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Members of a Dagenham charity take part in ‘amazing opportunity’ with National Theatre’s Public Acts

PUBLISHED: 13:00 25 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

Dagenham residents are part of a new initiative that has helped to transformed 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.

DABD, a charity that supports people with disabilities,has 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.

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 Post caught up with Jamie from DABD and his father, Richard and Saroj from the Havering Asian Welfare Association (Haswa) who are also partners in the project.

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

Jamie is part of the chorus in Pericles, 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.

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’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 and actresses.

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 group 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.

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

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

Richard said: “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.

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

The proud dad said: “Watching the group from the moment that we all get together, about eight or nine weeks ago, we didn’t really know what to expect of them.

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

Elaine James, CEO of DABD, said “We jumped at the chance to be involved in the Public Acts initiative – what an opportunity to make our first foray into the arts world, work with such prestigious partners as National Theatre and Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch.

“We have seen our participants confidence grow so much since the programme started and now we can’t wait to see their hard work pay off in the production of Pericles this summer.”

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

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