Blog: Cathy begins the journey home

Posted on: 06 February 2017

Written by: Charlie Marshall

With just one week left of our Cathy UK tour, our Programme Director Michael Chandler reflects on the astonishing first month of our Northern leg of an epic five month tour and talks about our eventful Doncaster performance.

Next stop in our northern tour, after some amazing shows in Newcastle – Doncaster. A city that’s changed just in the three years we’ve been touring to it. And to Cast in Doncaster, a symbolic venue in our recent national touring. In 2014, we brought our first big national tour, Glasshouse, to a recently opened Cast, bringing with us an audience of homeless and ex-homeless people that hadn’t been to the theatre before, let alone to the brand new venue. Then in 2015 we returned with Benefit, and with the first ever of our experimental ‘interactive live stream’ of that national tour – which was a massive success, and quickly hailed as a "pioneering approach to genuinely participatory live streaming’".So, when the date for Cast was set for Cathy, it made sense that we made this the venue of our live streaming. 

Come January 2017 we embarked on our next 'interactive live streaming’ international event with our friends at Pilot Theatre. And once more, as with Sheffield and Manchester, it was a sell-out audience. And it was even more of a success than Benefit. Double the audience and trending on Twitter from the morning of the event. It was a great performance, a superb live audience, and an amazing and exciting online audience. 

But again – step out the theatre, off the internet and into the real world, and the issue of rough sleeping is all too present. The roads and doorways around the Frenchgate shopping centre inhabited by people trying to escape the cold. Less noticeable than Manchester Piccadilly but more apparent than when we were first here in 2014. 

One thing we have quickly learned on our tours and through our residencies is that the reasons people become homeless can be as different as the regions we are in, but there are many familiar stories we’ve heard in our Forums and our projects, from Bristol to Cumbria. And the impact of being homeless, regardless of where you are, is no less profound. 

Next stop for me is our Barnsley show, where Shadow Secretary for Housing John Healey MP will be joining us.

There's still a few days to catch Cathy before the tour comes to an end on 11 February. Visit our Cathy page for dates and venues.