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Members of Havering’s Asian community take part in ‘amazing opportunity’ with National Theatre’s Public Acts

PUBLISHED: 10:00 24 August 2018

Members of the Havering Asian Social Welfare Association (Haswa) are taking part in a National Theatre production of Shakespeare's Pericles as part of the new initiative Public Acts. Picture: James Bellorini. Picture: James Bellorini.

Members of the Havering Asian Social Welfare Association (Haswa) are taking part in a National Theatre production of Shakespeare's Pericles as part of the new initiative Public Acts. Picture: James Bellorini. Picture: James Bellorini.

James Bellorini

Havering residents are part of a new initiative that has helped transform them from amateurs into a “true theatrical company”.

Members of the Havering Asian Social Welfare Association (Haswa) are taking part in a National Theatre production of Shakespeare's Pericles as part of the new initiative Public Acts. Picture: James Bellorini. Picture: James Bellorini.Members of the Havering Asian Social Welfare Association (Haswa) are taking part in a National Theatre production of Shakespeare's Pericles as part of the new initiative Public Acts. Picture: James Bellorini. Picture: James Bellorini.

The Havering Asian Social Welfare Association (Haswa) and the Queen’s theatre in Billet Lane have partnered up with the National Theatre in their new initiative, Public Acts which creates extraordinary acts of theatre and community.

A company of more than 200 people will join professional artists to breathe new life into the musical version of William Shakespeare’s Pericles.

When a reckless act threatens the safety of Prince Pericles he must flee his home and take to the sea.

The musical follows his story as he is driven from shore to shore.

The Recorder caught up with Saroj from Haswa and Jamie and his father, Richard from DABD - a charity in Dagenham which is also partners in the project.

Haswa in Kilmartin Way is an association that aims to improve the quality of life of Asians and the wider communities in Havering by promoting social integration.

Members of the Havering Asian Social Welfare Association (Haswa) are taking part in a National Theatre production of Shakespeare's Pericles as part of the new initiative Public Acts. Picture: James Bellorini. Picture: James Bellorini.Members of the Havering Asian Social Welfare Association (Haswa) are taking part in a National Theatre production of Shakespeare's Pericles as part of the new initiative Public Acts. Picture: James Bellorini. Picture: James Bellorini.

Jamie is part of the chorus, while Saroj performs in a wedding scene where there is a Bollywood styled dance.

Saroj said: “It’s so exciting. I really love it - the musical and the story - I think it’s just fantastic.

“I’m very happy to be involved in Public Acts. At first I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but now I’m really looking forward to the performance.”

Jamie added that it was exciting to be part of such as, “amazing opportunity” that involved working with professional actors.

Due to his disability he has been taking part in the production with his father, Richard who has acted as his chaperone.

“The whole process has been absolutely fantastic. It’s been something that has been really worthwhile for everybody that is involved in it,” said Richard.

Members of the Havering Asian Social Welfare Association (Haswa) are taking part in a National Theatre production of Shakespeare's Pericles as part of the new initiative Public Acts. Picture: James Bellorini.Members of the Havering Asian Social Welfare Association (Haswa) are taking part in a National Theatre production of Shakespeare's Pericles as part of the new initiative Public Acts. Picture: James Bellorini.

“There’s literally every nationality, every colour, every religion - all grouped together in one room and their one ideal is to make this a really unique performance.

“For someone like Jamie who sometimes finds it hard to socialise with people, it’s been a fantastic journey for him.

“He’s made life long friends here.”

With more than 200 people taking part, Saroj explained that they have become, “one big family”.

This is her first time taking part in a theatrical performance.

“First we had the workshops, and I wasn’t sure if we were going to take part,” said Saroj.

Members of the Havering Asian Social Welfare Association (Haswa) are taking part in a National Theatre production of Shakespeare's Pericles as part of the new initiative Public Acts. Picture: James Bellorini. Picture: James Bellorini.Members of the Havering Asian Social Welfare Association (Haswa) are taking part in a National Theatre production of Shakespeare's Pericles as part of the new initiative Public Acts. Picture: James Bellorini. Picture: James Bellorini.

“I tried to stay positive and now I can’t wait to be performing.”

Jamie has some more experience acting as he previously went to a performing arts school where he took part in various productions.

Richard told the Recorder: “This is something completely unique, because it’s brought together so many people under one roof on what is basically the world’s most iconic stage.

“It’s something really unprecedented.”

Through Public Acts, members of Haswa and DABD took part in a programme of workshops, trips and opportunities for exchange.

For Jamie, one of the highlights has been discovering skills he didn’t know had in dancing.

“I have learnt a lot from the rehearsals,” he said.

“We normally learn a new piece of dance and then we go over it very quickly, and I’ve found that I’ve been able to pick it up quickly too.”

Despite being on the sidelines, Richard has enjoyed watching the show take shape.

The proud dad said: “They have grown and progressed and now they are working together as a true theatrical company rather than 200 individuals in a room.”

Douglas Rintoul, artistic director at Queen’s Theatre said: “We’re thrilled to be the first partner collaborating with the National Theatre on Public Acts.

“It’s enabling us to engage deeply with diverse community groups in a way that will have a long lasting impact on individuals and our organisation.”

Pericles will be performed on the Olivier stage at the National Theatre on London’s Southbank on August 26 - 28.

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