2017 Newsletter

Catch up on what we have been up to over the last 12 months with our 2017 newsletter below. If you would like to be added to our mailing list to receive updates on our productions and how you can support our work, click here. We will never share your information and you can change your mind at any time.

A Huge Thank You!
We’re feeling festive here at The Big House HQ with our final drop-in session before Christmas underway.It has been an extraordinarily busy year for The Big House and we’d like to thank everyone who came down to see our Autumn Open House Project Phoenix Rising and all those who have been involved with The Big House this year.From workshops with The Donmar Warehouse and The Royal Court, to an exclusive viewing of the premiere of Henry IV directed by Phyllida Lloyd at the Mayfair Hotel and a performance for The Fore Foundation and David Cameron, our members haven’t had a moments rest this year!  The list goes on: some of our members have been cast in our patron Ed Skrein’s latest film, other members have been busy writing and directing their own movies, one studying film at university and another has been cast as the lead in a full length commercial feature. We have also been approached by RADA and ALRA who saw Phoenix Rising and are now interested in offering both workshops and places to our young people in the future. The Soho Theatre have also offered places to our young people on their training courses.The Big House Means Business has taken our members to Buckingham Palace to demonstrate how empathy can increase productivity in the work place, to Manchester and Birmingham to coach senior leaders at Barclays on how to get the best out of their teams and  demonstrated how to lead through a period of change at Historic England. Confidence and team building away days for Mala Engineering and Personal Skills workshops for State Street Bank have all kept the members busy and well paid as they share the skills learned at The Big House.The Big House Means Business has worked with 300 trainee social workers in a series of interactive workshops at Warwick University this year, giving them a taste of the kind of challenges they will face in the future. The young people also got the chance to change and inform practise by sharing their own frustrations with the system.

Following the huge success of our latest production Phoenix Rising in the underground of Smithfield Meat Market and three OFFIE nominations for Best Lighting Designer, Best Director and Best Lead Actor (and a sprinkle of 5**** reviews under our belts, but who’s counting?), it is time our members took a well-deserved rest over Christmas…

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If you missed the show, renowned photographer Rick Findler’s photo journal of the Project from rehearsals to performance can be found here:


If you saw the show – but still want more – you can check out some of our reviews here:

Broadway World 5*****
“Thought-provoking and meticulously structured”Spy in the Stalls 5*****
“A brave and honest piece of storytelling”Islington Gazette 5*****
“Intelligent, magnetic and raw with emotion”Theatre Weekly 5*****
“a deeply emotional piece of drama”Everything Theatre 5*****
“Magnetic and impending”

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A Big House Christmas Carol…
We thought it good spirited to give you an update on what our members have achieved in the past few months. What better way to do this than through a carol?

On the 12 days of Christmas, the Big House members achieved: 
3  joined the National Youth Theatre
6 performed at FrontLine Summer Conference
5 performed at the Fore Foundation Launch
1 has just released their first music single
2  started College this autumn
and 1 university
1 has set up their own company selling smoothies and juices
1 gained a place at the prestigious East 15 School of Acting
6 have taken part in their first professional film
2 have filmed for a BBC series
1 for an HBO series and 1 for a Netflix series
have just been signed to the Agency 42
1 has just been signed to the agency Curtis Brown
And a partridge in a Pear Tree.

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Brixton Rock
The gifted Ned Bennett directed the Open House Project Brixton Rock in March 2017. His next production will be transferring to the National in Spring – we can’t wait to see it! A huge thank you to him and his team for such an incredible production.

This year we have continued to assist our homeless members with their housing needs and have developed connections with housing referral agencies across London. We’d like to say a particular thank you to New Horizons, Shelter from the Storm, Stonewall Housing, Crisis and Sapphire Independent Housing for their great work and support of some of our members and we are delighted to see previously homeless members now in secure long term accommodation.

Looking Towards the New Year….
The Big House has won the tender to deliver workshops in Pupil Refer Units in Islington and we look forward to delivering our programme in January

And finally – having been selected for the Islington bid for the Borough of Culture 2019, all our fingers are crossed for the results early next year!

But enough from us. Who better to hear from about how the year has been than our members themselves? We’ll leave you with their experiences, and from us…

…a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! See you in January 2018!

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Performing in front of David Cameron with such brilliant actors was an exhilarating experience.  To perform it for the guests at Temple Place and the Fore Foundation was an honour! I think the extract of the play and all the dedicated actors did it real justice.
-Member of The Big House
Boxing with Kate and Sammy the trainer was great and made me realise I needed an outlet, (and how unfit I was!!). The project as a whole has been life changing and has done so much to encourage me to try new things outside my comfort zone.
-Member of The Big House
I found working with Ed Skrein on his short film absolutely wonderful. Ed really knew what it was he was looking for. We had a number of rehearsals which made bringing his vision to life much easier to grasp and took the pressure off my first time shooting a film. It was the perfect environment to work in and I just want to say thank you to everyone involved. It was a treat to work with everyone. I hope we carry on getting great chances like this!
Buddy and Member of The Big HousePerforming in Phoenix Rising was special. I gained so much from this journey. A better relationship with myself, friendships and an empowering way to confront my own demons. The Big House have my back and I am grateful for that.
-Actor in Phoenix Rising

A Letter from a Care Leaver in the Audience of Phoenix Rising

I must say I was really taken aback by the show. As I mentioned to a couple of you yesterday I literally cried the whole way through. I didn’t expect to have that reaction at all and can honestly say that I’ve never reacted to any thing quite like that before.

Aside from the obvious factors, I believe it’s because, the world of the play, transported me back. Back to a world in which I lived. A world I’d managed to ‘escape’ in some ways. I use that term lightly because I’m not ashamed of my past, nor embarrassed to tell people where I’m from. The friends, the parties, the social workers, the drugs, sex all of it. The scene where the Mum said ‘take my teeth, take my bones, but don’t take my kids”, threw me right back to the moment my mum threw a table at the social workers as they took us all away. The skanky bedsit, shitty walls and crappy little sofa. The frustration when the social workers tell you to calm down. When you’ve watched your family be broken into tiny little pieces and you feel worthless. The loss, at losing everyone but also losing a sister for years to the system. All of these things… this world you created. This world that made me cry because I felt like a character in this play instead of a bystander watching in. I lived it with the cast, moment to moment, because it was ACCURATE. The feelings of just wanting to go home, really just wanting your Mum. Just wanting a chance and never understanding why it always has to be soo much harder for us. Those feelings and realities that this show had and felt were real. More real than I’ve ever felt from any performance I’ve ever seen.

Between your direction, the writing and the passion of the cast, you portrayed real life in front of me. Yes there were abstract moments, but in all, it was life as we know it. And that’s why I cried, I cried because I felt like a ten year old watching her past and present in front of her. Watching her family and friends.
I find this amazing, because that means that what you are showing people who don’t come from that world is honest work. An honest portrayal of a difficult life. A hard world to be born into and this is needed and so important. Even is 10% of the audience walk away with a better understanding of what that life is like then great. If next time at least 5% of them stop before they judge the ‘trouble maker’ or brand the young Mum a waste of space… great! Because every step is a step towards a future where people stop to understand instead of stop to judge.
Thank you all so much for that!

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