Nottingham Playhouse awarded Theatre of Sanctuary status


Awarded Theatre of Sanctuary Status

Continues With Digital Programme and presses Ahead With Autumn Season

Today, Nottingham Playhouse continues its first full season since the start of the pandemic with three announcements – the award of Theatre of Sanctuary Status, the extension of its digital programme and an addition to its ongoing production work. 

The Theatre of Sanctuary Award recognises that the theatre’s commitment, both now and into the future, has enabled it to become a welcoming, safe and enjoyable space for refugees and asylum seekers.

Reflecting the work Nottingham Playhouse has done over many years to encourage participation and accessibility to people seeking sanctuary in Nottingham, the award acknowledges the theatre’s ongoing endeavours to share stories and culture from people with lived experience, as well as its cultivation of wider engagement in the arts in the city.

Specific examples of on-stage productions have included work that charts the experience of asylum seekers and refugees, such as The Kite Runner and Kindertransport, and plays written or performed by refugees, including Pizza Shop Heroes.

Other relevant initiatives have included engaging asylum seekers for work experience, offering Pay What You Can and free tickets for people who otherwise would not have the means to come to the theatre, and free backstage tours to sanctuary seekers and organisations working with them.

Chief Executive, Stephanie Sirr says  – “Nottingham Playhouse exists to welcome everybody. It is interested in hearing everyone’s story. People who come here have a right to refuge – a genuinely safe space to share stories and conversation. We keep that possible through removing whatever barriers we can.”​​

Head of Participation, Martin Berry says  – “This award is recognition of a deeply embedded desire to build bridges, tell stories and to connect with those who have come to this country to feel safe.  It is just the beginning and we will continue working to ensure everyone feels they can call the Playhouse home.

Jane Burd, Coordinator of the Nottingham City of Sanctuary – says “Nottingham City of Sanctuary is delighted that the Nottingham Playhouse has been given their Theatre of Sanctuary award and would like to congratulate the team at the Playhouse for the work they have put into this recognition.  It reflects the tremendous work the theatre has done over many years to encourage participation and accessibility to people seeking sanctuary in Nottingham.  Their programmes consistently encourage a welcoming environment for everyone, especially refugee and asylum seeker communities.  We particularly look forward to their ongoing work to share stories and culture from people with lived experience and to cultivate a wider engagement in the arts in Nottingham.’

Lubna a Syrian refugee and an actor says –  “Hundreds of congratulations to the wonderful Playhouse on their award and to every person who worked and tried hard to do the best, as pieces of puzzle to complete an amazing picture. Well done great team.”

In addition to the Theatre of Sanctuary status, Nottingham Playhouse  also announces the extension of its ongoing digital offering with the return of the acclaimed series of digital dramas Still Life, featuring Frances De La Tour and Julie Hesmondhalgh, that bring to life untold stories of the city under lockdown (available until 31 May 2022), Ramps on The Moon’s adapation of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist by award-winning playwright Bryony Lavery (available from 25 October to 20 November), the previously announced staging of Phoebe Frances Brown’s The Glad Game (available from 24 September to 31 October) and the specially filmed performance of Nottingham Playhouse’s hugely popular pantomime which this year is Beauty and The Beast (filmed on 7 December in front of a live audience and available throughout the Christmas period).

At the same time Nottingham Playhouse is continuing with the return of live on-stage work with The Glad Game (September 24 and 25), Mark Gatiss’s eagerly awaited adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in which he stars as Jacob Marley alongside Nicholas Farrell’s Ebeneezer Scrooge, this year’s panto Beauty and The Beast as well as the Playhouse’s show for 3-8 year olds, Little Red Riding Hood, both running over the Christmas period and into January and, looking ahead, the gripping new drama inspired by the recent football abuse scandals, First Touch by fast-rising screenwriter Nathanial Price (BBC’s Noughts and Crosses and Sky’s Tin Star) which runs from 7 to 21 May 2022.

Nottingham Playhouse is dedicated to making bold and thrilling theatre in the heart of Nottingham and was named Regional Theatre of the Year in The Stage Awards 2019. In 2021, both Chief Executive Stephanie Sirr and Artistic Director Adam Penford featured in The Stage’s 100 – as did Associate Artist James Graham. 

2020 to 2021 was Nottingham Playhouse’s most challenging time in its history. The theatre is a central part of cultural life in Nottingham and, despite the pandemic closing its doors, it proved its ability to adapt and thrive by creating new work and moving to digital platforms where in person audiences have not been possible. 

In 2020 its award-winning production of The Madness of George III was made available online through NT at Home and it produced its first piece of new digital theatre – an interactive Zoom play for children called Noah and the Peacock. Most recently, nearly 29,000 people, including children from 69 schools, watched its online pantomime Cinderella. It has continued its commitment to hiring local freelancers who have been hard-hit by the current crisis, through efforts to produce new work, highlighted in its Unlocked festival in autumn 2020, including the world premiere of Bubble by associate artist James Graham. This commitment continued through Spring Loaded in 2021, which included the highly-regarded new digital theatre project Still Life.

This summer, the theatre reopened its doors with an acclaimed production of Pam Gems’ Piaf starring Jenna Russell in the title role. As well as A Christmas Carol, the first full season since the pandemic began includes the legendary Nottingham Playhouse pantomime, which this year will be Beauty and The Beast.  2022 will feature the much-anticipated productions of Private Peaceful, Red Ellen and First Touch whichare due to take place after being postponed due to the pandemic. 

Nottingham Playhouse believes that theatre should be accessible to everyone, even with its doors closed. Its Encore sessions created 2,240 engagements with over 50s in the past year and the Playhouse has continued to reach out to Nottingham’s communities, including those who are at risk of being isolated or marginalised. Its Amplify programme – which seeks to inspire and support theatre-makers from the East Midlands – has also continued running with one-to-one sessions, panel discussions, open call outs and podcasts. 

Nottingham Playhouse Trust Ltd relies on ticket sales for 70% of its income, and continues to fundraise through its Curtain Up appeal. It is a registered charity (no. 1109342).

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