Meet the Community Chorus | Twelfth Night

Community Chorus members dancing. Photography by Johan Persson

Our musical adaptation of Twelfth Night cast includes a 60-strong Community Chorus of  non-professional performers from across our local boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth.

Kaleya Baxe, who is currently on placement with our Taking Part team has been meeting with some of the Community Chorus in order to find out more about this fascinating, talented and diverse group of performers.

Our work with young people and our local communities is a major part of our artistic life. At a deep level, it complements and enhances each of the shows we produce.

Our Taking Part team engage with over 15,000 people a year. We offer young people and our neighbours free tickets to all our shows. We also run a wide range of projects, from skills based workshops to a chance to perform on one of our stages.

Take a look at our website to find out more about Taking Part and how you can get involved.

Catherine Coker

Cathy

One day after I’d retired I was going round the back of the Young Vic and I saw all these children so I went and stood in the doorway to see what they were doing- I have an awfully curious mind unfortunately. Suddenly, a man came out and counted me in with them! So I followed them into a room with a piano and he asked us to sing but unfortunately I couldn’t remember all the words. So I thought, Ella Fitzgerald didn’t use words, here we go: da ba da dip da ba baa da ba! I went home laughing the whole way. Then the next morning they called and said, you’re going to join us, aren’t you? And I thought, what have I done?! But I found myself in a most beautiful production and have been in many ever since.

Vanessa Doidge

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I got involved in the Young Vic originally through work ’cause I worked in drug, alcohol and mental health. I signed up through my work so that I could support clients to come and take part in workshops and watch some of the plays cause a lot of people had never been to the theatre before. It’s been a real confidence boost particularly this year where I lost quite a bit of confidence in my previous job so doing Twelfth Night has kind of boosted me up a little bit cause I felt like I couldn’t really do anything and I was a bit useless, I’m just gonna sit at home and cry.  But now I got involved with this and I thought actually, I’m not useless and I can do things and it’s just kind of pushed me forward. I also got a job interview and I got the job because I felt more confident so, yeah I think this experience at this time has been really good.

Sarah Trustman

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I first got involved with the Young Vic when the Taking Part team did a performance with a Year 9 class in one of the spaces at the Young Vic performed with a proper set and costume and script writers. I thought it was an amazing thing for the students because there’s not much availability for young people to have access to theatre, and also a lot of them were black or from mixed ethnic backgrounds which they felt like at the time, this is 2012, wasn’t as represented as it is now. Nowadays pretty much everything that my students see has been through the YV free ticket scheme which is so good because with a class of 20 when a West End ticket costs £45, it’s never gonna happen. And these students come from quite poor backgrounds, our free school meal percentage is something like 64%, it’s really high so it just means they have access to really high quality performance where they feel like they’re welcome and they’re represented.

Millie Lynch Bailey

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This experience has been really different because I’ve done two other chorusey things and both of those were only young women, so it was me and other girls my age, whereas this is the first time it’s been a totally diverse chorus in every sense; in age, in gender, in race. There are people who are teachers and people who are students and people who work in offices- like there’s one girl studying law so it’s just a completely different bunch. In this I get to make friends with people who I almost certainly would not have met otherwise.

Neil Penlington

Neil

I danced with Matthew Bourne from 1995 to 2006, so the original cast Swan Lake and then every show in between, Cinderella, Carmen, Highland Fling, Spitfire to name a few. Having previously been in the theatre and then coming back in a very different guise, there’s kind of this secret shroud here the minute you walk in, you just feel protected. I think what the Young Vic does here, you never feel like you’re community chorus, you always feel equal from the beginning really. And the principle cast, they’re a phenomenal bunch of people and they just all make us feel as one. I think that comes across in the show. But yeah, there’s a real sense of community and that’s what the Young Vic’s all about really.

Eddy Queens

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How I got involved in the Young Vic was doing a show called See Me Now about prostitution and sex workers. Because I’m a recovering addict and I used to prostitute myself, my friend told me about the show so I got involved and got the part. But the thing was that during rehearsals, I don’t want to get emotional but I was actually informed that my mother had passed and the team were fantastic and really held me you know? Then we were in rehearsals when the show went to Edinburgh and I got the call saying my dad had passed and I just felt like, every time I was at the YV I got the news but I was so grateful because had I not been at the YV I don’t know what I would have done you know, I mean, I’ve been clean now 8 years but because I had a commitment to the Young Vic it really kept me going.

Chris McGoldrick

Chris M

I’m a musician originally from Glasgow but been in London for 35 years now. Working with the Young Vic, there isn’t a highlight- there’s lots of highlights. For me when I feel really good is doing a great show like this is good fun you know and you’re in a better mood when you leave the building than when you came in, so that’s good. But for me it’s just kinda a selfish thing and that’s to get a free education in theatre making.

