Don't let go

A new play in development by StrikeUp
Supported by Arts Council England

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In response to a national rise in loneliness and mental health crises, StrikeUp are developing a new play, Don’t Let Go, which seeks to unite audiences through our collective experiences of isolation.

We’re interested in the very thin line that runs between the pain and comedy of ‘aloneness.’

If you fart in a forest will anyone hear you? What’s it like to feel alone in a room full of people who don’t get who you are? What if the only person you speak to now is the postwoman and she’s never really keen to stay and chat? Would anyone notice if you dyed your hair red or packed up one day and left without a note? What if you’ve actually figured out how to solve the climate crisis but no-one wants to listen? 

Does anyone know what this feels like? Does anybody care? Inspired by telephone conversations recorded by people from our local community, StrikeUp tested ideas for a show that explores what it’s like to navigate the scariest parts of life on our own, and how sometimes, the key to making it through might be realising that we’re not.

Don’t Let Go was born out of a week-long rehearsal workshop, partnering local stories with dynamic physical theatre to bring a tonic of warmth, hope and togetherness for the times we’ve felt most alone.

Conversation participants included single parents, students, carers, refugees and elders who reflected on their experiences through the pandemic. These wonderful fly-on-the-wall conversations have been edited into episodes for our community podcast, In Session: Our Town Locked Down.

StrikeUp are seeking funding support to weave these powerful stories into a bold new play of national resonance. We want Don’t Let Go to hum with multiple voices, accents and experiences, inviting communities across the country to connect with each other, through the very human experience of ‘getting through it on our own.’

View the Don't Let Go gallery below.

Can you help us make it happen?

Don’t Let Go needs funding to continue. 
If this project lands with you and you or your organisation would like to support us with funding, rehearsal space or people power, please get in touch, every bit of support makes a big impact.


A new adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
In partnership with Reading Mencap

Midsummer was StrikeUp’s first collaboration with Reading Mencap, who supported us in working alongside local adults with learning disabilities. 


The Mencap performers worked their magic in rehearsal with StrikeUp Education students, to create an energetic retelling of Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’

Over eight weeks of workshops, StrikeUp nurtured two companies through our intensive Summer Shakespeare programme. Both casts came together with the Mencap Team in a community tour de force for the last week of rehearsals. 

Family audiences were delighted by the magic, mischief and merriment of this community’s fresh take on a classic Midsummer tale. The fast paced, feel-good script was adapted by local Writing Associate, Jack Taylor, for a fizzing production performed in the beautiful garden of StrikeUp’s Reading home, The Rising Sun Arts Centre.

StrikeUp had such a wonderful time working with Reading Mencap, we committed to a long-term partnership of rolling projects, including our lockdown film, Exchange, connecting communities through creative action.

View the Midsummer gallery below.


StrikeUp's debut play
Supported by Arts Council England

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Created in the aftermath of the EU Referendum, Silent Generation sought to explore the rising divisions between Britain’s eldest and youngest generations. 

Research illuminated inflammatory headlines advising that ‘older people shouldn’t be allowed to vote’ and brandishing them responsible for ‘stolen futures.’

Population data revealed the highest percentage of ‘leave’ voters to be among the over-70s, referred to by social historians as the ‘Silent Generation.’ StrikeUp created their debut play to challenge perceptions of this rarely heard-from demographic, and invite audiences to listen and consider their stories. 

First performed in 2019 at Reading’s South Street Arts Centre, Silent Generation emerged from interviews with Reading residents born 1925-45, an era when children should be seen-and-not-heard and it often felt dangerous to speak out politically. Now in their 70s- 90s, are the Silent Generation heard today? 

StrikeUp Artistic Director Rachel Mary spearheaded Silent Generation in collaboration with AgeUK Berkshire,  South Street Arts Centre and Reading Borough Council, connecting with local interview participants of all backgrounds to share their stories. 

Whilst Silent Generation’s development awaits a safer time to reunite with older communities, StrikeUp continue to advocate for the inclusion of older people across all their projects, particularly at times of enforced isolation. During the first lockdown of 2020, StrikeUp collaborated with Reading Culture Live to create their riotous digital comedy, Clownspiracy, with a cast of community actors aged 70 and above who rehearsed every week on Zoom. 

View the Silent Generation gallery below.