The Ballad of St John’s Car Park celebrates the positive power of community activism in Medway, from the protested closure of Chatham’s Dockyard in 1984 to the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. This important immersive and site-specific theatre production brings a professional creative team, a community ensemble of over 200 people and Icon’s award-winning young people’s programme Theatre31 into collaboration.
Taking inspiration from the true stories of activism in Medway, The Ballad of St John’s Car Park explores how they have shaped the identities of individuals and the community, including the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020; the protested closure of Chatham’s Dockyard in 1984; Trans and LGBTQI+ activism that led to the establishment of Medway’s First Pride March in 2019; and local young people who took part in the Greta Thunberg climate protests in 2018. The stories are interspersed with spectacular projection, joyous dance and uplifting karaoke song, bringing these poignant stories to life in vivid ways. After the show, the bar and karaoke will stay open for an inclusive community party like no other where the audience can perform their own karaoke songs.
The production has been created by a professional and community ensemble, directed by Icon Theatre’s Artistic Director Nancy Hirst. The Ballad of St John’s Car Park was initially inspired by a small group of local residents who successfully campaigned to rename a local car park during the Black Lives Matter movement that previously commemorated the name of a slave trader. The production is an Icon Theatre production and has been co-commissioned by Medway Council and Creative Estuary’s Co-commission programme – the initiative which aims to showcase 60 miles of the North Kent and South Essex region as one of the UK’s most dynamic and creative areas in the whole of the UK.
Icon Theatre’s Artistic Director, Nancy Hirst commented, Since our production of If Not Now in February 2022, we’ve been looking forward to bringing professional theatre-makers and our local community together again to create another large-scale community production. Right now, we are at an important moment in our national history where our right to protest has been significantly restricted by recent legislation. This show looks at moments in Medway’s history where protest has had profound and positive change for both individuals and society. Medway will again become Icon’s stage; we will be transforming Chatham’s iconic The St George Hotel into a Karaoke bar like no other.
Creative Estuary’s Director, Emma Wilcox says This project exemplifies our vision for the Creative Estuary Co-commissioning programme, to enable bold, ambitious work to be made with and for the communities of the estuary. It showcases the huge talent we have within our creative organisations and tells the stories of our inspiring places.
The Ballad of St John’s Car Park follows Icon Theatre’s If Not Now (February 2022), a mass-movement production exploring poverty, prejudice, and the climate crisis performed at Rochester Castle as part of Medway’s Light Nights.
The St George Hotel, Chatham
Wednesday 5 – Saturday 8 October, 7:30pm (& 2:30pm Saturday)
Tickets £5 – £10
The Ballad of St John’s Car Park is an Icon Theatre Production co-commissioned by Creative Estuary and Medway Council supported by Arts Council England. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport funds the Cultural Development Fund which is administered by Arts Council England.