ARC Stockton Arts Centre

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Full Circle present The Keepers

The Keepers is a powerful new production created by learning disabled actors working in collaboration with professional theatre director Vici Wreford-Sinnott at ARC Stockton. It’s a piece about ‘not going back’ – about not going back to the old days, about not going back on promises, and about not going back to institutions for learning disabled people.

Full Circle have made their latest performance piece with a quickly changing world in mind and the fact that it’s easy to forget to respect people who are different, to leave them behind in the rush to move forward, and to forget to ask them about things that impact on their lives. Disabled people generally are concerned about the great uncertainty that impacts on their everyday lives.

Full Circle members believe passionately that disabled people must be listened to about their experiences and were inspired by a book which was created by a group of people who had left long term institutional hospitalisation. The book was created so that the stories of learning disabled people are neither lost nor forgotten.

Kenny, one of the actors, told us:

“Learning disabled people had no respect in the hospital. No-one listened to them and they had no choices.”

The Keepers is set on a remote island and follows the stories of a group of people who have been sent to live there against their wishes. In spite of attempts to remove their dignity, the group forge a role for themselves, and become the keepers of hidden promises, of invisible truths, and of stories untold. The piece speaks to the responsibility we all have to reveal unfairness and inequality in our local communities.

Andrea, another actor, said:

“We wanted to show that we are people with interesting things to say. We have a right to make choices about our lives, and we deserve to have the chance to share our ideas in a theatre with others. It’s our way of telling our own stories, and of trying to keep the promise that we will not forget what people have been through.”

The new piece of work premieres at ARC Stockton as part of a project called Cultural Shift, which aims to put disabled people centre-stage in a disabled-led way, ensuring that the ideas are all those of disabled people.

Vici Wreford-Sinnott is the Creative Lead on the project, and is used to creating pioneering work with disabled people:

“I have had the pleasure and privilege of working with Full Circle for the last five years. They are a remarkable group of people, of theatre makers who have developed a unique signature style – physical, visual work with a brilliant sound track and themes of comedy even in the most powerful of work. It’s really surprising and entertaining.”

She continued:

“The group usually play to packed houses, and we hope to fill ARC again this time for a particularly significant performance at this time in the company’s development, in a social climate which presents significant challenges for disabled people”.

The Keepers will be performed on 9 November at 1.30pm and 7.00pm. Tickets are on a Pay What You Decide basis but should be booked in advance via ARC’s box office on 01642 525199 or online here:  The Keepers