Two sold out theatre performances of ‘Cathy’ – a modern version of the emotive ‘Cathy Come Home’ drama - were a stark reminder that the problem of homelessness has not gone away since the original Ken Loach film was first screened 50 years ago on the BBC in November 1966.
Hightown Housing Association hosted the performances, produced by the acclaimed Cardboard Citizens theatre group at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans, as part of a campaign to highlight the continuing plight of homeless people in today’s society. The shows played to packed audiences, including residents from Hightown’s three homelessness services in St Albans.
After the performance, a member of the audience said: “It was extremely well done, with brilliant acting and also very thought-provoking. I defy anyone not to be changed after they have seen it. I now feel much less NIMBY about all the development of housing in this area which is needed.”
Hightown also organised a matinee performance for pupils from Samuel Ryder Academy and Townsend Church of England School in St Albans. Nikki Ward, Head of Drama at Samuel Ryder Academy, said: “The play was amazing and the pupils got so much out of it. Some of them even got the chance to join the actors on stage during the Forum Theatre part of the show. They were invited to try and change the outcome to a more positive one for the characters and the actors all commented on their talent and confidence.”
The drama was performed at the Abbey Theatre on 7th and 8th November as part of a nationwide tour by the Cardboard Citizens, which has been performing with and for homeless people for 25 years to try to make a real difference to those living at the margins of our society.
It’s one of a range of initiatives organised by the ‘Homes for Cathy’ group of housing associations, which was set up to draw attention to the continuing need to provide homes for homeless people since the first screening of ‘Cathy Come Home’ on 16th November 1966. The 23 housing associations in the Homes for Cathy group were set up by volunteers in direct response to the original 1960s drama.
David Bogle, Hightown Chief Executive and Homes for Cathy Spokesperson, introduced the shows to talk to the audience about the nationwide campaign and to raise awareness of homelessness.
He said: “Thank you to Cardboard Citizens for putting on such an incredibly moving performance and to the Abbey Theatre for hosting.
“Despite the work of housing associations over the past 50 years, the problem of homelessness has not gone away. There is simply not enough affordable housing around to meet housing needs. The number of people being made homeless is increasing nationally, with more than 100,000 children living in temporary accommodation last Christmas.”
Artistic Director and Founder of Cardboard Citizens (and director of ‘Cathy’) Adrian Jackson, said: “Cardboard Citizens is incredibly grateful to Hightown for its support in presenting ‘Cathy’ to packed audiences in St Albans.
“Ali Taylor’s exploration of the housing crisis is a timely and important piece of theatre, and Hightown helped ensure more than 150 people saw Cardboard Citizens work in its 25th anniversary year at two sold out performances at the Abbey Theatre.”