Our second co-production: A DIY Midsummer Skate Dream!
And now for big announcement number two...
R.A.T. will also be working with the Grove DIY skatepark in South London to bring fresh new life and relevance to a time-tested Shakespearean favourite: fairies and mortals, we give you A DIY Midsummer Skate Dream!
In 2019, some local young people took initiative with the disused car park of a closed-down pub in their area. Now it's a frequented skate park with its own small community garden. It is something of a lifeline, at a time of severe cuts to youth service provision, for a lot of the young people who go there to learn to skateboard, roller skate, ride bikes, help with the gardening, and spend time together.
A lot of these skaters, and others in similar urban areas, feel unwelcomed within their communities and that negative associations with skateboarding culture segregates them from others in their locality. This skatepark is a beautiful gesture of taking what is available and using it to fulfil a need in themselves and in the area as a whole.
They have been threatened with closure a few times and so far managed to resist through fundraisers, petitions and events. But with pressure piling on as development plans re-emerge after the pandemic, these young people need to make a big gesture and point of the Grove DIY being a crucial community, leisure and arts space - and that's where we come in.
We are delighted to be supported by Arts Council England to work with a company of skaters from around London and other participants from the local area around the Grove, to put on a production of one of Shakespeare's most loved plays, with additional text from the participants themselves reflecting on the magic the space brings to their lives. Some are already theatre enthusiasts struggling to break into professional work, others are keen to give theatre a go for the first time, and all are united in their commitment to the space and the people and cultures that live around it.
This is also a rare opportunity to combine skateboarding choreography with theatrical storytelling, and hopefully lay the foundations for a whole new audience for this little-appreciated artform. We are thrilled to be working with Dani Abulhawa, an interdisciplinary movement/skateboarding artist and academic, on this unique vision for the piece, which will be co-directed by Imy Wyatt and R.A.T. founder Nell Hardy, with producing support from Tom Critchley, Grove regular whose brainchild this project is.
Also supporting us are the Ben Raemers Foundation, who work to help skateboarding communities discuss and address mental health; Concrete Jungle Foundation, who run youth programmes and build skateparks for communities across the world; Grey Skate Mag, Long Live Southbank and Skateboard GB.
Curious? Keep some time free in the weekend of 3rd and 4th September and keep your eyes peeled here for exact timings of shows. Bring the family along for an outdoor Shakespeare like no other!