Icon Theatre is to present If Not Now at Rochester Castle in February 2022.
The large-scale movement-based production will see breathtaking visuals projected onto the walls of Rochester Castle as part of Medway’s Light Nights.
The piece will explore poverty, prejudice, and the climate crisis, featuring professional artists alongside a volunteer cast of 100+ performers.
The cast of If Not Now will consist of a large-scale collective of residents including community based groups, local schools and young people supported by Icon Theatre’s Theatre31 programme alongside parkour runners, older adults, dancers and professional performers.
The incredible visuals are created by video and projection designers Novak who have brought extraordinary work to the UK’s largest light festival, Lumiere (London, Durham and Derry/Londonderry), Brighton Festival and the internationally renowned Singapore Night Festival.
Influenced by the sweeping changes worldwide that have been unleashed through the response to Covid-19, If Not Now will give voice to local stories and explore how communities can come together to challenge and transform poverty, prejudice, and the climate crisis, and look at historical movements and moments which have launched extraordinary social change, including the establishment of the NHS and welfare state.
Through a process of co-creation, led by Artistic Director Nancy Hirst, those involved will explore local social issues that matter to them and matter to Medway. The co-creation will look at how communities can come together to challenge and transform poverty and prejudice and the resulting ideas will be created and used in the production.
The project will focus on working with Medway communities who have lived experience of social injustice, deprivation and inequality. Community participation will be both live and through previously recorded digital engagement, allowing elderly and vulnerable residents to engage.
The production will also showcase original new music that combines the power of Medway’s heritage with the dynamism of its contemporary people. An original score will be composed by local participants co-creating with a professional composer.
If Not Now is directed by Icon Theatre’s Artistic Director Nancy Hirst, in collaboration with members of the local community. The production is choreographed by Jon Beney (Co-Artistic Director and Founder of Tenfoot Dance Company) and has an original score composed by multi award-winning Darren Clark (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Southwark Playhouse; The Grumpiest Boy in the World, Victoria Opera).
The creative team is joined by Sarah Booth as set and costume designer (The Last Abbot of Reading, Reading Abbey; BEAM, Aldeburgh Festival), Dan Terry as lighting designer (Sweet Charity, Cadogan Hall; Beautiful Octopus Club, Southbank Centre) and Adam Finlay as projection content creator (co-founder and Studio Director of NOVAK). Professional dancers taking part include Ayesha Fazal (Romeo & Juliet, Birmingham Royal Ballet; PETRICHOR, ThickSkin Theatre), Cher Nicolette Ho (Greenwich Dance; Southbank Centre), Ena Yamaguchi (The King and I, The London Palladium; Swan Lake, Ballet Classique de Paris) and Patrick Ross Webster (Grand Gesture; Counterpoint Dance Company). Professional actors include David King-Yombo (The Princess and the Pauper, Hordern Ciani) and Jade-Ashleigh Jeffery (Little Fox’s Christmas Garden, Brook Theatre). Emerging performers and dancers will also take part, with more to be announced.
Arts and performance groups from the local community will take part in the production, including Icon’s youth-led programme Theatre31 (who seek to empower children and young people across Medway and Sheppey), Icon’s Community Chorus, Fat Lady Opera Community Chorus, Community Choir, Square Pegs Arts (an award-winning charity running projects for those with learning difficulties, autism and social communication difficulties) and Upside Down Dance Academy (who offer street and cultural dance classes, working closely to engage with communities and local families).
For more information, visit icontheatre.org.uk.
Founder and Artistic Director Nancy Hirst said: “I’m excited and humbled by the way in which our company made up of over 175 professional theatre-makers and performers, local individuals and community groups have come together to create If Not Now; a production that I hope gives voice to the stories and interests of those involved, and a stage to both local and national talents alongside each other.
“Our eldest performer in If Not Now is 88 years old and our youngest is seven. Everyone involved both on and offstage has brought something special to this show – there’s a real sense of community.”