Acting Now Social Theatre Company in Cambridge UK

By putting social, political and civic causes at the forefront of their work and by devising creative drama projects that breathe life into the important social challenges facing participants and audiences alike Acting Now contributes to transform people lives through theatre.

Acting Now uses drama techniques to engage with people who are at risk of social exclusion. They work with learning disabled people, adults with mental health challenges, the homeless and young people, using theatre to reflect, explore and analyse the issues that affect them. The workshops provide a space where the participants can develop self-confidence, learn new skills and transform their own reality using theatre. They also develop high quality plays that are performed in the local community.

Their methodology includes the theatre of the oppressed created by Augusto Boal in 1971 built around a variety of games and techniques that allowed unskilled participants to act. First, the participants become aware of their challenging situation. Then they are encouraged to analyse the factors which have caused it. Finally, the group acts on what they believe to be a solution to their challenges.

Also, Lecoq and the Physical Theatre encourages group work, since it is believed to improve emotions and feelings. The idea of Lecoq’s pedagogy “is to work in a common voice, is to be at one and at the same time grounded in the truth of a living character, and in touch with a dimension which transcends human reality”. This pedagogy created in 1956 stimulates the body, imagination and creativity.

As a platform to empower people and fight against exclusion, Acting Now works with charities and local authorities. Strong partnerships have been forged with a number of community organisations such as Rowan, Cambridge Cancer Help Centre and Wintercomfort, so as to support their service users in their future endeavours, to help them gain confidence and unlock their potential.

Strangeface Theatre Company UK

Strangeface brings mask and puppet theatre to audiences in Kent, regionally, nationally and internationally. We aim to make our work as accessible as possible by offering work that appeals across generations and travelling to venues across the UK from grand old theatres to tiny village halls.

Strangeface is a theatre company committed to producing an intimate fusion of mask, puppetry and live music. Its style arises from twin observations: that it is not in the interests of consumer culture to encourage imagination in its participants and that we live in an age where the individual is championed above the group.

In response to this Strangeface’s practice is to create theatre in a variety of spaces, which makes its audience aware of it’s own imaginative participation through various techniques and to elucidate the fact that identity is more transient than we would believe. In practice both of these aims can be deeply empowering. At the end of our performances we add time for audiences to come up on stage, to try on masks and play with puppets. In the case of mask and puppet theatre, showing how the magic is created makes the magic stronger.

Strangeface’s influences are diverse and growing. They include the mask cultures of Japan and Italy, the plays of Shakespeare and Brecht, the animation of Jan Svankmajer, Jirí Barta, Tim Burton and Nick Park, and contemporary companies such as Trestle, Faulty Optic, and Complicite. Our practice is also influenced by research into the application of Chaos Theory to semiotics and cognitive theory.

The company is also committed to outreach work. Schools, colleges and universities use our mask and puppet workshops (both making and using) not only to develop specific drama skills but also to address and encourage so called ‘soft skills’. Our workshops and residencies are ideal for building confidence within groups and individuals, encouraging team work, developing problem solving skills, imaginative engagement and extending emotional vocabulary. Strangeface is constantly developing its workshops and residencies to fit with changing educational requirements.