Arts London Preview Theatre

Arts of the UK 2021: Young Vic marks conclusion of TWENTY TWENTY with three short films

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LONDON – Young Vic Taking Part has announced the conclusion of TWENTY TWENTY – their year-long in-depth creative enrichment project within their local community – with the online premiere of three short films starring the members of their TWENTY TWENTY community company. The films will premiere online at 6pm GMT on Thursday 28th January, via the Young Vic website. The films will be available for free, with no time limit on streaming availability.

The films – entitled Even At Our Age, Tapestry and Home(body) –  have each been created in partnership with one of three organisations; Blackfriars Settlement and their Positive Ageing group supporting the Over 60s; Certitude, a leading provider of support to people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health needs and their families and carers; and Thames Reach, a charity supporting people facing homelessness. They are written by Jasmine Lee-Jones, Nessah Muthy and Tolani Shoneye, and directed by Milli Bhatia, Jade Lewis and Audrey Sheffield. The films were written for and created with the three participant groups, and the stories and style of the films reflect the unique characters and experiences of the individual participants.

Photo Credit: Anthony Lee

In Tolani Shoneye’s Even At Our Age, the host of the titular Saturday night matchmaking television show suddenly, resulting in a hilarious murder mystery, as the contestants reclaim their strength and power from a patronising, dismissive society. In Nessah Muthy’s Tapestry, a group come together to form a community choir, and work towards their first ever competitive performance, leading to unlikely bonds as they sing, eat biscuits and quietly alter each other’s lives forever. Finally, Jasmine Lee-Jones’ Home(body) takes you to a wonderful and weird world, as people’s lives suddenly grind to a halt.

Photo Credit: Anthony Lee

The Office for National Statistics’ Personal Wellbeing in the UK Oct 2019 report found people in the Young Vic’s local boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark registered in the bottom 10% for well-being in the UK. The Young Vic’s Taking Part department, renowned for being deeply embedded in these boroughs, launched their TWENTY TWENTY project in November 2019. Their vision was to deliver a year of workshops and events to community members recruited via the partner organisations, with an in-depth focus on developing creative skills, building confidence and fostering community.

Photo Credit: Anthony Lee

Despite the developing COVID-19 requirements and restrictions, the project went ahead, with 65 participants joining over 150 hours of workshops throughout the year, in-person and then online. Originally intended to conclude with three new plays performed at the Young Vic theatre, TWENTY TWENTY was adapted and reformed for the year that was 2020. As a result, Young Vic Taking Part is now delighted to premiere three films, shot in socially distanced conditions, marking the conclusion of an extraordinary year working with their local community to create art.

Photo Credit: Anthony Lee

Also announced are four TWENTY TWENTY Ambassadors. Actor Ariyon Bakare (His Dark Materials), actress Erin Doherty (The Crown; My Name is Rachel Corrie, Young Vic), Booker prize–winning author Bernardine Evaristo and Cllr Sonia Winifred, Lambeth’s Cabinet member for Equalities and Culture, join the project to highlight the importance of delivering creative enrichment within the local community.

Actor Ariyon Bakare said: “Making art, making theatre, making film – these are all things which I know from experience can help you understand your place in the world and help you connect with those around you. I know that what the Young Vic and their community company have created over a year is so important for all these reasons. This is the grassroots work we all talk about as being so important for our industry, this is the type of project which has the power to change someone’s perspective on life. And this is why I have come on board as an ambassador for TWENTY TWENTY, and I encourage you to watch these films and applaud the work and courage of all those involved.”

Actress Erin Doherty said: “I am delighted to come on board as an Ambassador for TWENTY TWENTY. When distance and isolation feel a part of our lives more than ever before, I believe that using drama and creativity is a wonderful way to knit our community back together again. You can see this in what the TWENTY TWENTY company have achieved, despite all the challenges this year has thrown at them. Now, more than ever before, is the moment to demonstrate the positive impact being creative has on us as individuals, and its importance in making society a better place. I know from personal experience whilst performing at the Young Vic that it is a theatre where local people are very important, not just as an audience, but as creative and inspiring individuals, and this project exemplifies this mission.”

Author Bernardine Evaristo said: “TWENTY TWENTY’s long-term focus on enhancing the creativity of members of the community, by taking the art out of traditional theatre spaces and partnering with local charities, is the kind of project which offers an important version of the theatre sector we could choose for our future, where we collectively remove as many barriers as possible to who creates and consumes art. My heartfelt congratulations to everyone involved, including all the participants for sharing their art with us.”

Cllr Sonia Winifred, Lambeth’s Cabinet member for Equalities and Culture, said: “The devastating impact of Covid-19 over the past year has demonstrated the importance of art and culture as a way of promoting wellbeing and keeping our community united. By working over an entire year in the boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark, in partnership with Blackfriars Settlement, Certitude and Thames Reach, the Young Vic’s TWENTY TWENTY project shows the powerful role culture has in sustaining and enriching our unique neighbourhood. It also shows how important it is to expand the ways people interact with culture and who has access to it. I am delighted to be an ambassador for a project which sees some of today’s brightest theatre writers and directors collaborating with the people of our community, with such joyous and inspirational results.

The three films of TWENTY TWNETY premiere 6pm GMT on Thursday 28th January on the Young Vic website

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