Winchester's ambitious inclusive Blue Apple Theatre company is currently touring HAMLET starring actors with Downs syndrome and other learning disabilities to mainstream stages from the Minack to the Yvonne Arnaud Mill Studio Guildford and has just been named as the 1,000th winner of The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service 2012.
Blue Apple Theatre aims to produce entertaining, engaging theatre which raises the ceiling of expectation and opportunity for performers with learning disabilities and challenges pre-conceptions.
"We are extremely delighted that the Queen has chosen to recognise the amazing commitment and help from our many volunteers today and over the years," says Founding Director Jane Jessop. "They help us change lives, put on great theatre, challenge prejudice and promote understanding between people from different communities."
To mark the World Shakespeare Festival and the 2012 Olympic spirit, the company has been touring a fresh, funny, fearless and romantic adaptation of HAMLET starring six actors with learning disabilities (4 of whom have Down's syndrome) to mainstream stages from the Minack in Cornwall to the Yvonne Arnaud Mill Studio Theatre in Guildford speaking Shakespeare's words.
Some audience members have travelled to see the play twice. People have said things like "one of the most stirring performances I've seen, superb" "Hamlet was fantastic. I was gripped throughout""moving and inspiring, wonderful " "Great storytelling," "beautiful and moving."
OTHER WORK: The company will re-tour LIVING WITHOUT FEAR this autumn-a hard-hitting drama which looks at difficult issues around disability hate crime. Blue Apple's DVD Freddie's Story was released in 2011 in response to Mencap's Death by Indifference report is a training film used by NHS hospital trusts around the UK.
Blue Apple Theatre has a membership of nearly 50 people with learning disabilities, and over 40 volunteers. The company could not exist without the help of its volunteers on and off stage which include people of all ages and abilities from sixth formers to retired people, graduates and people with so called disabilities.
For more information about Blue Apple Theatre's May tour and how to buy tickets for Hamlet or purchase the Freddie's Story DVD, book a performance of Living Without Fear, or any other project, please visit Blue Apple's website at www.blueappletheatre.com.