The Ragroof Players disbanded on 31 December 2018, ending a highly successful twelve-year run of working together on street theatre shows, site-responsive performances, and community-engaged projects, which have included: Bridges y Puentes, Happy Feet, Shall We Dance, The Ragroof Tea Dance, and a large number of community-specific commissions over the years.
Ragroof’s work was usually placed outside of theatres and arts spaces, and challenged restricted and outmoded expectations of ‘community and participatory arts’. When we ventured into dedicated art/theatre spaces, it was with the intention of bringing people into those spaces who would not usually of been found there. Accessibility, integration and participation were not an ‘outreach’ aspect of our work – they were our work.
Marion is excited to announce the launch of a new participatory arts company, Murmuration Arts; building community through street theatre, site-responsive performance, participatory dance, and arts workshops.
Marion is an artist, performer, producer and company manager, founder member of Ragroof Theatre and co-director of The Ragroof Players – developing and managing both companies for 15 years. 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 devised and performed with Ragroof Theatre in ‘Make Do and Mend’, the Ragroof Tea Dances and ‘Shall We Dance?’ and was performance director for ‘Gloves On’. She directed ‘Bridges y Puentes’, developing a new performance language for site-responsive, promenade performances. 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 psychosocial first aid to children living in crisis situations.
“I am excited to be starting a new company building on my 15 years of experience working in outdoor arts and community-led work. With Murmuration Arts I want to shift the power dynamics of artists working in participation and look at ways to share the agency and decision making process with participants.
I believe that we are all part of a community, what helps shape and define us are our experiences and what we have been individually exposed to. Murmuration Arts will offer the tools learnt through our training as a way to express and develop a shared language and experience between us and the people we meet – we are always ready to learn new skills ourselves. At the heart of Murmuration Arts is collaboration and listening. It is my aim to shine a light on people’s individual expertise using the skills we have as artists to enhance and market this, bringing it to a wider audience.”
MATTHEW BLACKLOCK trained as an actor graduating from East 15 Acting School in 2002. Since then he has worked in television, film and theatre. He has held the position of director for The Ragroof Players, performed as part of a comedy dance duo ‘The Gentlemen Friends’ and run theatre and dance workshops in schools, community settings, residential care homes, yoga retreats, fitness expos and for corporate and private events. Matthew joins Murmuration Arts (link to website) as a co-director bringing his knowledge and expertise to this role.
Inspired by teaching dance and interested in learning how the body is impacted during movement, Matthew has qualified as a personal trainer, pilates and yoga instructor through his company Dance Floor Activist. Running regular community fitness classes, has enabled Matthew to spend the past 10 years exploring how focused movement can have a beneficial impact on an individuals health and wellbeing. When working in theatre and fitness, Matthew looks to bring people together, through shared experience, creating a space for everyone to gain from the benefits of social engagement, moving their bodies and expressing themselves.
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 forty 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 was co-director of The Ragroof Players, working as choreographer/dance teacher (Shall We Dance, Ragroof Tea Dance, Our Dancing Feet) and writer/ dramaturg (Bridges y Puentes).
She creates her own participatory dance projects under the name Dorothy’s Shoes, with commissions 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 choreographer and dance teacher, specialising in popular and social dance of the 19th and 20th centuries, ballroom and social dance, vaudeville, and eccentric dance. Dorothy’s Shoes will present The Ragroof Tea Dance from 2019 onwards.
Max has an MA in Creative Writing and has trained in mime, physical theatre, clown, and in many forms of dance. She writes creative non-fiction, makes site responsive performance and installation work, and teaches across the world. Her teaching work has included: National Theatre, University of Brighton, Wimbledon School of Art, Zap Arts, the International Workshop Festival, LUME Teatro, MIS Sao Paulo, and UNICAMP (Brazil), FICHO Festival (Mexico), The Actors Space (Barcelona) and many other companies, arts organisations and educational institutions worldwide.
LAURA WRIGHT is a producer with over 18 years experience managing theatre projects, live music events, and festivals, she joins Murmuration Arts (link to site) as producer. She has a background in event management, audience development, fundraising for theatre and community projects, marketing and promoting theatre shows and live music events, programming festival stages, and has worked at theatre and live music venues and festivals since 1999.
Laura is a singer and piano teacher, and has performed as a cabaret artist. Experience as a performing artist has given her empathy and understanding in how best to support 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.
“I believe art can change the world, by immersing people emotionally and cognitively in the issues that matter. Participatory arts can be particularly transformative for individuals who don’t have a background in the arts, and for communities using participatory art as a tool for empowerment.”