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Award-winning local charity Developing Health & Independence has collaborated with the internationally acclaimed Natural Theatre Company to produce four live, interactive promenade theatre events (part of the Bath Fringe Festival 2014 programme) offering an opportunity for locals and tourists alike to stroll through Bath’s distinctly down-to-earth heritage.

‘Out of the Shadows’ starts from Kingston Parade (by Bath Abbey) at 2pm and 4pm on Friday 30/Saturday 31 May. Participation is free.

Bath’s popularity was largely established on foundations of wealth, splendour, opulence, grandeur and privilege. But there lies a distinctly less salubrious history beneath the city’s superficially pristine image – a thriving culture largely supported by those who lived on the margins of what is still today perceived to be ‘polite’ society. While those stories may not sit politely on Bath’s ‘traditional’ tourist trail, they nevertheless serve to offer a fascinating insight into how the real people of Bath lived, worked, thought, survived and treated their fellow citizens throughout the ages – and continue to challenge our contemporary perceptions of poverty today.

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“Through the ages, the wealthy elite made the city of Bath fashionable. But they also served to support less refined entertainment and activities away from the spa treatments, society balls and promenades,” says Rosie Phillips, Developing Health & Independence CEO. “Bath citizens living on the margins were useful to society and provided a service to meet demand, be it prostitution, gambling and drinking dens or a black market economy for stolen goods. Today, when war threatens, we need an army. When the labour market is buoyant, we need labourers. But in times of hardship and recession, our tolerance for those living on the margins drops dramatically – in effect, we either patronise or punish according to our own circumstances, and history repeats itself.”

The ‘Out of the Shadows’ promenade is described by the event’s producers as “an entertaining journey into Bath’s wilder history” and aims to offer an exploration of society’s approach to poverty through the ages. As the walk progresses, Natural Theatre Company players and Developing Health & Independence service users will present thought-provoking scenes from the Roman, medieval, Georgian, Victorian and 1960s periods, each of which will bring an overlooked aspect of Bath’s past into the spotlight for contemporary consideration.

The event finishes at the DHI’s Beehive drop-in centre (off Walcot Street) where participants will enjoy refreshments and meet Developing Health & Independence staff, trustees and service users, offering an opportunity to learn how Developing Health & Independence challenges social exclusion by supporting individuals to escape the cycle of poverty, achieve their potential and contribute to the richness and wellbeing of their community.

‘Out of the Shadows’ starts from Kingston Parade (by Bath Abbey) at 2pm and 4pm on Friday 30/Saturday 31 May. Participation is free.

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