identified the scheme, which depends on funding from Bury St Edmunds Town Council, St Edmundsbury Community Chest, Suffolk Community Foundation and Cllr Julia Wakelam among others, as something that has become an integral part of the lives of those who take part.
“The feedback we receive is amazing,” said Danusia. “We’ve had someone say that the workshops saved her life and some that have reconnected with family through their works.
“It’s all about self-reflection, self-expression and allowing our voices to be heard. It’s wonderful to do that.”
They also said that using their theatre workshops to make a change in the wider community was the driving factor behind their work.
“The performances that have been born out of these sessions have influenced how sector workers approach and deal with certain problems in the community and we always have people leaving the show and asking ‘what can we do to help?’” said Danusia.
“That’s how powerful theatre can be.”
If you would like to support the Associate Artists Programme, contact Julia Read at Theatre Royal on 01284 829942 or email firstname.lastname@example.org