Sasha is a clinical psychology student at University of Kent, who works with adolescents as part of her degree and volunteers at Canterbury Umbrella. Somehow, she also found time to join Shakespeare Nation! Sasha is performing in Henry VI: Rebellion as part of Canterbury's Shakespeare Nation group.

Before coming to Canterbury, I was a member of a theatre company until the age of 12 and studied performing arts in school and college before deciding on a whole different career path. I have no regrets, but it has presented with various challenges and a lot of time to miss the rehearsal room and the stage itself. However, working closely with the Marlowe has given me this opportunity and being surrounded by people who have the same need for a break in reality makes it so meaningful, creating the atmosphere that this is more than just a play.

A woman with red hair and glasses looks at the camera.
Photo by David Oxberry © RSC Browse and license our images

Getting involved

Roughly this time last year I began volunteering at the Umbrella Centre in Canterbury. Once the pandemic restrictions had been lifted, the Marlowe Theatre had started a small casual group with the members in order to provide some difference and diversity whilst aiding in the confidence boosting of the people there. Fast forward a few months and they collaborated with some members on a project called Error Error Error, which I was unable to be a part of due to other commitments, but it was such an inspiring moment to see all of these people on a stage who never thought it possible to have such an opportunity.

So, when it came about that there was going to be a project with the Royal Shakespeare Company, I knew I needed to get back to my roots and re-engage with the theatre world in a way that is very appropriate and manageable for me.

Being part of the rebellion

In being a member of the rebellion, it has enabled me to learn more about the history of Canterbury (I'm originally from over the bridge in Essex) and get to know other people and build up a network that isn’t based around ‘working life’. It certainly has its ups and downs as Wednesdays are now 12-hour days, but having the time to not worry about work has a lot of benefits and makes the time spent well worth it.

Mostly, I am looking forward to spending time with the other participants outside of the rehearsal room and having more of an opportunity to get to know each other on a more personal level. However, I must make a confession that a no cost all-inclusive break certainly has its appeal! But I cannot be more grateful to Canterbury Umbrella, the Marlowe Theatre, and all of the people I have been working with these past few months because the support has been extraordinary and to witness members of the Centre find their confidence like never before has me extremely humbled.


Shakespeare Nation and the Rebels

Seventy-four adults from Blackpool, Bradford, Canterbury, Cornwall, Norwich and Nottingham, appear alongside the professional cast in our show Henry VI: Rebellion. They are part of Shakespeare Nation, our community participation programme run with our partner theatres, aimed at people with little or no experience of Shakespeare, either as a theatre-goer or performer. They play the roles of working people who take part in the rebellion led by the character of Jack Cade against Henry VI, and townsfolk when the king is out hunting.

The Shakespeare Nation adult engagement work is generously supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

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