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British & Irish Residents
Homeless performers take over Royal Opera House | Society | The Guardian -
Joe "Bad Guts" Silence
2 other people
"When the former Conservative cabinet minister Sir George Young famously said: "The homeless are what you step over when you come out of the opera," a debate was sparked at the shelter where a young opera critic, Matthew Peacock, worked as a volunteer. "A discussion began about what homeless people needed and wanted. It wasn't blankets and housing: they wanted to show the public what homeless people can do. It was about restoring pride," he says. From that conversation grew the company Streetwise Opera – which, with Peacock as its founding chief executive, now has a string of critically acclaimed productions to its name. And this week, the story has turned full circle, as Streetwise and a host of other homeless or ex-homeless performers take over the Royal Opera House. The event, With One Voice, is part of the London 2012 festival – the first time that homeless people have been given a platform at an Olympic Games. Instead of being, in Peacock's words, "overlooked, made unwelcome, or, worst-case scenario, moved on". All day on Monday, the Royal Opera House was alive with the sound of 300 people preparing for the night's performance. The Floral Hall rang to the sound of rap collectives and choirs; the Crush bar, with its imposing gilt walls, sconces, velvet chaises and glittering chandeliers, hosted poets and songwriters. Neatly dressed bar staff, who tomorrow would be pouring champagne for ballet-goers, wielded bags of sandwiches to fuel the rehearsals and soundchecks. While Tony Hall, Covent Garden's chief executive, beamed at all comers ("So proud to have you here"), Andrew McCutchion, Paul Hawkins and Jane Cartwright prepared for their performance of poems – the product of writing workshops undertaken with Vita Nova, a Bournemouth-based theatre company that works with people recovering from addiction. McCutchion did a degree in music before his problems started and he ended up addicted to alcohol ("I drank my housing benefit," he says). If a corner of him had...
Lovely idea - "the homeless", like "the disabled" have the same needs for expression, recognition, culture, enjoyment, luxuries etc. as all other human beings. Very cool they pulled it off. -
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