Philip Parr is Artistic Director of Parrabbola and has directed all their work. As a director of opera and theatre, his productions have been seen around the world. Philip has been a staff director at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, The Bayerisches Staatsoper and at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. He was director of the 2006 Bath International Shakespeare Festival and from 2000 – 2006 director of the Swaledale Music Festival in Yorkshire, England. In 2008 he was Artistic Director for the Holocaust Memorial Day National Event, which was part of the European City of Culture celebrations in Liverpool.
Philip was founder and Artistic Director of Spitalfields Market Opera, a purpose-built chamber opera house in London – and the first opera house built in London for over 100 years. He is a founding council member of the European Shakespeare Festivals network. In August 2010 he directed a pan-European site-specific community play production of Pericles for the International Shakespeare Festival in Gdansk, Poland.
Parrabbola make community plays – their mission is the empowerment of communities through participatory creative activity, working to engage communities in the creative expression of their own lives and histories. In the past five years, Parrabbola has extended its remit to project management of strategic programmes, both in the UK and abroad, which focus on artistic and community development.
Thus far, they have worked with communities who are
• Searching for new direction following industrial closure;
• Building community identity to create shared values and a sense of worth;
• Building capacity within an existing community to celebrate and bring confidence within all ages;
• Celebrating and commemorating a common heritage.
Community plays were first developed in the UK in the 1960s by the writer and director Ann Jellicoe and involve the creation of a piece of theatre by the people, of the people and for the people. That is to say that a community play tells the stories of a local community and uses performers from that community to tell them. Every community play is different – because every community is different.
Parrabbola has made plays that cover 1000 years of history, that document strikes and rebellion, murder, love, and revolution. But these stories always come from the community. Different Parrabbola projects have included a community play based on the Chartist settlement at Heronsgate near Rickmansworth, artistic direction of The Scouse Operas, a community play project in Liverpool and the Wirral on the theme of work, two site specific pieces of promenade theatre in Birmingham, Eight Foot Square – a year-long participatory outreach programme in Hastings, and World Arts Platform, a programme to maximise opportunities for multicultural artists in Hertfordshire.