"She's not the Queen, she's a very naughty girl": The Booth Centre Theatre company takes to the Edge Theatre stage with their most recent performance.
The story that then unfolds is truly delightful, as a rag-tag group of players launch ‘Coronation Tours’, overhauling an old bus from their workplace and... ahem “redirecting” some cash donations meant for charity to the enterprise- much to their boss’ dismay! From there, we are taken on a journey to sunny Blackpool, along with a family unit straight out of a ‘Carry On’ film and no shortage of cries of “Are we there yet- no!” that echoes the call and response of pantomime theatre and proved just as entertaining!
In a case of mistaken identities rivalled only by a Shakespearean comedy, one of our protagonists- Queenie- reveals herself, confessing that she has run away with Coronation Tours and was masquerading as a man the whole time- shock! This confession is overheard by our nosey landlady- a true entertainer throughout the performance- and the newspapers, now under the impression that the newly crowned Queen has come to Blackpool, are on their way- horror! The confusion and silliness only intensify when, between further hijinks and a particularly eventful ride on the ghost train, it is revealed that Queen Elizabeth herself was in fact in Blackpool all along (stop I can’t take anymore!)
As the show played out to a captivated audience of friends, family and (no doubt after this performance) newfound fans, it was interesting to reflect not just on the talent of the actors but on the message of the performance, which was one of friendship, love and acceptance. It is always nice to be reminded that, regardless of who we are or whatever our situation might be, kindness and tolerance will bond us, and we are all Queens at heart.
People who are homeless experience high levels of mental ill- health, and our Drama Programme, run in partnership with The Edge, is focused on improving mental health and wellbeing through workshops and performance. There is a wealth of evidence showing that participation in creative projects can keep people well, and through the past 11 years of our partnership with The Edge, we have seen first-hand how getting involved in the sessions can help individuals gain confidence, develop genuine dramatic skills, and overcome isolation and build connections. Of the 15 cast members, 12 had experienced homelessness, and the connection between them as they shared tender moments, exchanged witticisms and executed spot-on comedic timing was a real testament to how performance can increase positive connectedness. Co-production is also central to this project with people supported to volunteer, help set up the group, lead elements of the sessions, and decide the theme, again helping to build confidence and improve wellbeing.
To read more about the benefits that high-quality cultural interventions can bring to homelessness services, check out Get Creative: Arts for All – a Homeless Link project we were involved in.