Populace is a theatre company which re-invigorates political theatre with a sense of inclusivity, vibrancy and optimism. We have made shows at various venues including the Bush Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Lyric Hammersmith, Ovalhouse, The Junction and Rich Mix. From flash mob ballets to guerrilla gardening, Populace finds a way to instil agency in its audiences and show that politics is by no means just for politicians.
Populace has won two IdeasTap briefs, runs an annual event “Reclaim The Future” asking artists to respond to current events and is currently shortlisted for the IdeasTap Underbelly Award. The theatre company has been featured in both the Guardian and the Independent as making waves in political theatre and was the first company to make a rapid-response protest piece in reaction to the anti-homosexuality laws in Russia.
HOW DID WE BEGIN?
Founders Tom Ross-Williams, Tor Lupton Jessica Barker-Wren were present at the Cuts protests outside Fortnum&Mason on March 26th 2011 and Populace was founded as a response. We felt that the subsequent arrests (the majority arrested were peaceful protestors inside F&M) shut down political discourse and undermined the democratic right to protest. Populace was founded to reignite the dialogue quashed by the arrests on 26th and look at the import and meaning of protest, taking up issues in need of a platform.
We planned with David Lan to stage six thirty minute ‘Theatrical Occupations’ of the Young Vic Building on the weekend of the Royal Wedding (when those arrested on 26th were banned from Westminster) which would encourage political agency and optimism in the audience with an invitation to participate in the next performance. This plan did not come to fruition as the theatre decided to close at the last minute, but with the great addition of Lucy Wray, we didn’t stop there…