Icon Theatre announces cast and creatives for extraordinary large-scale immersive production
The Ballad of St John’s Car Park
Wednesday 5th – Saturday 8th October 2022
Press Night: Wednesday 5th October 2022
The St. George Hotel, 7-8 New Rd Ave, Chatham ME4 6BB
An Icon Theatre Production co-commissioned by Creative Estuary and Medway Council and supported by Arts Council England.
It’s Karaoke Night in The St. George. Andrea, Eddie, Asha and Kyle are ready to take a stand…
Renowned Medway-based theatre company Icon Theatre, who celebrate their twentieth anniversary this year, has announced the cast and creative team for The Ballad of St John’s Car Park. Set at a Karaoke night, this important immersive and site-specific production celebrates true stories of community activism in Medway, from the protested closure of Chatham’s Dockyard in 1984 to the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. The production is created and performed by a professional cast and creative team and features a community ensemble of over 100 performers.
The Ballad of St John’s Car Park is directed by Icon Theatre’s Artistic Director Nancy Hirst. Award-winning Hirst has created the theatre production with the cast and local community groups, collecting their stories to shape the script. Research and development was supported by Tabby Lamb, Harveen Mann ARAM and Ravneet Sehra.
Professional performers taking part include Vaneeka Dadhri (Cyrano de Bergerac, UK Tour and West End; Unite – It’s Not As Simple As Black & White, The New Vic), David King-Yombo (The Visit, National Theatre; Protests, Hymns and Caskets, Belgrade Theatre), PK Taylor (Jerusalem and Sweeney Todd, South Hill Park Arts Centre), and Jaye Hudson (This Isn’t a True Story, Almeida; Cacophony, Yard Theatre; The Film We Can’t See, BBC Sounds). The production also offers roles to emerging and local performers including Nicole Dunn (Get Even, BBC/Netflix; Everything I Know About Love, BBC) and Rainham-based actor Pialy Mallik (Honour, ITV; Academy Award-nominated The Long Goodbye), with more to be announced.
The production’s set and costume design are by Sarah Booth (The Firework-Maker’s Daughter, Minack Theatre; BEAM, Aldeburgh Festival), with projection design from Gino Green (Sweat, Donmar Warehouse; This Is Not Who I Am, Royal Court) and the lighting design is by Dan Terry (Sweet Charity, Cadogan Hall; Beautiful Octopus Club, Southbank Centre). The production features mass-movement choreographed by Grace Murdoch (Artistic Director, Cheap Date; Orfeo, Minack Theatre) and includes original music and sound design by Jonathan Vincent (The One Show, BBC; Brooklyn 99, Fox/NBC).
The Ballad of St John’s Car Park will feature pupils from six local schools, who will participate as part of Icon Theatre’s award-winning young people’s programme Theatre31, and singers from Fat Lady Opera Chorus.
Taking inspiration from true stories of activism in Medway, The Ballad of St John’s Car Park explores how they have shaped the identities of individuals and the community. Stories include the Black Lives Matter movement’s campaign to rename a local car park that commemorated a prominent slave trader, the protested closure of Chatham Dockyard, local LGBTQ+ and Trans activism that led to the establishment of Medway Pride, how Sikh traditions of ‘Langar’ have positively supported protestors and young people’s involvement in the Greta Thunberg climate protests. The stories are interspersed with spectacular projections, joyous dance and uplifting karaoke, bringing these poignant stories to life in vivid ways. After the show, the bar and karaoke will stay open for an inclusive community party where the audience can perform their own karaoke songs.
The Ballad of St John’s Car Park is an Icon Theatre production and was co-commissioned by Creative Estuary’s Co-commission programme, the initiative which aims to showcase 60 miles of the North Kent and South Essex region as one of the UK’s most dynamic and creative areas, and Medway Council and is supported by Arts Council England.
Icon Theatre’s Artistic Director, Nancy Hirst comments:
The Ballad of St John’s Car Park unites an expert creative team with multiple local talents and important stories from local Medway communities. When Icon make a new production I never fully know what the outcome will be. We start off with a small creative idea and develop it with community groups and a professional team. For this production I was inspired by the strength and persistence of the Black Lives Matter movement’s campaign to change the name of a local car park that commemorated slave trader John Hawkins.
There are over 200 people in the company for The Ballad of St John’s Car Park and my aim has been to enable them to tell stories of protest that are important to them. Right now, we are at an important moment in our national history where our right to protest has been significantly restricted by recent legislation. The Ballad of St John’s Car Park seeks to demonstrate the positive side of activism.
Creative Estuary’s Director, Emma Wilcox says:
This project exemplifies our vision for the Creative Estuary Co-commissioning programme, to enable bold, ambitious work to be made with and for the communities of the estuary. It showcases the huge talent we have within our creative organisations and tells the stories of our inspiring places.
