Six strangers, weighed down by individual darkness, come to a deprived coastal land. Seemingly abandoned, there is no one to help but themselves. Stuck between the remains of a broken community and the vast bleakness of the sea, they struggle with isolation, shame and failed support systems.
Dark and uncompromising yet tender and moving, DROWNTOWN continues the vein of gritty dance-theatre from radical choreographer Rhiannon Faith. Bold and brave, at times bleak (in fitting with its subject matter), the show uses autobiographical testimonials and text to give voice to the vulnerable and unheard in modern Britain’s areas of social deprivation. With tenderness and honesty, the show holds up a mirror to a society at tipping point. DROWNTOWN is here to save our world from drowning.
The show has its world premier with a week-long run at London’s Barbican in June/July, following a short preview tour that visits Cambridge, Canterbury, Banbury and Harlow. There will be more dates later this year and into 2021.
Before creating the show Rhiannon undertook extensive research into areas of social deprivation. ‘I spent research residencies in the coastal towns of Jaywick, Clacton-on-Sea and Great Yarmouth, all places with a strong sense of community and identity but also some of the highest levels of social and economic deprivation in the UK. Happy destinations for holiday goers that become full of darkness and degradation when left behind’ she said.
Social exclusion and isolation are rife in such places with their lack of frequent and reliable public transport and high-speed internet. Recent research suggests that loneliness can increase the risk of premature death by 30%. Nine million people in the UK say they often feel lonely, 7% of 18-64 year olds feel socially isolated, rising to 11% for over 65s.
‘So many communities are broken, people are drowning, so something must be going wrong,’ added Rhiannon. ‘The conversations have dried up and what exists within us, wounds and emotion, just gets pushed down to the sea-bed. I want to reopen those conversations urgently’.
DROWNTOWN is presented by the Barbican, co-produced by Harlow Playhouse, commissioned by Cambridge Junction with commissioning support from DanceEast. Supported by Brighton Dome and Festival Ltd, South East Dance, and using public funding by Arts Council England.
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