Funky Llama fun at Theatre Royal Plymouth in Cattedown
IT'S party time at TR2 next week, in the company of the Funky Llama.
Expect dancing and DJs, music and films as the Theatre Royal Plymouth (TRP) lives up to its reputation for engaging the whole community.
The unlikely-sounding camelid (thank-you, Wiki) is the TRP's arts platform, training and mentoring programme, made for and with adults with learning disabilities.
The party on Thursday is only one part of a large-scale programme with a couple of straight-forward aims.
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"It's about providing creative opportunities and potentially building an audience and a relationship," says Becky Chapman, Funky Llama producer.
"It gives a relaxed, fun environment providing the opportunity for adults with learning difficulties to take to the stage performing."
A refreshing thing about the Funky Llama is the total inclusion. The night is open to all.
The fun-loving even-toed ungulate (thank-you again, Wiki) first made an appearance three years ago with a pilot project.
Since then the llama and friends have been building their relationship.
Plymouth Music Zone and Attik Dance are involved and now, with funding by The Big Lottery Reaching Communities Fund and a couple of charitable foundations, Esmee Fairbairn and the Garfield Weston, the project is growing.
As well as the year-round work the plan is to have a club night annually and, from June 2014, a weekend festival.
The name is an acknowledgement of the lead taken by the Beautiful Octopus project, which has been doing similar things in London for 25 years.
Other club nights that have sprung up around the UK have taken on similarly exotic creature-linked names.
Too Hot For Candy, from the London Beautiful Octopus Club, and Samba Roc from Paignton, will be among the performers on Thursday night at TR2, the TRP production and education centre in Cattedown.
Homegrown talent will be taking part, too.
"The arts is well known for building more self confidence and transferable skills," says Becky.
"It is multi-layered. People work alongside theatre professionals, using our huge resources for the community."
As well as developing confidence and ability, and ensuring that theatre really is for all, there is also the opportunity for some involved to work at TRP.
"Potentially this could lead to jobs, giving employment in the theatre, with support," says Becky.
That's for the longer-term future. For now the focus is on next Thursday's club night which plays another important role.
"It also provides a safe place for a night out, in a welcoming environment," adds Becky.
The Funky Llama night welcomes all-comers, whether learning disabled or not, as long as they are over 18.