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Ugly Bucket Theatre is tackling food poverty with its new production at Unity Theatre

3 weeks ago

By Jay Hynd

The tough topic of food poverty is being put under the spotlight in an electrifying new production at the Unity Theatre this week.

Stuffed is an ambitious performance project by award-winning Liverpool company, Ugly Bucket, which not only seeks to highlight the issue of food banks in a unique way – but promote conversation to find a solution too.

As part of the innovative production, audience members will be invited to share a meal before the show and, on Friday, the performance will be a pay-what-you-can event to make sure it’s accessible to everyone.

Ugly Bucket Theatre

Grace Gallagher, co-artistic director with Rachael Smart, explains:

“A couple of years ago during the pandemic we all had time to stop and take stock, and we became more aware of what was going on across the country and in our communities and, in particular, the hunger crisis and the battle food banks were facing.

“So, when we had to option to come back to live theatre, it was a topic which we were passionate to pick up.”

Ugly Bucket Theatre
Credit: Ugly Bucket Theatre

Ugly Bucket has spent the last two years building relationships with food banks and food poverty organisations across the UK including, closer to home, Feeding Liverpool, Liverpool Lighthouse, and Kensington Fields.

“We have been recording interviews with lots of different people,” adds Grace, “and we take these recorded interviews and we use clowning and physical, non-verbal theatre and electronic music to build a show around them.

Ugly Bucket Theatre

“Audiences will listen to loads of personal truth testimony while seeing visually through us, an hour long show about what’s happening in the country with food banks. In an attempt to find a solution we first need to understand a problem, and people might think they know what’s happening, but the reality is much deeper than people realise and they will hear it from the people on the ground.

“It’s far more powerful.”

Wrap-around activity like the meal means people are not just buying a ticket to a show. They get the chance to share a free pre-show meal because Ugly Bucket believes sharing food is at the heart of the community – and Friday’s show is pay-what-you-can so people ‘could access it for the free meal alone’ – then watch the show which addresses the anger, and the feeling of powerlessness.

Credit: Ugly Bucket Theatre

“And then we have a post-show panel with guests from organisations involved who can provide further information, and we can put our heads together and look how we can try to find solutions to the problem.”

Since being founded five years ago with drama graduates from John Moores University, Ugly Bucket has sought to tackle a range of difficult subjects, recently returning from Edinburgh Fringe Festival where its emotional and high-energy production of Good Grief, which looks at death, was a sell-out.

Grace says: “We came out of that topic to tackle this new one, and we are finding massive new challenges because it’s so big and so political.”

The show is nevertheless ‘funny and bizarre’ while encouraging audiences to seek solutions and Grace adds: “Sometimes we can be overwhelmed by a problem, but if we do our bit locally, every day, and work together, we can spark real change on a nationwide scale.”

Stuffed by Ugly Bucket, in association with the Unity Theatre, is on from Thursday, November 17 to Saturday, November 19 – book tickets here.

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