Sex, gambling and more at arts festival at Marylebone’s Cockpit Theatre

A Marylebone theatre is about to launch a “pioneering” week of performances and workshops dedicated to shining a light on improving people’s health.

The Cockpit in Gateforth Street is behind the Arts Of Wellbeing programme that will see a raft of activities for people of all ages, looking at health issues covering sex, gambling, alcohol, dementia and other mental health problems, among much else.

Launching on Monday and running to Sunday, traditional theatre will sit alongside writing, dance, singing, spoken word and music, not to mention talks and workshops – and many of the events are free.

Highlights in the evenings include feted spoken word artist Dominic Berry, giving a heartfelt, funny show on Tuesday about anxiety and forgetting how to breathe in the biscuit aisle of Tesco.

On Thursday, French theatre group Theatre Re draws on the experience of gambling addicts in London to tell the story of Edgar, each spin of the roulette wheel recalling the promise of a life he could have had.

On Wednesday night, award-winning performer Peta Lily asks some difficult questions in a sexy show set on the battleground between trust and lust; must “a certain age” mean chastity for women? Could a sex strike end war? Is intimacy dangerous?

Saturday night sees poetry meet surreal humour in Dominic Berry’s Wizard, which explores agoraphobia and how one person handles the modern mental health system.

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On Monday evening the South Westminster Community Choir performs a range of well-known songs from African folk to jazz, pop and classical choral works, all for free.

Daytime offerings include a three-day theatre workshop by the Peta Lily Company, a music workshop for people living with dementia and their carers, drama sessions for teenagers, a tribal and folk dance workshop for toddlers and their carers by the Lahing Kayumanggi Dance Company, a play on domestic violence written by Nobel Prize for Literature nominee Dacia Maraini, an art workshop on pregnancy, salsa workshop for older people and a talk from a local film-maker.

Project manager Sheridan Orr said the events are “designed to entertain and benefit a wide range of people in our community”.

She added: “Westminster Arts and The Cockpit are really enthusiastic about this project as it is the first of its kind in the area and, if current interest is anything to go by, it should be a great success with some sessions already fully booked.

“This may mean that the programme can continue to be run on an annual basis. As funding to the arts continues to be squeezed, it is a great opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to take part in a wide range of events – and many of them are free.

“There is something for everyone – whether you want to enjoy some brilliant and funny fringe theatre or go salsa dancing, join in a drama workshop or a music hall sing-along, make your own cards or debate health issues.

“The overall focus is on health and wellbeing through enjoyment and participation of creative arts.”

Places at many shows have to be booked in advance.

- For more information, visit or call The Cockpit on 020-7258 2925 during office hours.