The Royal Exchange leads a wide-ranging programme of participatory work to open access to theatre.

Over 4,000 people take part in the Royal Exchange Participation and Learning programme every year and participants come from all social, economic and cultural backgrounds.

Associate Corporate Member Addleshaw Goddard are generously supporting one of our community outreach projects this year, ON TOP OF THE WORLD. OWOTW is a creative project working with participants from four One Manchester tower blocks in Hulme and Gorton, where 98% of residents live alone. The project introduces residents to a world of performance and theatre they might not previously have had access to, and tackles isolation and related mental health issues among single-living high rise tenants.

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Residents took to the stage in March 2017 in shows that combined singing, dancing and impressions of well-known personalities. The debut performances were warmly received by all. One resident who performed at the Gorton Monastery described his experience of the day, “I was a little worried the night before, but I feel great now I’ve done it. It’s given me more confidence and I know I need to do more of these things. [Performing] helps to get something out of me that I know is in there, it helps me to feel more like the person I want to be.”

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The groups have also enjoyed two theatre visits to see productions of SWEET CHARITY and THE HOUSE OF BERNARDA ALBA. The project will now focus on getting more people in the blocks and surrounding areas involved. Local artists will be leading groups and there will be more performance workshops, leading to a finale performance later in the year.

Feedback from participants

“I used to be sat in my flat all day doing nothing, now I can’t believe how busy I am, my drama, trips to the Theatre and I have got to know loads of people.”

Female resident Meredith

“I have always wanted to do this, I don’t want to waste this opportunity, I don’t want to mess it up.”

Male resident Hopton

“I feel more confident since I have been coming here, usually I just stay in bed.”

Female resident Meredith

In addition to Addleshaw Goddard Charitable Trust, this project is kindly supported by One Manchester and The J Paul Getty Foundation.