Unsuspecting London commuters treated to Shakespeare and Improv Comedy
- World’s first play on train to mark opening of Blackfriars south station
- First station new station on the Southbank in London for 120yrs
- Collaboration with Network Rail and Shakespeare’s Globe
- Performances by award winning Two Gents Productions and Abandoman
Hundreds of unsuspecting commuters heading into Blackfriars today will find themselves entertained by acts of Shakespearian comedy being performed live on trains on the Thameslink route.
Coined ‘entertrainment’, the activity, which has been organised by Network Rail and is taking place in train carriages running into and out of Blackfriars, will see passengers treated to short acts from the Shakespeare play Two Gentleman of Verona.
It is being performed by the award winning Two Gents Productions, as part of a collaboration between Network Rail and Shakespeare’s Globe to mark the opening of Blackfriars south station, the first new station to be built in this part of London for 120 years.
In what will be the first play to take place on a train, each scene will last for an average of 2-4minutes. The scenes have been specially adapted from their forthcoming shows at the Globe to Globe Festival to fit between the train station stops along the Thameslink route. In a twist likely to further bemuse commuters, the scenes are to be acted out in a combination of Shona and English by the London based duo.
With thousands of passengers expected to travel into Blackfriars today, hundreds of commuters are set to be kept entertained on their train journeys.
Laurence Whitbourn, Network Rail project director, Blackfriars, comments, “The opening of the south station has made Blackfriars a cultural gateway, bringing people on the Thameslink route within easy reach of some of the very best culture that London has to offer. We wanted to make the daily grind of the commute a bit more fun and demonstrate the kind of entertainment that is now directly accessible from Blackfriars.”
Those commuters alighting at Blackfriars South platform are set for a further surprise, when they will be serenaded by hip hop comedy duo, Abandoman, performing under the guise of First Capital Connect station staff. The award winning comedians are currently performing at the E4 Udderbelly Festival at Southbank Centre, a short distance from the station itself and will be greeting unsuspecting passengers with impromptu Shakespeare-inspired and improvised rap.
Alan Bishop, co-chair of the South Bank and Bankside Cultural Quarter and Chief Executive of Southbank Centre, comments: “It’s fantastic that there is a new key direct transport link from Brighton to Bedford to the South Bank and Bankside Cultural Quarter, the largest concentration of culture anywhere in the world, which attracts more than 22 million people promenading along the south of the river each year. Next Monday, Shakespeare would have celebrated his 448th birthday, so these performances are a fitting tribute to a man who found his feet performing within the immediate vicinity of Blackfriars.”
Neil Constable, Chief Executive of Shakespeare’s Globe, comments: “We are delighted to be working with Network Rail to raise the profile of Blackfriars South Station and the quick and easy access it offers to Bankside’s cultural heart. We look forward to welcoming more and more people to Shakespeare’s Globe, and especially to our ground-breaking Globe to Globe Festival which begins at the weekend.”
Blackfriars has been completely rebuilt by Network Rail to make way for longer trains and more frequent services on the Thameslink route from Bedford to Brighton, through central London. Over 150,000 passengers are expected to use Blackfriars south station during summer 2012.
Brighton resident and commuter, Charlotte Frost, 24, comments: “I stopped to check my train time when station staff approached me asking me if I needed help. I didn’t realise it was Abandoman – they improvised a brilliant song for me on the spot. Great commute to work in this morning!”