The Arcola’s over-50s group performs As You Like It for Creative Disruption 2019.
Photograph: Lidia Crisafulli

Hackney’s diverse communities will take centre stage when the Arcola Theatre’s Creative Disruption Festival returns next February for the fifth year running.

The five-week event will feature ten productions by members of the theatre’s award-winning participation programme, including the Queer Collective, the 50+ Group and the Women’s Company.

Each year, the Arcola offers over 13,000 opportunities for young people, schools and community groups to get involved in the arts.

Participation manager Bec Martin-Williams said: “Creative Disruption is made up of the stories of our community – an extraordinary range of people, aged eight to 88, from many different walks of life.

“They are the lifeblood of this theatre, and their creativity is at the heart of this festival.”

Theatre Ala-Turka
The Ala-Turka Company, pictured in 2018. Photograph: courtesy Arcola Theatre

The Mental Health Theatre Group will stage its reimagining of Thomas Middleton and William Rowley’s Jacobean tragedy The Changeling.

Lysistrata, Aristophanes’ play about sexual relations in a male-dominated society, will be performed by the over-50s collective.

Arcola Academy, the theatre’s semi-professional company for people aged 16 to 25, will put on Days of Significance, Roy Williams’ response to Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing about young casualties of war.

The bard’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be performed by the Ala-Turka Company, made up of people from Hackney’s Turkish and Kurdish communities.

The Queer Collective, the Women’s Company and the Arcola Youth Theatre, for 13 to 15-year-olds, will each premiere their own, original plays.

All performances will be open to the public, with tickets priced at £15 or under, and Pay What You Can tickets will be available for the first performance of the majority of shows.

For the first time, the majority of performances in the Festival will be ‘relaxed’, improving access to those who prefer a less restrictive environment.

This may include people with learning disabilities, movement and autistic spectrum disorders, other neurological conditions, those with young children or babies, and people with Tourettes.

The Arcola’s access development manager James York said: “Community theatre is about opening the door to everyone. But too often, the theatre environment itself is a barrier – especially for disabled audiences.

“Arcola is proud to be expanding our relaxed performance offering to cover the majority of the Creative Disruption festival, making it more welcoming and accessible than ever before.”

For more information, including the festival timetable and how to book tickets, head to

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