Icon Theatre involve community in creative projects

Icon Theatre are bringing their production If Now Now to Rochester Castle as part of the Medway Light Nights festival in February. We spoke to them about their work…
If Not Now artwork2.jpg

What’s the ethos of Icon Theatre?

To bring professional theatre-makers and local communities together to create productions and creative projects. We want to be able to give everyone the opportunity to get involved.


When was it founded and where is it based?

Icon was founded in 2002 by Artistic Director and CEO, Nancy Hirst. For over ten years the company has been based in Medway at The Brook Theatre in Chatham.


What productions have been previously staged by Icon?

Icon’s recent theatre productions include The Chatham Witch, which was performed at Fort Amherst, Britain’s biggest Napoleonic Fortress, featured a cast of 150 actors, dancers and singers from the local community, and explored the extraordinary history of women in Medway, and The Silk of 100 Spiders which was inspired by the true stories of Chatham’s immigrants and invisible labour force and was performed at Fort Luton, an extraordinary and forgotten Victorian land fort. Icon is also commissioned by Medway Council with Loop Dance and Play On Words each Christmas, to create a much-loved show for early year’s children; this year it was called Little Fox’s Christmas Garden.


What can audiences expect from If Not Now?

If Not Now is a spectacular live dance and light show inspired by important historical moments.

With a mix of exhilarating dance, breath-taking projection across the walls of Rochester Castle, and original new music, If Not Now tells a unifying and uplifting story about how communities can come together to transform poverty, prejudice, and the climate crisis.

In Icon’s signature style, If Not Now is created and performed by a team of professional performers and theatre-makers alongside a company of over 150 people from local communities.


What themes are explored in If Not Now?

The show is inspired by moments in history that have launched remarkable social change, it tells a unifying and uplifting story about how communities can come together to transform poverty, prejudice, and the climate crisis.


Can you tell us more about the projections and ‘Medway Light Nights’?

The projection in If Not Now is created by celebrated company, NOVAK. These are made up of visuals that we’ve created through rehearsals, historic footage and animation. These will light up Rochester Castle walls during the performance – it should be breathtaking!

There are other events in Medway Light Nights, the full programme includes some super names including: Lucid Creates, Kent Cohesion Plus, IdeasTest, University of Kent, Dream Safari, Emergency Exit Arts, Mona Whitton, 51 Zero ... and possibly more.


It looks like an ambitious presentation; what challenges have you faced?

The production involves around 175 performers and a creative team, which will bring a big spectacle to Rochester Castle. Rehearsals of this size are a challenge due to their scale, but immensely rewarding as they bring the community together. Rehearsing everyone safely through Covid-19 has been challenging to navigate, but everyone has really worked hard.


Can you tell us about the musical score?

The musical score is created by Darren Clark who has worked on Icon’s previous productions such as The Chatham Witch. Darren is a celebrated musical theatre composer. For If Not Now the composition is atmospheric, filmic, has dance influences and rousing chorale sections.


How can local people get involved with this production?

As rehearsals are now well underway, we are not recruiting performers, but we are looking for volunteers to get involved and to support us backstage. If you’re interested in getting involved, please contact Icon will be creating another production later in the year, so look out on our website for details of how to join in.


Theatre 31 are involved in the show, can you tell us about them?

Theatre31 is Icon’s youth-led young people’s theatre programme, which is funded by Arts Council England and supported by Medway Council, Royal Opera House Bridge and Kent Council Council.

The programme supports young people make decisions and call the shots on everything that happens – from deciding which artists they work with to designing the logo. The programme involved performance opportunities, youth theatres, artist commissions, CPD for teachers and a Young Artist Collective amongst other things. The programme runs until December 2022 and it’s all free to join.

There will be around 130 young people involved in performing If Not Now.


How can people book for the show?

The show is free, you can just turn up. It starts at 6pm, 7pm and 8pm on both 11 and 12 February. Its running time is 20 minutes.