Studio 3 Arts propose a reimagination of Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’ for a modern Barking and Dagenham audience, staging the play as a promenade, outdoor performance event that animates Barking Town Centre’s key landmarks. This proposal represents a unique opportunity to use the town centre and high street as the backdrop for an outstanding new interpretation of a Shakespearean classic, delivered by an organisation with a 27-year track record of delivering arts-led community engagement in the borough. Barking’s town centre is full of hidden spaces and well-known landmarks. We will create a route that celebrates the town centre as a creative place. We propose to open the play at the Town Quay and travel towards the Town Centre, with scenes in shops, restaurants, Abbey leisure centre and the Barking Learning Centre culminating in the courtroom scene, performed in the Council chambers. This is truly a piece of work that simply couldn’t happen anywhere else in the world.
What we'll deliver:
Why it's a great idea:
The idea is one that as an organisation we have been planning for a while, and was the suggestion of one of our local artists. Our area is a place with a set of complex and urgent social needs that include high levels of poverty and worklessness. This is also place of real diversity with more than 100 languages spoken in our schools and incredible artistic ambition, community activism and high levels of small business startups. This context means that race, economics, enterprise and religion are themes that are constantly being played in counterpoint here and this production gives us a chance to make sense of these issues and open a community-wide dialogue. Our borough also has real potential as a cultural destination with significant regeneration schemes taking place. We would love to help put Barking and Dagenham on the map by creative a work that celebrates the town and its public and brings real critical attention to the creative sector in the borough.
Steps to get it done:
We want to make sure that our work is accessible to those with no current engagement in the arts. This means that alongside the traditional referral routes (local theatre and arts groups, the College, the Adult College, CVS etc) we will create a tailor-made engagement plan for current non-attenders. This will involve working
with GP surgeries, cafes, libraries, parent groups, lunch clubs, older people’s social clubs and other community spaces to meet and forge relationships with local people and support interested groups and individuals to explore the ways that they can be involved in the project. This is a real dialogical process that will be led by our community engagement expert practitioners alongside the actors and creative team. This is Studio 3 Arts’ real skill; making genuine relationships with our communities that lead to trust and security, which results in engagement in and celebration of art and artistic processes.
About the space
London Borough of Barking and Dagenham