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The Old Vic

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The Old Vic 01

Kate Lawrence Lunniss, Community Manager at the Old Vic, talks about our work together to support creative expression.

This year, our Community Club is supported by Lambeth Council. Connect and Do applied to the programme and have been taking part, having previously taken part in an online programme during lockdown.

The Community Club involves us working with community groups across London four times a year for a pre-show workshop, followed by a visit to see the current Old Vic production for free. The workshops are an introduction into various topics or job roles in the theatre like choreography, storytelling or performing.

People also came to an Old Vic open day and backstage tour. In the last two weeks of July we’re doing a workshop around set design and then the group will come and see Groundhog Day. Every pre-show workshop is themed around the show that the group will be seeing so that it feels more accessible. We also try and shine light on an area in the creative industry participants may want to be a part of.

As an organisation with limited resources, working like this with existing community groups really helps us. We’re able to engage with people that might have an interest in theatre but need to build confidence before visiting or getting involved.

“We focus on boosting wellbeing and supporting each other to have fun. We want the Old Vic to feel like a place for everybody.” Kate Lawrence Lunniss, Community Manager.

We want to draw more people into the arts industry to inspire them to take part or visit more theatres. That’s primarily what this programme is all about – making theatre accessible for all.

The workshops aim to take down the barriers and inhibitions that people might feel when they first enter a workshop space. We want people to use their own ideas and bring their own thoughts into the workshops – to express their own stories or interpret ideas into their own movements and talk about their own experiences. Our facilitators work with the group to prompt creative ideas on movement or story or choreography, but just as a prompt to then inspire them to be able to gain confidence and contribute creatively. The group essentially are guided to collaborate together and have creative autonomy. We always try and do ‘share back’ at the end so people can show what they’ve created and feel a sense of achievement.

Everybody just brings something unique to the room. As adults, we don’t often get the chance to play and I think there’s something really therapeutic and bonding about these community sessions. It’s a real privilege for our facilitators, watching that transition from somebody walking into the room, slightly nervous and unsure about things, to then sharing what they’ve done and getting a round of applause. It’s a wonderful thing to be part of and see the impact on individuals’ wellbeing during the session and beyond.