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Beanstalk tall story mixes fun with serious message

Posted on December 1, 2017

An all-ability cast is rehearsing a panto with a point to make – about being “different.”  Members of Centre 81 are staging their home-spun version of the classic Jack and the Beanstalk tale.  But, amid the fun and jokes, the production questions whether the giant is really a “baddie” after all – or is just treated like one because he is different to other people.

The cast have a range of physical and learning disabilities. Some are wheelchair users, others have no sight or speech. But they are all taking part in the annual show, and enjoying it, said assistant facilitator Robert Caley.  “It takes about a year to prepare. The members help write the script, make the scenery, props and costumes,” he added.

The show involves a 13-strong cast who are supported by staff and volunteers from the centre in Tar Works Road which runs a series of skills and activities sessions to enrich the lives of 70 members, with disabilities resulting from illness or accident.

There is even a bit of reality TV laced in, with a scene where the giant goes on a lie detector on the Jeremy Kyle Show to prove he is a good guy after all.   Mr Caley added: “The giant has had a bad press over the years. But he is actually someone who is actually minding his own business then has people come along and steal his possessions.”

After the traditional tale of beans, stalks and golden eggs, there is a happy-ever-after ending with everyone living at Centre 81 in harmony.

The cast members are: John Solomon, Nicky Welsh, Wayne Brooks, Sam Potts, Carmela Ewels, Lorraine Pearce, Julie Swindlehurst, Jordan Richardson, Linda Page, Darren Hoare, Paul Williams, Kathryn Hanton, Rob McCartney.

Cast member Jordan Richardson said: “It’s great fun and has helped me to become more confident.”

The show is at the King’s Centre in Queen Anne’s Road, off Suffolk Road, on Wednesday December 6th at 2pm with anyone invited to attend. Admission is free but a raffle in aid of the Centre 81 Players and any donations welcome.

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