What is “Rent Party”?
Inspired by the poetry of Langston Hughes and traditions of the 1920s Harlem Renaissance, “Rent Party” is an immersive performance installation bringing together the vibrant clashes of life in 21st-Century austerity Britain.
Since it’s initial production, Rent Party has moved around the UK: an evolving, pulsating showcase that invites its cast to live the role of a Harlem party performer and entertainer in a cabaret of storytelling, dance and showboating. With each rotating production and cast, the creator, Darren Pritchard, has co-created the character showcases in order to keep Rent Party living, breathing and fiercely beating.
“Rent Party is a true testament to how people are connected,” says Darren, “and through their stories have common themes even though on the surface the cast appear very different.
“Struggle, survival, parenthood, mental health and creativity are just a few themes that connect the cast. But the biggest connection I see overall is talent and joy and the cast are true testament to the better side of humanity.
“The core of Rent Party is the stories of the performers and the wider political world that affects them. We, as people, are constantly evolving and changing and the political landscape around us is too. So, as the people and the surrounding world changes, so does the show.”
With the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, many of the themes of Rent Party have heightened: ideas of isolation and connectedness, relation and discrimination, poverty and the class system. It has also naturally changed the creative process of the show.
“There’s also a real hunger to be doing creative work which connects with other people–and even though it takes place on Zoom–it’s a blessing that myself and the cast have because there are many artists that are not having an opportunity like this at this time.
“I feel Rent Party in lockdown has brought out a different way in which I would normally connect with a cast. I don’t know if it’s because the cast are more mature but there seems to be a real openness and frankness in our conversations.
“I always say you only gain through diversity; you don’t lose anything. The cast being all very different people makes it a much more exciting theatrical experience because as well as celebrating their individuality we celebrate what connects them.”