Cardboard Camps comes to Coventry with a bespoke arts programme designed with local people with experience of homelessness, and an exhilarating new musical, The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency, to premiere at Belgrade Theatre this October.

As Cardboard Citizens turns 30, we are delighted to announce a new partnership with Belgrade Theatre and Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 to deliver a bespoke programme of work co-created with local people with lived experience of homelessness, culminating in the staging of a brand new musical – The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency.

Adrian Jackson, founding Artistic Director of Cardboard Citizens and director of The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency, said: “Over 30 years we have tried to show how culture can make a difference in the lives of homeless people and help others better understand these lives. So nowhere could be more fitting than the City of Culture to present two connected aspects of our work – a life-affirming musical based on a true story of playful 1970s activism in London to house those most in need, preceded by a devised Forum Theatre style performance in which local homeless and non-homeless people will come together to discuss what can be done here in Coventry”.

Over the past three decades, we have blazed a trail in the field of arts for social justice and become a national and international authority on arts and homelessness. In 2019, we launched Cardboard Camps, a bespoke theatre workshop programme that trains individuals and organisations in our ground-breaking techniques, working in partnership with theatres up and down the country, from Theatre Royal Plymouth to Northern Stage in Newcastle. By uniting local expertise, charities, housing organisations and artistic practitioners, Cardboard Camps aims to build networks to ensure a lasting legacy that brings about positive change for those affected by homelessness in each region.

The latest stop on its national roll-out is Coventry, where we have been working since March 2021 together with the Arts & Homelessness Network. From June, Cardboard Camps will take up residency at Belgrade Theatre to deliver a bespoke arts programme designed to discover the issues local people experiencing homelessness face through a series of workshops and discussions, culminating in the devising of a newly-created interactive theatre piece.

On Friday 23 July, the resulting performance – created by local people with lived experience of homelessness and drawn from their collective stories – will be staged at Belgrade Theatre. The evening’s programme will also offer an opportunity for audience members with and without experience of homelessness to discuss the issues presented in the performance before deciding together what actions could be put in place to help bring some of the changes rehearsed on stage into real life.

Ruff Tuff

Cardboard Citizens’ partnership with Belgrade Theatre and Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 continues into the autumn with performances from Sat 9 to Sat 16 October of a brand new musical, The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency.

Headlining the Caring City of Coventry strand of the festival, The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency is an exhilarating feel-good musical about community and DIY activism from the 1970s based on the real-life story of the creation of the world’s first ‘estate agency for squatters’. Directed by our founding Artistic Director, Adrian Jackson, it is based on an original story by the late activist, poet and playwright Heathcote Williams and adapted (book and lyrics) by Sarah Woods, with music by former lead guitarist of the ground-breaking collective Chumbawamba, Boff Whalley. The cast will unite a professional cast with a chorus of Coventry citizens with lived experience of homelessness; further details will be announced this summer. The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency is co-produced by Cardboard Citizens, Coventry UK City of Culture and Belgrade Theatre.