The Ballad of St John’s Car Park follows Icon Theatre’s If Not Now (February 2022), a mass-movement production exploring poverty, prejudice, and the climate crisis performed at Rochester Castle as part of Medway’s Light Nights.
Note to Editors
For individuals of all ages, Medway-based schools (year 9 upwards) and groups who wish to take part in The Ballad of St John’s Car Park either as performers or backstage please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01634 813179 to find out more.
Cast and Creative Team
Communities of Medway
Set & Costume Design
Composer & Sound Design
Theatre31 Young Cast Direction
Tania Holland Williams
Research & Development Support
Tabby Lamb, Harveen Mann ARAM and Ravneet Sehra.
PK Taylor, David King-Yombo, Vaneeka Dadhria, Jaye Hudson, Nicole Dunn, Pialy Mallik, the community ensemble and more to be announced.
The Ballad of St John’s Car Park
Dates and Times
Wednesday 5th October, 7.30pm
Thursday 6th October, 7.30pm
Friday 7th October, 7.30pm
Saturday 8th October, 2.30pm and 7.30pm
90 minutes (including an interval), the bar and karaoke will stay open after the show.
The St. George Hotel, 7-8 New Rd Ave, Chatham ME4 6BB
How to Get There
The nearest station is Chatham and the venue is a 5 minute walk away. The entrance to the show is at the rear of the hotel in Gundulph Road.
Tickets are £1, £5 and £10 with no booking fees and seating is unreserved. As part of Icon Theatre’s commitment to making theatre accessible to everybody, a limited number of £5 tickets are available for each performance on a first-come, first-serve basis. Standing is available at £1. Purchase online at www.icontheatre.org.uk
The venue is fully accessible. Wheelchair users and people with restricted mobility are requested to enter via the main reception of the hotel. BSL-Interpreted Performances, Saturday 8 October, 2.30pm & 7.30pm. Touch Tour – Saturday 8 October, 1.30pm (free). To book the Touch Tour please email: email@example.com or call 01634 813179
The Ballad of St John’s Car Park is an Icon Theatre production co-commissioned by Creative Estuary and Medway Council and supported by Arts Council England. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport funds the Cultural Development Fund which is administered by Arts Council England.
Icon Theatre’s young people’s programme Theatre31 is funded by Arts Council England in partnership with Medway Council, Kent County Council & ROH Bridge, with support from the Medway and Sheppey LCEPs (Local Cultural Education Partnerships).
Photo credit © Manuel Vason
Icon Theatre brings together local communities and professional artists to push the boundaries of where theatre happens, who it is for and how it can help people and places to grow.
Co-creation is at the heart of everything Icon Theatre does, be that making large-scale immersive productions with theatre-makers and our community; running Theatre31, one of five Arts Council-funded Youth Performance Partnerships; our ongoing participatory theatre projects in schools, drop-in centres, and criminal justice settings; or professional development opportunities for teachers and artists. Icon Theatre aims to reach those who face significant socio-economic deprivation and exclusion.
Each Christmas, Icon Theatre is co-commissioned with other locally-based arts companies to create an interactive Christmas show for early years children that is performed at The Brook Theatre in Chatham.
Icon Theatre is led by artistic director and founder, Nancy Hirst, is a Medway-based company, and in 2022 will celebrate their twentieth anniversary.
Creative Estuary Co-Commissions supports a wide range of cultural projects with new commissions for Estuary-based producers and artists, from activity for emerging cultural activists to large scale commissions with a diverse mix of partners. The Co-commissions raise widespread awareness of existing creative talent across the region and support creative practitioners and organisations to make and present new work. We are committed to engaging our local communities to contribute to their creative identity and will give artists, organisations and creative practitioners opportunities and support to help them realise their creative ambitions. The Co-commissions create opportunities for creative innovation and new cultural production – we want to capture imagination and provide opportunities for greater collaboration and knowledge sharing. For more information visit www.creativeestuary.com.
Creative Estuary has a vision to forge a new future founded on creative energy and innovation, along the length of the Thames Estuary. The project is supported by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and led by the University of Kent on behalf of a consortium of public sector and cultural organisations. They include the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), Kent and Essex County Councils, the Greater London Authority, 11 local authority areas represented by Greater North Kent and Opportunity South Essex, South East Creative Economy Network (SECEN), University of Essex, Locate in Kent and cultural organisations Metal and Cement Fields. In early 2019 the University of Kent was awarded £4.3m from the DCMS Cultural Development Fund on behalf of the partners. DCMS Sport funds the Cultural Development Fund which is administered by Arts Council England.
All enquiries, high res images and further information:
Olivia O’Neill, Chloé Nelkin Consulting
E: firstname.lastname@example.org , T: 020 3627 2960