This week saw the debut performance of “Poverty Pawn” by the Benchmark Theatre Company for the Camden Fringe Festival at the Lion & Unicorn Theatre in Kentish Town. Benchmark Theatre Company is made up of YMCA staff, residents and community members.
The play, originally written by Clare Fry, YMCA Community Activities Team Leader, tells the tale of a hellish TV production company which exploits the stories of people on benefits for “entertainment” purposes. We see how the producers edit their stories in a highly unscrupulous way, until a concerned assistant, the tea lady and the post boy step in to secretly re-edit the films… Gripping, dark and gritty, the play tackles the issues around stereotypes head-on, with perfectly placed dashes of slapstick and humour.
Residents were involved in the production from the start; fleshing out characters and plot lines and making props. “We wanted as many residents involved as possible, and it’s great to see that Benchmark has a great mix of residents and staff. We just desperately need funding so that we can grow and develop further,” says Clare Fry.
Benchmark Theatre Company has been in existence for over four years and is based at YMCA Surbiton, meeting up every Thursday night at 7pm. Its next project is an exciting one: “We’re looking for short one-act plays to perform at the end of the year, ideally written by residents,” explains Clare. “Performances of this type are easier to stage and it means we can support each other in groups”.
Watch this space for more news from Benchmark – you can follow them on Facebook: Benchmarktheatrecompany, and on Twitter: @BenchmarkDrama