Kate McCoy is a participatory performance maker, trainer and facilitator who uses theatre to connect people and create playful safe spaces for exploration. She is the founder and artistic director of small performance adventures, a company creating employment and development opportunities with and for people in recovery. Her latest show “The Washing Up” created with artists and participants in addiction recovery uses theatre, storytelling and songs to explore our common experiences through this every day act. It was premiered at Brighton Festival in 2018 and toured nationally in March 2019, alongside an engagement programme that saw community groups with experience of addiction, homelessness and sex work become part of the show.
She has worked in prisons, hospitals, youth clubs, community centres, mental health and addiction recovery settings for over twenty-five years. Highlights include designing and delivering a theatre and arts programme at HMP Styal through TiPP, being artist in residence for the Department of Corrections in Connecticut and delivering a pilot engagement programme for women in PIPES (psychologically informed planned environments) in UK women’s prisons for Clean Break.
She was a founder member and then Artistic Director of The Men’s Room, an arts and social care charity working with young men with experience of sex work, homelessness and the criminal justice system. Together they created performances that were shown in tents, hairdressers, The Royal Exchange and Comedy Store as well as a visual art exhibition displayed on NCP car park railings in Manchester.
In recent years she has been developing her practice to focus on the use of everyday objects and experience to connect on a one-to-one basis for a sideways look into people’s lives. In 2019, she was lead researcher in a creative evaluation on women’s experience through the criminal justice system and women’s centres in Manchester creating a book called ‘Life Objects’ which documented women’s individual and collective stories through a collection of every day objects. In 2018 she was Brighton People’s Theatre and Brighton Festival’s artist in residence visiting food banks, youth groups and community centres using objects to talk about people’s environments with the project “Random acts of neighbourliness”.
Her teaching and training includes work with Manchester and Salford Universities and Central School of Speech and Drama. In 2018 she was UK lead artist working with PORE, a recovery led visual arts organisation, on a European project running creative training with workers in the field of recovery.