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Actors with learning disabilities make Crucible return

After a long Covid break, Under the Stars returns to the Crucible with two theatrical premieres.

Cathy Wragg as The Patient One and Anthony Hartley as 6677 Peters in Freedonia
Under the Stars

A performing arts organisation for people with learning disabilities or autism is set to premiere two new works at the Crucible Studio next week. The group, who are based at Burton Street in Hillsborough, last appeared at the theatre in 2019 when they performed an adaptation of King Lear.

Reviewers called it “unique and emotive” but, despite being keen to get started on their next performance preparation, Covid got in the way and meant no in-person rehearsals for an extended period of time. Like many groups, they adapted by going online.

Susan Harris plays Maria Rossini
Under the Stars

But, back together in person, they will soon be performing Freedonia and The Many Journeys of Maria Rossini in the iconic Sheffield theatre. The plays have original music, songs, costumes, staging and choreography by the Under the Stars cast, staff and volunteers.

Freedonia is set in a dystopian world where The Patient Ones monitor everything you do and think. You’re not even allowed to dream. But seeds of hope are being planted… can the residents change their world?“This play is about trying to be free in a futuristic world," said cast member Jodi Wright. "Something magical happens and we’re all free in the end.”

The Many Journeys of Maria Rossini is set in 16th century Sicily. Maria and her fellow villagers are subject to everything from volcanoes to plagues to tough rulers… can she save the day?

Performer Anne Marie Gray said, “The play is about taxes, being poor and if money buys happiness. And there’s a volcano!”

The themes of both plays, including hope, fear and isolation, took on additional significance during Covid. Under the Stars were keen to produce serious theatre and having to rehearse their Italian dances and greetings via Zoom did not get in their way.

“When we were finally all able to meet up in person for rehearsals again it made us appreciate what we had previously taken for granted – the ability to come together and freely explore creative ways of expressing situations," said director Steve Givnan.

“The shows have been a long time in the making and our actors have shown great perseverance. The cast are very excited to finally perform in front of a live audience.”

Learn more

Seats are filling fast for these one-night only performances on 31 May and 1 June . You can book here. The Under the Stars band, The Sparkle Sistaz, will perform an Italian-style vocal set before Wednesday night’s performance.

Under the Stars is dedicated to using creativity and the performing arts to enhance the lives of people with learning disabilities and / or autism. It holds weekly music, dance, drama and musical theatre workshops at its base and the City Limits Dance Centre.

Under the Stars also holds regular nightclub events at the Leadmill, open to people with learning disabilities and/or autism and their friends. All the DJs have learning disabilities and/or autism too.

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