Anti-Hate Crime

It’s been an exceptionally busy time for Reality Theatre since our last production, ‘Stand By Your Man’.  We became a Community Interest Company, which was great news, and I have been busy trying to raise funds to keep us going.  Initially, I gave myself a year to pilot Reality Theatre as a prospective community business.  Just as the money was about to run out and I figured I’d have to go back to a ‘proper job’ and fold the company, the hard work paid off.  We have just been give our first pot of funding from the amazing Communities First, as well as conditional funding for a research project we shall be moving on to next (as soon as conditions are met, I shall announce further details).  Suffice to say, this has been a very hard period, but so worth it when I look at the work we have carried out and the work that we are about to do.  Without the fantastic team, none of this would have been possible and I would like to take the opportunity to thank them all for giving up their time, with no payment, to make this work.  Guys, I promise as soon as funding comes in, you will be paid for your services whenever possible!

In the meantime, work on the Crush Hate Crime festival is well underway and I take my hat off to all event organisers and promoters out there – this has been such a difficult and stressful event to manage and it’s been wonderful to see my son, Joe, rise to the occasion and take care of the music side of things.

The play, ‘Just a Bit of Banter’, is a brutal look at prejudice in the UK and raises questions about discrimination: what exactly is hate crime?  What does it means to be British, and how do the police deal with such crimes? Needless to say, the research element of this has been harrowing and I’ve been filled with great sadness; this is nothing compared to the suffering that victims of such vile crimes go through.

Please come along and support us.  Further dates to be announced soon.hate crime

Why I left teaching…

I was asked recently why I had left a successful teaching career as senior lecturer with a pension, to set up a theatre group (a pub theatre group at that) that is unlikely to ever make any money, relying on a few teaching hours in the university to get by.  My go-to phrase is “I was disillusioned with the education system”, which is partly true (and an issue I shall return to at a later date).  Whatever the reason, the catalyst was my mother’s unexpected death from cancer, and the pain and suffering she endured at the hands of our NHS.

Until faced with such issues, we tend to remain relatively unaffected by media reports of ward over-crowding, long queues and waiting lists, abuse in care homes and so on.  But this is happening to real people. Real people, in every town and city in the UK. I saw it in Newport’s own Royal Gwent Hospital. Elderly people being sent home to empty houses with no support or aftercare. The sick and injured people lying on floors in corridors and wards, because there were no beds or trollies. The nurse, bursting into tears, unable to offer a bed to my dying mother who was no longer able to sit upright on the chair in the waiting area. The ladies with no pillow cases or clean linen on their beds. The people who wet themselves because no one came when they buzzed.  I saw it and was powerless.

But there was kindness too. I will never forget the nursing staff on the ward onto which we’d been pushed, on the occasion I had refused to take my mother home. They couldn’t give us a bed, but they made sure we were comfortable and gave us food and drink for the day.   The staff on the Alzheimer’s ward, too, cheerfully chasing escaping patients, always showing kindness and respect.

These are the people whose stories I promised myself I would one day tell.  I may not be the best writer in the world; my actors may not be the most experienced or classically trained; my crew may be young, inexperienced and have to work for the price of a pint.  But goddammit, they are the most talented, committed and brave group of people I could hope to work with.  Society may suck, but we care, and this is why Reality Theatre needs and values your support.  Vive la revolution!

My Condition and Me

Our next production is based upon the issue of mental illness, a highly relevant topic today, with many suffering, or knowing someone who suffers from, some form of mental illness.  Currently, it is estimated that one in four people in the UK suffers from some form of mental illness, with problems ranging from anxiety to schizophrenia.  This play explores the different attitudes displayed towards those suffering from bi-polar, but it also confronts the very idea of psychosis, a word that has the capacity to frighten us, yet often remains misunderstood.

15400982_1023819101056398_1497343031592151423_nMy Condition and Me is an adaptation of our previous Halloween Nightmare (October 2016), an experimental piece of theatre utilising music and dance to express the inner torment of the lead character, as represented by the Manifestations and Creatures that plagued him.  These Manifestations were given a symbolic ontology of their own, in an attempt to represent the reality of visual hallucinations as seen by those suffering such psychotic episodes.

 

For this forthcoming performance of My Condition and Me, we have omitted the experimental aspects and returned to a more traditional approach, as seen in our previous production of Waiting for Harry (July 2016).  The lead role is played by our youngest member, Dean Morgan, 21, who brings a very raw and honest quality to the performance by drawing upon his own experiences with mental illness.

Our aim at Reality Theatre is not to educate or pass judgement, nor even to pass comment. It is simply to present…to present the issues that can affect each and every one of us, to present an image of what life is like for some within our own society.

If you wish to comment, share any thoughts or even your experiences of mental illness, then please use the contact page to get in touch.  We welcome your input and feedback.

You can watch My Condition and Me on January 24, 2017, in the Pen and Wig,  Stow Hill, Newport.

 

My Condition and Me

The date has been confirmed for our next performance: Wednesday, January 11th, in the Pen and Wig, Newport, for an adaptation of our Halloween horror.
‘My Condition and Me’ is a dark comedy, centred around issues of mental illness. Please come along to support Newport’s only pub theatre group!
Part proceeds to go to MIND. Further information to follow.