Northern Glasshouse

Posted on: 23 April 2013

Written by: Terry O'Leary

Last week Cardboard Citizens’ Glasshouse by Kate Tempest took to the road for a mini northern tour to Preston, Hull and Oxford.

We arrived at Lancaster University and got settled in to our cosy student rooms on campus. Our audience that night were made up of drama students, social workers and groups from the various homeless organizations. The Forum as ever was lively and loud. Unsurprisingly, benefit sanctions were a particularly hot topic. This is when claimants have their benefits stopped by the Jobcentre for a minimum of 4 weeks. It’s hard to believe in 2013 people’s only lifeline are food parcels.

The following day we ran a day-long workshop using Theatre of the Oppressed techniques with the same mixed group to make three Forum pieces. I’m always amazed at the final outcomes groups come up with in such a short amount of time. Really touching stuff.

Later on we were back in the van and dashing over to Hull to perform to a mix of third year social workers and drama students. Quite a few were there because of the writer Kate Tempest. Great show and a great Forum. As ever we could have gone on longer but time was against us. Once again we were well looked after by our generous hosts.

Back in the van to our night stop- Watford Gap. That’s right; we stayed in a motel at the services station. Not sure what they made of the girls huddled together in a couple of phone boxes having our final fag and sheltering from the gale-force winds. Of the glamour of it all.

We finally woke up to a beautiful sunny day as we made our way to Crisis Skylight at Oxford where we played our final show. Then home. Thanks to everyone who made it a grand adventure.

Here is some of the feedback from Prof. Mark Foord from the University of Lancashire who organised our visit up in Preston:

"The feedback has been tremendous and in some cases very moving. A number of the homelessness agencies have contacted me to say they want to find a way to continue arts and creativity work with people experiencing homelessness in Preston. One social worker told me it led him to question the whole basis of how he works with homeless people."

With thanks to

Arts Council England Lottery funded