Cardboard Citizens will perform Cathy, the powerful theatrical re-staging of Ken Loach’s seminal work Cathy Come Home which inspired the Housing Act more than fifty years ago, at The Labour Party Conference in Brighton on the 24 of September.
The performance comes as part of Cardboard Citizen’s continued efforts to address homelessness and help those who have experienced it, using theatre as one of the key platforms to do so.
The special appearance at Labour’s annual conference is being organised by John Healey MP, Labour’s shadow housing secretary and will form part of the party’s Homelessness Network launch alongside Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester. The Homelessness Network will promote the party’s commitment to tackling rising homelessness and share the best of what Labour councils and members are already doing to deal with the problem across the country.
Directed by Adrian Jackson, the play continues Cardboard Citizens’ exploration of the state of housing and homelessness and looks how life might be for a Cathy today. Cathy provides a timely reflection of the social and personal impact of spiralling housing costs, gentrification and the challenges of a lack of truly affordable housing.
Cardboard Citizens strongly champion the power of theatre to effect positive social change and at the conclusion of every performance of Cathy, an interactive section known as ‘Legislative Theatre’ takes place to offer audiences a chance to voice their opinion, take action, express their views and contribute to the proposal of new housing laws.
For the Labour Party performance, the format will be reversed. At the conclusion of the performance cast members will present top suggestions for legislative change directly to audience members made up of politicians and policy makers. The suggestions or ‘Cathy Laws’ have been gathered from audiences across the country, including the North Kensington community affected by the Grenfell tragedy, who the company have been working with, and who Cathy was performed to on the 21st September. Suggestions for legislative improvements will then be fed into the Labour Homeless Network.
The format follows the high-profile performance of Cathy at the House of Lords earlier this year when the company presented to MPs the top five housing laws suggested by audiences on the UK tour.
Adrian Jackson, Founder, Director and Chief Executive of Cardboard Citizens said; “We are delighted to be performing Cathy at the Labour Party Conference – but we are not partisan, we wish we could be at all the party conferences, the play is so important and so timely.
We are performing for the Grenfell community this week. The show has played up and down the country, in theatres, prisons and hostels – and recently for a month at Edinburgh Festival Fringe – and on every occasion it has touched hearts and minds, and provoked a vigorous post-show conversation, especially in the section where we invite our audiences to suggest laws to improve the situation (Legislative Theatre).
Earlier in the year, we performed at the House of Lords, and now we are presenting to an audience which may one day be in a position to change housing policy. This is a privilege, which proves that theatre can be more than mere entertainment.”
John Healey MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, said: “The increase in homelessness since 2010 is visible in almost every town and city in the country. The Labour Homelessness Network is a mark of our determination that Labour in government will act to reverse rising homelessness, and a recognition of the work that Labour councils are already doing.
“I’m delighted to host Cardboard Citizens to Labour Conference. Their play Cathy is powerful theatre and a hard-hitting reminder of the reality of modern homelessness.”
Beth Knowles, Greater Manchester Mayoral lead for Homelessness and Rough Sleeping said: “The Network will ensure reducing homelessness and ending rough sleeping are at the heart of Labour’s vision for a fairer society. We want to ensure there is a forum in the Labour Party to share best practice with a focus on people with lived experience of homelessness having the opportunity to help shape policy and services at a local level.”
Cardboard Citizens performance of Cathy will take place at the Labour Homelessness Network launch, Sunday 24th September, 5.30pm, Arundel 2 at the Brighton Holiday Inn