Students and alumni from the University will take part in performances for families and young people. Image credit: Doorstep Arts

From Doorstep to Texas, University theatre project gains global recognition

A local theatre project based in Torbay has gained international recognition, thanks to one of its founders from the University of Exeter.

Doorstep Arts is a local organisation started by theatre educator, Dr Erin Walcon alongside two other theatre professionals to help promote the creative arts in the community.

Recently featured in the Guardian as an excellent example of home-grown theatre, the DoorstepArts model has now gone global, with Dr Walcon invited as keynote speaker at this year’s International Applied Theatre Symposium at the University of Texas, USA.

The event gave the opportunity to highlight to an international audience of arts professionals, how this local model to provide sustainable long-term participatory creative arts in characteristically poorer areas, can enrich communities and the lives of children and young people.

Doorstep Arts is hosting the Doorstep Theatre festival as part of the Collaborative Touring Network which starts this week.

Now in its fifth season, the festival features both current students and alumni from the University taking part in performances and workshops for families and young people across Torbay. The festival includes 11 original performances, with three touring shows from internationally acclaimed theatre producers, Battersea Arts Centre, a partner of Doorstep Theatre.

Dr Erin Walcon from the University of Exeter’s Drama Department said: “I am delighted that Doorstep Theatre is gaining international recognition and opening up opportunities for people of all ages to get involved with the arts. Doorstep is really all about creating access to the arts in community sites where arts would not happen otherwise, and to build entitlement for local people that they deserve to see and create outstanding theatre. To be able to talk about this at an international level and build worldwide connections is an exciting development.

“This year’s Doorstep Theatre festival is bursting with local talent and I am really proud that many of my students and some University alumni are not only taking part in the festival this year but also helping to deliver drama outreach workshops in schools across Torbay. These workshops will help local students transitioning from primary to secondary education to build resilience and enhance their well-being through the arts.”

This year’s festival will showcase an original musical production called Grit which has been devised and created by an ensemble of talented teenagers from Torbay as part of the Resilience Web project, a council-funded initiative led by Doorstep Arts and funded by the People's Health Trust, Awards for All and Arts Council England.

The Doorstep Theatre festival runs from 22 October – 12 November at venues throughout Torbay. Full details of all performances can be found on the Doorstep Theatre website

Dr Walcon is also expected to speak about the Doorstep Arts model at the Inspiring Curiosity Conference in Coventry later this month.

Date: 21 October 2015

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