The Ragroof Players create performance projects and bespoke events that celebrate social dance and popular theatre, both contemporary and historic.
At the core of the company’s work is the legendary Ragroof Players Tea Dance, a three-hour participatory event featuring vintage music, dazzling dance displays, instant dance classes and the opportunity for everyone to trip the light fantastic.
The company’s repertoire also includes a number of highly successful street theatre and site-specific shows, including Shall We Dance? Encore! which explores the history and social mores of partner dancing; and Bridges y Puentes, a show about migration, the search for home, and the intermingling of music and dance cultures. The Ragroof Players also create specially commissioned works in collaboration with other partners, including currently Our Dancing Feet, co-produced by Zap Art and Inroad Productions.
The Players also create individually tailored themed Parties and events; and offer Workshops in social and popular dance, including Ballroom, Latin, Swing, Charleston, and Eccentric Dance, amongst many other forms.
The Ragroof Players has four co-directors – Marion Duggan, Ivan Fabrega, Matthew Blacklock and Dorothy Max Prior – who work with a number of associate artists in the creation and delivery of their projects. The company co-directors first worked together as members of Ragroof Theatre (founded by Luan Blake), which was dissolved in 2013 following ten years of success as a street theatre and site-responsive arts company.
MARION DUGGAN is an artist, performer and co-director of The Ragroof Players, and was also a founding member of Ragroof Theatre. Marion’s interests lie in widening opportunities for people to engage in the arts. Often her work will involve in-depth research with communities, focusing on building and maintaining relationships. She has researched and developed oral history and reminiscence interview techniques, and using verbatim text in the devising processes. Marion takes great pride in the community that has built up through the Ragroof Tea Dances and is passionate about the shared experience of partner dancing and its preservation. She directs Bridges y Puentes, developing a new performance language for site-responsive, promenade performances. She devised and performed with Ragroof Theatre in Make Do and Mend and Shall We Dance? Encore! and was performance director for Gloves On.
Marion is on the board of directors for Clown Without Borders UK, she has fundraised and toured to Zimbabwe, India and Greek Refugee camps with the charity, providing psycho-social first aid to children living in crisis situations. Other work involves stage-management, and company management for The Ragroof Players and Red Herring Productions. She has trained in ensemble with Complicite, clown with Angela De Castro, Gerry Flanagan and Mick Barnfather, and storytelling at Emerson College.
MATTHEW BLACKLOCK is a co-director of The Ragroof Players He is currently leading on the companies latest project called Happy Feet, 100 years of dance crazes in 100 minutes. Matthew is committed to creating theatre with the aim of bringing people together, giving his audiences a sense of belonging to a community through a shared experience.
Matthew has previously worked at Theatre Royal Stratford East as an assistant director and trained and worked as an actor since graduating from East 15 Acting School in 2002. He has directed a number of fringe productions and has worked as a puppeteer and ballroom and Latin dancer. More recently Matthew created his own company called Dance Floor Activist. Dance Floor Activist is a movement to encourage people to get active and feel great. It's about moving and dancing to feel brilliant. It's about stepping, shimmying strutting your way to happiness. It's about being part of a community dedicated to being active, present and involved. We won't change the world in one big leap by activating the dance floor. But small steps can lead to big changes and to better things.
IVAN FABREGA is a performer, dancer and choreographer. He trained in acrobatics, trapeze, dance and performance skills at the Circus Space, London; Fool Time, Bristol; and Chalon-sur-Saône, France. He has trained in clown with Gerry Flanagan and Mick Barnfather, and in eccentric dance and Commedia dell’Arte with Barry and Joan Grantham.
Ivan is the co-founder of the following professional companies: High Rise Rubber (est.1991), one of the original stilt/walkabout companies which continues to work to the present day; Martinez &
Fabrega, a comedic street theatre company that produced The Bull Circus (2001) and collaborated with French company Cie Provisoir to create The Picturoscope Show (2002); Speakeasy Theatre, who produced The Radio Show (2003/4). Ivan was a co-director of Ragroof Theatre (from 2005) and is currently co-director, actor, dancer and disc jockey with The Ragroof Players. He also currently works with Red Herring Productions, a performance company set up by Paschale Straiton in 2008 to create outdoor theatre performances and installations.
DOROTHY MAX PRIOR has over thirty years experience in the performing arts – from punk-rock drummer to performance artist; ballroom dance teacher to street arts choreographer and site-specific theatre-maker. She has an ongoing interest in social dance,
vaudeville, and popular theatre, and endeavours to both honour and usurp those traditions in her performance work. She is a co-director of The Ragroof Players, working mostly as choreographer/dance teacher and dramaturg.
