Croydon theatre company bid fond farewell to popular play

The two-year UK-wide run of millennial zeitgeist play Giant comes to an end at Croydon’s St Andrews Church tonight.

The Arts Council-funded production charts a story of millennial panic as lead character Tommy settles into life after university back in his family home.

The show, performed by-Croydon based Zoo Co, has toured the country, including a stint at the Edinburgh Fringe and is now facing its final curtain call as the company looks to the future.

Creative producer Rosalind Hoy, 25, said: “When we started the show felt very true to us, but the company has moved on since then.

“It’s a show about Generation Y which is our generation and it’s about when you leave university and have these big high aspirations and everything looks shiny and golden then it starts to sink a bit and everything gets a bit overwhelming.”

Giant was born from collaboration after Zoo Co ran a series of workshops around the county to ensure that the characters were honest and true to each generational experience.

One physical workshop saw more than 60’s dancers passing on their knowledge to the younger generation.

Miss Hoy said: “It was incredible to watch two groups of people who would only ever really interact in a family setting, collaborate creatively and it was beautiful to see that happen in front of you and it was wonderful.”

Their accurate portrayal of modern family life struck a nerve with the predominantly young audience, with one person emailing to say that she had been unable to cry about her mother’s passing until she saw the show.

Miss Hoy described the humbling yet rewarding experience of speaking with audience members who said after seeing the show they just wanted to hug their grandparents and often had tears in their eyes.

Even the set reflects Giant’s dedication to the truth, made out of cardboard and wood it will be burned after the show in the ultimate goodbye.

“The idea is that every person, no matter what walk of life, everyone has a story to tell, you can grab someone’s life out a box and there’s their story to tell.”

Talking to both young and old showed the company that neither wants to be in the others positions, Miss Hoy said it was incredible to watch the generations become incredibly honest with each other as they weren’t restrained by family bonds.

“It was really interesting to hear the parallels and neither party wishing they had the others lives. It was lovely. It showed us all that the grass is never greener,” she said.

Much of what was said in the workshops was put verbatim which is why they believe it resonated with so many people.

Without The Arts Council Giant would not have been possible, Zoo Co have had three successful bids for funding from the council and Miss Hoy is adamant that their company would not have survived without it.

With arts funding down by £230m since 2010 and local councils cutting funding to venues and schemes amid growing financial pressures Zoo Co are working hard to bring theatre to the masses.

Their new project Theatre on the High Street is only possible thanks to funding from Croydon Council and The Arts Council and others and will see Zoo Co are take over an empty shop in the Whitgift Centre.

For the first time this Croydon based company has the space to create theatre in Croydon and they will also be running free workshops for people of all ages.

“We trialled it last year with Theatre in the Market in Croydon market in amongst the fruit and veg sellers and we had 6 days and 6 events and had the most interesting audience we’ve ever had,” said Miss Hoy.

“We had people for who English wasn’t their first or even second language and children who had never stepped foot in a theatre, we proved that you need to put theatre in people’s way to prove that it’s not just for the elite or for the few, it’s for the many and every person can enjoy it.”

The company will be running three months of programmes as well as partnering with three Croydon schools, one of which is a special education and mental health school.

“We’ve always liked access, it’s always been at the centre of everything we do,” she said.

What: GIANT is an explosive, absurd and visceral adventure into ‘Adulting’
Where: St Andrews Church, 29B Southbridge Rd, Croydon CR0 1AG
When: Friday May 25, 7.30pm.
How: The nearest stations are Haddon, West Croydon and South Croydon, each about a 10-minute walk away. There is parking nearby at NCP Croydon Wandle.

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