Cathy Come Home watched by thousands

Posted on: 11 July 2016

Written by: Charlie Marshall

Last Tuesday a community ensemble of more than 20 Cardboard Citizens’ Members performed the first ever theatrical adaptation of Ken Loach’s seminal film Cathy Come Home in a one-off performance described as “remarkable” by the Guardian. 

An audience of more than 1,400 watched the incredible cast, all of whom have experience of homelessness, in Tony McBride’s triumphant production at London’s iconic Barbican Hall, while thousands more around the world tuned in to our live stream. 

Following the show a panel including Loach himself, BBC journalist Samira Ahmed, our Artistic Director and Founder Adrian Jackson, Shelter's CEO Campbell Robb, Mercury Prize nominated musician Eska and Deputy Mayor for Housing James Murray brought the still prevalent themes in Cathy Come Home bang up to date in a powerful debate about the state of homelessness that covered everything from Brexit to Jeremy Corbyn.

Thanks to all our supporters watching live both at home and in the Barbican audience, #CathyComeHome was trending on Twitter throughout as the general public joined in the debate McBride’s stirring and imaginative production sparked.

As the Guardian’s four star review said: “Whether or not art changes anything is open to debate but, as this event defiantly proved, it has the capacity to stir hearts and minds.”

Don’t forget, this is just the start of the discussion that Cathy’s story has begun for us at Cardboard Citz – you can book now for many of the venues we’ll be visiting from October with our brand new Forum Theatre show that looks at a modern day version of the story, Cathy.

Quotes and reactions:

Eamon from Leeds: “As a homeless man living in Leeds I don't get out much, being able to see such a great show was fantastic… I have spent the last seven months living in shame at being homeless but seeing the performance has lifted it from me even though we live in a toxic period of this counties history. Thank you. It gave me a voice.”

**** The Guardian: “It was a remarkable event that produced contradictory emotions: admiration for the original work and anger at the fact that the situation it describes has got worse rather than better... what was moving about McBride’s production was seeing the 22-strong cast re-create the original work with such passion and energy… they took us into the world of tenements, hostels and campsites as if evoking a whole society." Read the full article here.

Tony Garnett, Producer of the original film, after watching rehearsals: “Art changes nothing, but it can make our hearts and our heads aware and ashamed. That creates room and a desire for political change. I know the transforming quality of art for those taking part. Now your drama might transform the audience too.”

**** The Reviews Hub: “Cardboard Citizens’ adaptation stokes the same sense of righteous anger as audiences felt 50 years ago, and makes one wonder how much more it would take for real action on homelessness to finally take root.” Read the full article here.

We’d love to hear your reactions – join the conversation on Twitter using #CathyComeHome


With thanks to

Arts Council England Lottery funded