Belgrade Theatre teams up with Cardboard Citizens to present The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency

The Belgrade Theatre has teamed up with Cardboard Citizens, who are celebrating their 30th year, to deliver a bespoke programme of work designed co-created with local people with lived experience of homelessness, culminating in the staging of a brand-new musical – The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency.

Adrian Jackson, founding Artistic Director of Cardboard Citizens and director of The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency, said: “Over 30 years we have tried to show how culture can make a difference in the lives of homeless people and help others better understand these lives. So nowhere could be more fitting than the City of Culture to present two connected aspects of our work – a life-affirming musical based on a true story of playful 1970s activism in London to house those most in need, preceded by a devised Forum Theatre style performance in which local homeless and non-homeless people will come together to discuss what can be done here in Coventry.”

Since March 2021, Cardboard Citizens has been working together with the Arts & Homeless Network in Coventry. This June sees Cardboard Camps arrive at the Belgrade – a bespoke theatre workshop programme which aims to build networks and ensure a lasting legacy that brings about positive change for those affected by homelessness. Designed to discover the issues local people experiencing homelessness face, the series of workshops and discussions culminate in the devising of a newly-created interactive theatre piece.

On Fri 23 July, the resulting performance – created by local people with lived experience of homelessness and drawn from their collective stories – will be staged at Belgrade Theatre. The evening’s programme will also offer an opportunity for audience members with and without experience of homelessness in the surrounding city, to discuss the issues presented in the performance before deciding together what actions could be put in place to help bring some of the changes rehearsed on stage into real life.

Cardboard Citizens Cardboard Camps in Bristol. Photographer credit Owain Astles

The Belgrade’s partnership with Cardboard Citizens and Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 continues into the autumn with performances from Sat 9 to Sat 16 Oct (press night: Tues 12 Oct) of a brand-new musical, The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency.

Headlining the Caring City of Coventry strand of the festival, The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency is an exhilarating feel-good musical about community and DIY activism based on the real-life story of the creation of the world’s first ‘estate agency for squatters’. Directed by Cardboard Citizens’ founding Artistic Director, Adrian Jackson, it is based on an original story by the late activist, poet and playwright Heathcote Williams, adapted (book and lyrics) by Sarah Woods, with music by former lead guitarist of Chumbawamba, Boff Whalley. The cast will unite professional actors with a chorus of Coventry citizens who have lived experience of homelessness; further details will be announced this summer.

Established in March 2018, Underground Lights is a Belgrade Theatre Springboard Company, which is run for and by adults experiencing social disadvantage, homelessness and/or mental health issues in Coventry, Warwickshire and the surrounding area. The Belgrade Theatre Springboard initiative, set up in 2015, supports emerging artists to develop their work.

Underground Lights holds a member-led ethos and wants people with personal experience of homelessness and/or mental health issues to be genuinely involved in the development and delivery of activity at every stage and level of the organisation. Underground Lights has been working closely with Cardboard Citizens and is excited to be involved in The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency.

The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency is co-produced by Cardboard Citizens, Coventry UK City of Culture and Belgrade Theatre.

Cardboard Camps takes place on Fri 23 July.
The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency runs from Sat 9 – Sat 16 Oct. Tickets are currently on sale to Members.
Tickets are on sale now and can be booked by calling the box office on 024 7655 3055 (phone lines open Mon – Sat 10.30am to 2pm) or visit
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