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Phil Willmott

THE HOME is an Absolutely Crazy Theatre Idea - for Good and Bad Reasons

The Home Now here’s an absolutely crazy idea for a piece of theatre. It’s brave, brilliant and exactly the kind of thing we love to promote at Londonboxoffice alongside the city’s commercial offerings. But there’s a catch.

First the good news – and there’s plenty of it! I think this sounds amazing.

Quoting from the press release -

“This large scale and ambitious project, created by multi award-winning artist Christopher Green, will see audience members immerse themselves as residents in a theatrical care home over the weekend of 13 September. Just 30 audience members will enter The Home for a Durational Stay, checking in as ‘residents’ for 48 hours. Each participant will have a customised experience in this specially created theatrical care home, with their own room, key-workers and treatment, entertainment and wellbeing schedules.

This radical and immersive theatrical experience will blur the lines between performer and audience as ‘residents’ and ‘staff’ mix, sharing communal space, meals, and activities.

The Home blurs the lines between theatre and audience, exploring how we support and care for our older people and how we can reinvent practices to significantly improve quality of life”.

Creator Christopher Green says:

“That’s hardcore!” is the most common response I get when I tell them the idea for The Home. Yes. It is hardcore. Theatrically, in terms of pushing the form, it’s both a logical extension of my previous immersive work, but also gutsy. But the form absolutely matches the content. Being cared for, living communally, relying on an organisation to provide our wellbeing can only be really discussed when we have experienced it”.

Well, I’d love to “experience it”.

But here’s the bad news -

“Tickets for the 48 hour durational stay are available via a lottery system (over 18s only) and cost £100”

£100!?

The press release informs us “THE HOME is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England” Obviously it’s not supported enough then, if it’s priced way beyond the reach of the poorest in our society who are most likely to get the rough end of the UK’s care industry as they grow older.

To be fair I should add there are shorter drop in sessions throughout the weekend.

“Tickets for the short events are Pay-What-Makes-You-Happy. This means you book a place to attend in advance with no charge, but pay what you decide after you’ve been to the event, based on how much you enjoyed it”

Great. But the full immersive residency is the centre piece of the “Age Against the Machine -- Festival of Creative Ageing” the purpose of which, they claim, is “to addresses a subject and section of society that is often invisible in the public eye”

Absurd then that this enticing event is too expensive for that very same section of society.

I get that there’s a lot of fascinating free stuff too, accessible and affordable to all of us, it’s well worth checking out their website, but I struggle to feel positive about an initiative which perpetuates a class system where only the wealthy get the full benefit.

Visit www.lewisham.gov.uk for more information.