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Metta Theatre have been granted emergency funds by Arts Council England

Wind In The Willows Production Photos © The Other Richard
Wind In The Willows Production Photos © The Other Richard

Metta Theatre are one of the non NPO organisations that have been granted emergency funds by Arts Council England, which will enable them to continue developing three of their new musicals as cast albums / audio musicals – transforming them into digital projects. This funding will exclusively pay the freelance artists involved, at a time when so many are struggling acute financial hardship. Metta Theatre Artistic Directors Poppy Burton-Morgan and William Reynolds have also committed £20,000 from the company’s own funds to support the three albums as well as over £3,000 raised from their Crowdfunder campaign for The Rhythmics album, which thanks to the generosity of supporters exceeded its original target.

At the start of 2020, Metta Theatre had six new British musicals in progress. In the wake of the devastating coronavirus pandemic, UK lockdown and the closure of theatres around the country, those plans have been radically revised.

Planned productions of HouseFire in the autumn, and In the Willows in spring 2021 have now been cancelled, with the likely spring opening of The Rhythmics being pushed into autumn 2021. Instead, over the next six months they will focus on cast album creation for each show, alongside BSL integrated and captioned music videos, in order to make the work fully accessible to deaf and hard of hearing audiences.

Established in 2005 by Poppy Burton-Morgan and Motley trained Designer William Reynolds, Metta Theatre has been at the forefront of new work – with a strong focus on the development of new British musical theatre, and a commitment to highlighting climate justice and sustainability; disability and deaf integration and inclusion (both from a political perspective and in order to artistically enrich the work); queering mainstream and family theatre – writing characters that represent and normalise (rather than problematise) the diverse range of queer experiences and identities; re-gendering protagonists in order to give girls strong female role models.

Poppy Burton-Morgan, who earlier this year won the Writers Guild of Great Britain Award for musical theatre book writing for In the Willows – The Hip Hop musical (which toured the UK in 2019), said “We’re so grateful to ACE for their continued support of the company and although it’s a terrifying and destabilising time for the world, and the sector, we’re really looking forward to expanding our practices into digital and audio performance. All three of these shows have such uplifting and heart-warming narratives – so we can’t wait to share them with the world and spread a little light in the darkness”

THE RHYTHMICS – a feelgood new British musical exploring the crisis of masculinity via a collection of oddballs belting their way through a thrillingly catchy Brit pop score. With music & lyrics from Stiles&Drewe award winner Ben Glasstone (Reanimator) and choreography from Mark Smith (Artistic Director or Deaf Men Dancing).

HOUSEFIRE – a climate crisis family musical, with music by award-winning American Composer Ben Toth. Part gig-theatre, part song cycle – Housefire unpacks some of the complexities around the climate crisis through a series of songs sung by a quartet of endangered animals.

I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.” Greta Thunberg 2019

IN THE WILLOWS – the extraordinary new British Musical, with music from award-winning composer Pippa Cleary (Adrian Mole) and Keiran Merrick which toured the UK in 2019 is being revamped ahead of a new production in 2021. The show also features integrated BSL, and a fusion of BSL and hip-hop choreography from Zoo Nation choreographer Rhimes Lecointe.

The Wind in the Willows is brought leaping into the twenty-first century. Featuring ballads, beats and backflips this fresh new musical is fun for the whole family.



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