The Royal Shakespeare Company is collaborating for the first time with Cardboard Citizens, the UK's only homeless people's professional theatre company, to present Shakespeare's Pericles in a warehouse off the Old Kent Road from 22 July.
"On paper it may seem a curious collision", says Adrian Jackson, who will be directing the production, "but here we are, and it should be exciting. I am looking forward to the tremendous expertise the RSC can bring to bear on the production, in terms of voice, verse and its vast experience of staging Shakespeare – and equally I am hoping that Cardboard Citizens' experience of site-specific work, and of less theatre-sophisticated audiences, can in turn have some effect on the RSC; something between a bit of rough and grit in the oyster."
Adrian and Clare looked at a lot of plays before settling on Pericles. Its themes of exile, loss and reunion seemed to be entirely pertinent to Cardboard Citizens, which attracts many people seeking refuge, whether from troubles at home or strife abroad.
In the Spring of this year, with an asylum seeker playing the lead role, a rapidly rehearsed cut-down version of Pericles was performed to audiences of asylum seekers and refugees in various unusual venues across the capital. The audiences included Iraqis, Kosovo Albanians, Kurds, Turks, Colombians, Iranians and people from various African countries. After the hour long show the audience members told their stories, stories of survival against the odds, stories of unbelievable pain, and stories of hope and endurances. The aim of this new production is to interweave some of these stories and others within a fuller version of Shakespeare's Pericles.
The role of Pericles will be taken by two actors: Kevork Malikyan as the older Pericles and Christopher Simpson as the younger Pericles. The cast also includes Dele Adagunodo, Kammy Darweish, Jo Galbraith, Jake Goode, Andy Haase, Jasmine Hyde, David Mara, Nick Payne, Dave Rodgers and Adna Sabli. The cast includes a mix of actors who have worked regularly with the RSC and Cardboard Citizens.
The play is being staged at The Warehouse, 5 Mandela Way (off Old Kent Road) between 22 July and 10 August – map here. Tickets (£8 and £14) are available from the Barbican box office, online (reduced booking fee) or from 0845 120 7543.
London SE1 website users can save £3 on full-price tickets (normally £14) for the following performances: 22, 23, 24 July at 7.45pm. To claim your discount, call 0845 120 7543 and quote "Save £3 Pericles Offer".