St Albans theatre streams homelessness film during second lockdown

Rough Sleeper is screening on Zoom via the Abbey Theatre.

Rough Sleeper is screening on Zoom via the Abbey Theatre. - Credit: Archant

A new film version of the acclaimed stage play Rough Sleeper will have its World Premiere at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans

The movie will be showing as a streamed broadcast to audiences that they can watch in the safety of their own homes, from Thursday, November 26 to Saturday, November 28.

The play was written in 2019 by local actor, director and playwright Jo Emery, who has been a member of the Abbey Theatre for many years. It was performed in St Albans and Herts area in 2020, just before and after the first lockdown, and received a tremendous response, so when professional film-maker friend Ian Hylands asked Jo if he could shoot it as a film, she leapt at the chance.

She said: “I’ve been astonished at the incredible positive feedback we’ve had about the play this year, and it’s so exciting to have this new opportunity to create this film version as a digital concept, especially now we are in lockdown number two.

“The film was shot in October and although it follows the script of the original play closely, there are some changes, so it is a different concept to the stage play and obviously because it’s a film, we have been able to explore and use the technical differences of that medium to create a completely new experience for the audience.”

The film follows the storyline about a fictitious man who is sleeping rough in the doorway of a closed down high street department store, charting his rise from rags to riches and his subsequent fall from grace into homelessness.

It highlights life on the streets in an affluent southern city - elements were drawn from actual homeless people’s stories, then woven together with fiction and some political factoids. Audiences have remarked how moving and thought-provoking the play was, Jo said.

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The film will be screened at 8pm nightly from Thursday, Saturday 26 and tickets are priced at £10 with no concessions from the Box Office at the Abbey Theatre.