Russell Turner as Richard lll in Crude Apache’s new production – photo supplied

A Norfolk based theatre company is to donate a percentage of the profits from their latest production to the homeless after its actors got a taste of the horrors of living on the streets as they rehearsed for their latest play.

Norfolk’s much loved Crude Apache Theatre Company are currently deep in rehearsals for their radical adaptation of Shakespeare’s bloody and violent masterpiece Richard III. T

In the decaying remains of a disused shoe factory in central Norwich, the city’s most up-close and personal theatre company are readying to plunge their audiences into a post-industrial dystopian world for this dark tale of treachery, deceit and murder.

Director Tim Lane has reset the play amongst homeless inner city desperate and dispossessed communities where people wrap themselves in sheets of cardboard or huddle in makeshift card shelters in an attempt to keep warm. The precarious, dangerous brutality of the lives of those living on the street is used to underscore the fact that the dangers faced by many of the modern day homeless are every bit as savage, frightening and fraught with danger as those that confront the characters in the play.

The rehearsals for the play proved uncomfortable to members of the cast, giving them a tiny insight into the horrors of living on the street. They felt so moved by the experience that a decision was made to donate 25% of all profits to homeless charity Emmaus.

Cast member Joanna Swan explained ‘Having spent a large portion of the day lying in a cardboard box on a cold, draughty disused factory floor really rammed home to me just how dreadful it must be to try to sleep on the streets. The cold, the pain of being curled up against the cold, the noise, the fear, the total vulnerability. I don’t think I could survive living like that and it occurred to me that we could use our play to actually help people who have no choice but to endure this day after day. I discussed the idea with the rest of the cast and everybody agreed’. There will also be a bucket collection on each night for audiences to contribute if they wish.

Cathy Hembry, General Manager of Emmaus Norwich said ‘We’re so very grateful that Crude Apache are supporting us in this way, the winter months are especially bleak for those on the streets. Emmaus does not receive any government funding so we are entirely reliant on donations and the money we raise in our shop – where our companions work in return for their home.’

Crude Apache’s production of Richard III explores the dark heart of this most fascinating of Shakespeare’s histories and its charismatic villain as he claws his bloody way to power. Set in a cardboard kingdom in a septic isle, this is a war between two venal houses, each suffering similar degradation; fighting each other over nothing, but fighting with an all consuming passion. Russell Turner, a long standing member of the company takes the titular role.

In the decaying remains of a disused shoe factory in central Norwich, Norwich’s most up-close and personal theatre company will plunge the audience into a post-industrial dystopian setting for this dark tale of treachery, deceit and murder. The play will be staged in the Shoe Factory Social Club in St Mary’s Works, the former Sexton, Son & Everard factory which has become the city’s newest arts centre.

Tim Lane explained the setting, ‘I wanted a dilapidated “urban” type setting so we were very lucky to find the Shoe Factory at St Mary’s Works almost straight away. The timing was perfect. The site is to be redeveloped but in the meantime the space, which is perfect for our requirements, is being used for a variety of arts events’.

Emmaus is a charity providing more than just a bed for the night to people who have experienced homelessness and social exclusion. It provides a home for as long as someone needs it and meaningful work in their social enterprise. Living in a stable environment with the opportunity to work helps residents to regain lost self-esteem and the confidence to get back on their feet. More information at
The play will be performed by a cast of 11 in traverse, with the actors in the centre of the room and the audience either side of them. This will create an intimacy with the audience and a heightened sense of confrontation.

Tickets are on sale now at

Since their formation Crude Apache have presented over 50 accessible, affordable and entertaining plays in and around Norfolk. Their members are drawn together by friendship, passion for theatre and a love for the county and the surrounding area. They have performed in venues that range from Norwich’s Guildhall, City Council Chamber and Dragon Hall to open fields and a snooker and pool club!

Listings info:
Crude Apache presents Richard III by William Shakespeare
New contemporary, post industrial production of Shakespeare’s bloody and violent masterpiece
Wednesday 23 November – Saturday 3 December (not Sun 27, Mon 28 Nov), 7.30pm £8, £7 concessions
The Shoe Factory Social Club, St Mary’s Works, Oak St, Norwich NR3 3AF
Tickets and info: