Posted by: admin June 20th, 2017

Alien’s Order community theatre arts project gets Arts Council backing

Shakespeare in Italy, a UK based theatre company, has been awarded £15k to deliver a community arts project, titled Alien’s Order, in Peterborough.

The project was inspired by an Italian Community Association publication, Aliens Order, which took its name from the certificate of registration and identity card that people arriving in the UK had to sign up to in the 1950s if they wanted to work in the country.

The ICA publication is a photographic history of the Italians who came to work at the London Brick Company in the1950s, who like other immigrants working in the UK, were categorised as Aliens. Shakespeare uses the word alien in The Merchant of Venice as Portia says to Shylock “If it be proved against an alien that by direct or indirect attempts”.

The theatre project will explore themes of tolerance, understanding, love and family through the experience of families who have come to work in the city from overseas and with reference to Shakespeare’s Italian plays including Romeo and Juliet, Othello and of course The Merchant of Venice. It will culminate at the Italian Festival in the city on September 9 and 10 in lively, colourful fun pop-up performances with a nod to Commedia Dell Arte.

The story of the Italian community in Peterborough sets a positive example of integration and acceptance as well as triumph over adversity in a city whose population has grown by 17% over the last decade to include 20% of people born outside the UK.

Founder Mary Chater said: “We will work with community groups, young people and children to develop the project through drama workshops, gathering oral histories from the Italian community and other groups, leading to the devised performances for the festival.”

Shakespeare in Italy, founded by Mary and Julian Curry, former RSC actors, and Italian theatre manager Sandro Pascucci, will be working closely with PHACE, the Peterborough cultural partnership for children and young people, and Metal (Peterborough) which works to transform the potential of people and places through great art and inspiring ideas. 

Children will be challenged to "Solve the riddle of the caskets” in The Merchant of Venice, learn the story of the play, sing, act, and even play Lucky Dip! While young people asked to ponder on the statement “My Dad was an alien!” involving all in using games and a variety of narrative and dramatic techniques.

The company is planning to tour the UK and Italy in the autumn of 2018 with a major production of The Merchant of Venice. The work in Peterborough will help to inform the company’s outreach programme accompanying the production.

Shakespeare in Italy is dedicated to finding the Italian in Shakespeare, developing its own blend of British and Italian performance styles – as well as new audiences.

Any community groups wanting to be involved should contact Mary by email on

NOTES TO EDITORS: For more information contact Collette Parker, SI Associate on 07801295315 or email: