Rosehill Theatre - Being the change

Monday, 13 November 2017 - 1:08pm

In the autumn of 2016, Rosehill theatre received seed funding from the Cumbria 'Be The Change' network facilitated by Homeless Link to collaborate with Cardboard Citizens. 

Woman having a discussion with a man

Rosehill is a historic small theatre which has transformed itself into a relevant, contemporary arts centre that brings music, drama and creative opportunity of the highest quality to a rural, isolated part of the country where arts engagement is nationally low (Arts Council England) and socio-economic challenges are significant. The Rosehill is a registered charity, which receives grants from Arts Council England, trusts and foundations and through individual giving. We have a small number of permanent staff, in addition to support by over 30 volunteers.

In the autumn of 2016, Rosehill Theatre received seed funding from the Cumbria Be The Change network facilitated by Homeless Link to collaborate with Cardboard Citizens. Cardboard Citizens has been making life-changing theatre with and for homeless people in and out of hostels, day centres and prisons for 25 years.

Following a local tour of their play Benefit in 2015 presented by Rosehill on the Road, we were invited to be a partner on their Citz National Residency to develop work with individuals who had experience of homelessness.

Cardboard Citizens national residencies are part funded by the Big Lottery Fund and bring together local homeless or vulnerable people to explore the barriers they are facing and identify solutions, through fun, creative workshops and performances. On a personal level, the work raises confidence and improves self-esteem; while on a community level it helps boost employability and breaks down barriers. It also crucially enables local arts practitioners to train in this life-changing form of theatre, so the work can continue after Cardboard Citizens have left the area.

Rosehill staff and participants worked with Cardboard Citizen’s Terry O’Leary for three weeks, during which time they devised On the Edge: a play that tells the story of life after rehab, as one woman struggles to cope with the pressures of a new job and the reunion with her husband. A forum that followed the performance allowed the audience to explore the issues raised by the play and suggest alternative ways to deal with situations the characters found themselves in.

The residency was followed by two performances of Cardboard Citizens four-star acclaimed play Cathy, an adaptation of Ken Loach’s Cathy Come Home.

At Rosehill, we provide opportunities for local communities to explore the social issues that they face and encourage engagement and debate, as either an audience member or participant. Our involvement in the Citz National Residency has been pivotal in enabling us to shape our approach to working with marginalised communities. We are continuing to build on the success of our work with Cardboard Citizens and a new initiative, which is due to start in November 2017.

The Be The Change Network in Cumbria supports frontline workers connected to the homelessness sector to develop ideas, spread good practice and work together to end homelessness. For more information on future events, please contact Robbie Cowbury on

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Anne Timpson

Audience Development and Participation Manager

Anne is the Audience Development and Participation Manager at the Rosehill Theatre.

Twitter: @Rosehilltheatre

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