A London theatre is widening its doors to vulnerable young people by inviting them to see a new play about foster care for free of charge.
The New End Theatre in Hampstead, London, has made over a hundred free tickets available to disadvantaged children in the area for its new drama.
Running throughout August, Where’s Your Mama Gone? is a challenging production that follows the struggles of two children placed in care after losing their mother to a serial killer. The play addresses a number of issues around foster care, including alcoholism, drug use and questions of identity and heritage.
Theatre goers will also get the chance to see two exhibitions that explore the wider issues explored by the play. As well as highlighting the experiences of young people raised in care, members of the cast were asked to create displays about their own roots and genealogy.
The theatre hopes that the project will draw attention the problems foster children in its own borough of Camden. Just 59 per cent of the borough’s children in care achieved a pass mark in any GCSE subject in 2009, compared with 78 per cent nationally. Camden’s foster children also had the highest rate of substance abuse in inner London, with almost one in five reported as having a problem with alcohol or drugs.
Following a critically acclaimed run in Leeds, playwright Brian Daniels is bringing the production to London for a four week run at The New End Theatre, where he is also artistic director. The theatre has a growing reputation for staging socially innovative drama, recently addressing sensitive issues such as child abuse, special needs education and the onset of dementia.
Speaking about the initiative, Brian Daniels, said: “The play was written to offer hope to young people living in care and to draw attention to the vast difficulties they face. Many of the youngsters that we have invited down will not have had the chance to experience live theatre and I urge other venues to set aside some tickets as well.”
The initiative is part of a drive to attract wider audiences to the theatre, which will also see a pioneering new ‘pay what you can’ scheme. This optional pricing system will operate for the entire run of the play in order to attract audiences that would otherwise be unable to attend. Although there will be a suggested ticket price of £15, theatregoers will be free to choose how much they pay at the box office.
Where’s Your Mama Gone? is showing from Monday 2nd August to Sunday 28th August 2011. Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.00pm, matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 3.00pm. Tickets are available from www.newendtheatre.co.uk