Pixie Maddison

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I’ve always sort of drifted through life, my big joke was that my ambition was to have an ambition. I was homeless for a while and I’d just got myself sorted out and a friend of mine said, oh there’s a play about homelessness at the Young Vic do you wanna get involved? Yeah why not? So I came along and I ended up doing a bit where I told a story about when I was in care and I had 9 backing singers and I gradually climbed up this white sweeping staircase and sang ‘You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman’. And suddenly, I was one line ahead and I had the audience, I could make them cry, I could make them laugh, I just felt so empowered. And I thought, I’m gonna do this.

Twelfth Night runs at the Young Vic until 17 November. Tickets are now sold out but you can contact our Welcome Team on the day for returns and we operate a returns queue before each performance. Call our Welcome Team on 020 7922 2922.

https://youngvic.org/whats-on/the-convert

Twelfth Night | Behind the Scenes with our Community Chorus

Come backstage with us, to the loud and bubbly atmosphere of the dressing rooms where our fantastic Community Chorus are getting ready for a performance of Twelfth Night.

Many have a pre-existing love of the theatre – some participating in previous Taking Part community productions, some totally new to the stage.

The 60-strong Young Vic Community Chorus for Twelfth Night spans many different backgrounds, generations and stories. The youngest chorus member is 18, whilst the oldest is in her mid-80s.

Cathy, 86, spent her working life in war zones for the United Nations. She can now be found on the Young Vic stage 4 nights a week. After a spell in Matthew Bourne’s company, Neil found himself homeless, which is how he came to be in Go Between, a Young Vic Taking Part production which was performed by a company who had all had some form of contact with homelessness, either directly or indirectly. Neil now works for St Mungo’s, and brought a group from the hostel to see him perform.

They share the stage with 18, 19 and 20 year-olds who come from our local boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth.

Amongst the backstage hubbub, we captured some quieter moments to gain an insight into what happens behind the scenes of our “joyous and dazzlingly colourful musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedy at the Young Vic.

Young Vic Twelfth Night - Community Chorus © Leon Puplett-02208

Community chorus preparing for the stage. Photo by Leon Puplett.

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Community chorus preparing for the stage. Photo by Leon Puplett.

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Lending a hand. Photo by Leon Puplett.

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Doing hair in the dressing room. Photo by Leon Puplett.

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Final checks backstage. Photo by Leon Puplett.

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Some extra curricular. Photo by Leon Puplett.

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Seeing it from the audience’s perspective. Photo by Leon Puplett.

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Backstage excitement of some of our Community Chorus. Photo by Leon Puplett.

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The community atmosphere, on stage. Photo by Leon Puplett.

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Watching from the wings. Photo by Leon Puplett.

Twelfth Night runs at the Young Vic until 19 Nov. Book Tickets now.

Head to our website to find out more about Taking Part and how you can get involved in their future projects, workshops and productions.

★★★★★ “A timeless, fantastical production of colour, song, and movement” | The Suppliant Women reviews

The fantastic reviews are rolling in for The Suppliant Women, which is currently storming our Main House with a chorus of over 50 people from our local communities.

★★★★★
“A timeless, fantastical production of colour, song, and movement” 

The Independent | Read the full review

★★★★★
“Outstanding…pungent modern resonances” 

The Telegraph | Read the full review

★★★★★
“Remarkable…choral power unleashed” 

Whatsonstage | Read the full review

YOUNG VIC - THE SUPPLIANT WOMEN 2017

The chorus of The Suppliant Women led by Gemma May. © Stephen Cummiskey

★★★★
“An experience of overwhelming potency…awakens a renewed faith in the future” 

The Times | Read the full review

★★★★
“Pulsating urgency…rousingly topical” 

The Evening Standard | Read the full review

★★★★
“A fierce, beautiful staging of Aeschylus’s drama” 

Financial Times | Read the full review

★★★★
“A community chorus gives tremendous power to this witty adaptation of Aeschylus’s ancient play” 

Time Out | Read the full review

The Suppliant Women runs until 25 November with very limited availability on a few nights and a returns queue operating for all performances. Click here to find out more and book tickets.

 

Getting involved in Wild Swans

Wild Swans in rehearsal

It was by pure chance that I came across the casting call for the community chorus for Wild Swans. I happened to be in Chinatown one afternoon to do a bit of grocery shopping with my friend and if I hadn’t dropped by a snack store out of curiosity and bought something, I wouldn’t have seen the flyers sitting by the counter, calling out to be picked up and looked at. I took up the opportunity to experience what being part of a professional production would be like, being a bit of a theatre enthusiast myself; I’d never seen a real team at work, and to perform at the Young Vic, even if part of a chorus, seemed like something that would never otherwise have appeared possible. Wild Swans presents the dramatic political history of China on an English stage and is definitely something that is fresh, exciting, and unconventional. The behind-the-scenes experience I have had so far has been amazing, and even though it’s only been two weeks so far, my understanding of how professional theatre works has already grown exponentially. I cannot wait for the entire production to come together and for the audience to experience its power.

Ian, a community chorus member of Wild Swans