• 21 August 2017

Food for Thought

Daniel Kelly is a Mechanical Engineer within our Building Services team in London who has a passion for the performing arts. Since 2008, he has merged his career with rehearsals to perform in over a dozen shows with South London Theatre (SLT), most recently taking part in Food Bank As It Is (FBAII) with Empty Plate Productions which hopes to spread the word on the UK’s existing foodbank crisis.

Acting is something many of us get involved with at some time, be it school, university or beyond; it’s something I’ve always done and will always do in some capacity. The idea of hobbies and pursuing ‘the business’ must be kept separate; agents often cast a role on how someone looks and not everybody wants to devote their life to something that can be quite superficial! That is why having a full-time job in a vocational career while rehearsing/performing in the evenings, just for the fun of it, works for me and a lot of others in community theatre.

SLT is a truly remarkable, welcoming environment and it’s the amazing people giving up their precious time to address dull pencil-pushing, accountancy and heavy-lifting duties behind the scenes that enable the collective to perform in a huge range of carefully crafted shows throughout the year. I’ve auditioned with other groups across London but SLT is where I feel a true belonging. As well as on-stage performances, I’ve played in stage bands for musicals and helped operate light and sound desks. There are so many ways to get involved and it’s hugely rewarding when an audience show their appreciation.

Daniel Kelly play ContentI’m currently appearing alongside the cast of FBAII as an impoverished mental health worker at various venues across London. This piece is not really a ‘play’, more a series of natural stories which chart a food bank manager’s harrowing real-life experiences with poverty, job centre sanctions, and good people who are being abused by the system – leading to stigma, starvation and exclusion. It is interspersed with devastating statistics about the rising use of food banks in the UK, highlighting a problem which has recently been prominent in the news and was topical during the last general election (the play has no political bias but simply aims to shed light on this very grave and desperate issue).

Since April, we’ve had seven performances in Waterloo, Rotherhithe, Camden and Garden Court Chambers. Every night concludes with a Q&A session with guest speakers at the heart of the cause from social law firms, charities such as the Trussell Trust and activists. These often feature impassioned interjection from visibly upset audience members who have at some point been directly or indirectly affected by this dreadful situation.

The show featured in the Evening Standard in July, largely because of our invitation to perform at the Houses of Parliament on 9th October! We’re now looking to perform at Oxfam’s Headquarters in Oxford before heading to Bangor in Wales on 7th & 8th November and it looks like it’s just going to keep rolling on; this problem is continuing to grow so the more awareness we can raise, the better.

Daniel Kelly

To find out more about upcoming performances, you can visit the Facebook page or Twitter feed @foodbankasitis

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