SPARC Theatre are bringing the glitzy era of the 70’s Vegas Cabaret, plus The King of Rock and Roll himself, to their newest offering: Are You Lonesome Tonight? The show was inspired by the ensemble’s mutual love of Elvis Presley and promises a heartfelt mix of songs and stories, with a healthy smattering of sequins.

The SPARC Theatre program is a participatory arts ensemble working with people who live in supported accommodation within, and around, The City of Port Phillip. Explains Artistic Director Katie Lockett: “The SPARC Theatre ensemble are made up of some of the most marginalised and vulnerable members of our society – and many are isolated with very little family or community around them. Are You Lonesome Tonight? is about connection; I believe all humans require this – I certainly do.” The work explores the themes of love and loneliness, and finding community and connection through a common interest.

For Lockett, Are You Lonesome Tonight? began as a response to an offer an ensemble member made two years ago when it was suggested making work about Elvis Presley. “As a Community Theatre practitioner I like to accept all offers if possible on some level,” states Lockett. ” I was unprepared for the journey that we were about to go on, and the weight that Elvis and the decision to explore his work would have on all of us. If I wasn’t a fan before after travelling the 800km to the Parkes Elvis Festival, I am now!”

“Maureen, the member who first suggested we pay homage to the King, sadly passed away during this process, and so the work has become very personal – a labour of love, and dedication to a friend.”

Lockett has spent two years creating Are You Lonesome Tonight? She acknowledges that to work with people that are vulnerable requires a great deal of trust, and the largest part of her role as Artistic Director has been to develop this with the group. “Artistically, I think once you have that trust, everything else follows,” she says. ” As to my actual character in the show (we are performing at The Greyhound Hotel in St Kilda), in a salute to the venue, she may or may not be a she…”

SPARC Theatre was created in 2005 and the relationship between the arts and ensemble members has become profound. Says Lockett: “Purpose, creative or otherwise is integral to human health and wellbeing. By giving the ensemble members a voice, and allowing them to creatively respond with offers that will be accepted and celebrated, we are empowering and enabling people who are often unseen and unheard. ”

“The arts allow us a playful and powerful space to escape, and give us a platform to be celebrated. For SPARC Theatre this is the most special experience, I predict for both the audience as well as the ensemble.”

Katie Lockett is a theatre practitioner and performer with experience in the UK and Australia. She has had many years of experience working within vulnerable and marginalized communities as well as creating workshops and devised pieces to be performed in schools and at conferences around subject matters including bullying, and binge drinking. She has worked with teenage parents and victims of domestic violence and it was here that Lockett discovered an aptitude for working with performers with an intellectual disability. Lockett began as a volunteer with SPARC Theatre, then became artistic support, before becoming director of the group two years ago.

“If you have ever been lonely then come and see this show – you’ll probably identify with it somewhere,” says Lockett. ” I can’t describe it. It’s an indescribable celebration, and I guarantee you’ll laugh a lot and won’t be lonely during it!”

November 20 – 22

Bookings: www.portphillip.vic.gov.au/sparc_theatre.htm

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