She creates her own projects under the name Dorothy’s Shoes, with commissioned shows and events for a diverse range of festivals and venues including LIFT/ BR-116, Sacred at Chelsea Theatre, Entre Lugares festival in Rio, Suspense Festival London, Dip Your Toe at Brighton Fringe, and Tenuta dello Scompiglio in Italy. She also works as a freelance dramaturg, choreographer and dance/drama teacher.
Max has an MA in Creative Writing and has trained in mime, physical theatre, clown, and in many forms of dance. Her teaching work has included: National Theatre, Open College of the Arts, University of Brighton, Wimbledon School of Art, Zap Arts, the International Workshop Festival, LUME Teatro Brazil, and many other companies, arts organisations and educational institutions across the UK and abroad.
LAURA WRIGHT is a producer with over 17 years experience in managing theatre
projects, live music events, and festivals. She has a wealth of experience in audience development, fundraising for theatre and community projects, and in marketing and promoting theatre shows and live music events. She has worked as a producer for White Mink, an electro-swing and vintage swing speakeasy live music and cabaret event; programmed festival stages; and has worked at theatre and live music venues and festivals since 1999.
Laura is a big fan of swing dance, and enjoys coming to Ragroof Tea Dances and the company’s other participatory events. She is a singer and piano teacher, and has performed as a cabaret artist. Being an artist herself has given her a good understanding of how best to support performing artists through the creative process, from behind the scenes. She sees her role as a producer as primarily facilitating and empowering artists to make work that realises their full creative potential.
Laura worked full time as Ragroof’s company manager for two years from 2008 to 2010, and has come back on board on a part-time basis in March 2017 to work at Ragroof HQ, dealing with tour booking enquiries, fundraising, and strategising to take the company forward throughout 2017-18 and beyond.
ANNA SYMES ﾠis an actress, dancer and theatre maker who lives by the sea in Margate. Since graduating from University of Brighton having studied Theatre with Visual Art she was a key performer, collaborator and director ofﾠ Ragroof Theatre. She has trained in Ballet and specializes in partner dancing: Ballroom, Latin, Swing, Charleston and Argentine Tango, passionately committed to social connection that transcends language and the exploration of different cultures. She continues to perform with Theﾠ Ragroof Playersﾠand is creative producer ofﾠ Bridges y Puentes, a theatre piece about migration which celebrates how, through the coming together of different cultures, new art forms are born. Currently she is establishing herself as a solo practitioner and has a keen interest in creating exciting, site-specific dance and theatre work. Now based in theﾠcoastal town of Margate amongst a burgeoning new arts community, she runs regular Tea Dances at Margate's Wintergarden and is producing new exciting theatre work. She also teaches Charleston classes at Margate's Vintage Dance Hall “Morgans”. Previously Anna performed as Babs in “Our Dancing Feet” by Zap and Inroads Productions, Queenie in the Ragroof show “Shall We Dance?”, Irish born Fiona in “Bridges y Puentes”, Masha in “The Seagull” by Carole and Maude and has worked as visual Director on the Ragroof Theatre Production “Gloves On”.
AILA FLOYD/THE BEE’S KNEES
Dancer, choreographer and director of the internationally renowned flapper troupe, The Bee’s Knees, (“The capital’s premier Twenties dance squadron” The Telegraph)
The troupe have performed all over the world including a number of appearances at the Venice carnival, as well as featuring on TV shows: ‘Paul O’Grady’(C4), ‘Endeavour’(ITV) and the pilot episode of ‘Nina Conti’s VaVaVariety show’(BBC).
A Lindy hop champion with her dance partner Richard Pucci (ESDC 2013), she continues to dance and teach Lindyhop in London, where she first developed a passion for swing dancing over 10 years ago. She has featured in music videos for George Michael and KT Tunstall. As a magician’s assistant for Scott Penrose (President of the Magic circle) Aila appeared on ‘Help my Supply Teacher is Magic’ (BBC) and ‘The Magicians’ (BBC) where she developed a keen interest and knowledge of the art of quick change and as a result worked as a consultant for TV drama ‘London Spy’(BBC).
Aila’s passion for performance has lead her to study theatre and clown with many influential teachers: Phillipe Gaulier, Avner the Eccentric, Spymonkey and Jonathan Kay, also picking up eccentric dance from the legendary Joan and Barry Grantham.
Aila met several of the Ragroof players while studying for her degree in Dance and Visual arts at Brighton university and now she regularly dances, teaches and DJ’s at their popular tea dances and has choreographed several of their popular swing, jazz and Charleston routines.