No Place Like Home
A Community Theatre Project in partnership with Abbey People, supported by Cambridge City Council.
No Place Like Home was a community theatre project which took place in Spring and early Summer 2016. We primarily engaged and worked with individuals living in Abbey, in the North East of Cambridge. Our aim was to ensure that everyone who got involved with the project – for whatever length of time, in whatever way – had a place and opportunity to reflect upon what HOME meant to them. Activities included regular drama workshops at the Abbey Meadows Community Wing which were open and free to anyone who wished to join; recorded and written interviews about HOME with members of the public at local events in Abbey; 2 live performances of a play co-written by participants in the workshops.
“Home is: where I belong; a place I always go back to; a place where love is; where I‘m accepted.”
Over 30 different individuals contributed towards the final production, including someone who was under threat eviction from their house, yet who came to nearly every single workshop and contributed towards the writing of the final performance; someone whose unhappy home life was matched by a spirit of never giving in or feeling self-pity; someone who found a new identity within the community as a result of their participation; an immigrant from Yemen who insisted that ‘Home’ was in a small corner of Abbey. Together, we found HOME in all sorts of surprising places.
Participants in the weekly workshops came from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences – working, not working, retired, on maternity leave, single parents, married, living alone, almost homeless, happily housed, immigrant, Geordie, Barnwell-born-and-bred, New Yorker… We mixed music and drama with impromptu conversations and arguments about what ‘Home’ meant to everyone. Not all of it was happy, positive or nurturing.
“I don’t know any more. It used to be community-orientated. But where I live it don’t seem like that any more.”
But it all contributed. The public performance was an adaptation of Homer’s ‘Odysseus’, which tells the story of Odysseus’ 10-year journey back home to Ithaca from the Trojan War while his faithful wife Penelope waits at home beseiged by offers of marriage from suitors. We turned this on its head, focussing equally on Penelope’s story. The play explored what home means in our dreams, as somewhere to reach or wish for, against what home means to the people actually living there. Unlike Homer’s epic, which ends with a reconciliation between the husband and wife, our play culminates in Penelope leaving the home upon Odysseus’ return. She is unwilling to live under his suspicious eyes, jealous mind, and dominant ways.
But to see what you’ve become. Your prize? Your trophy? No. This is a house I must leave. My home is elsewhere. So I free myself of you. I free myself of waiting. Home? I don’t know where it is anymore. But if I close my eyes I’m there, it’s perfect. Goodbye Odysseus. Close your eyes.
As part of the performance, we included specially made drawings by Tony Clark, one of the regular workshop attendees. He was inspired by the Odysseus and Penelope story, and we used them as projections during the performance. You can see some of these original artworks below.
To read the script of the play, follow this link: No Place Like Home – script for July 10th and 12th performances
To read some short, poignant interviews about Home, follow this link: No Place Like Home – Anonymised interviews
For full album of photos from performance at Cambridge Junction, follow this link: