In 2018, Dante or Die were looking for partners to bring their show Take On Me to leisure centres across the UK.

As Dante or Die describe the show as;

Set in the 1980s world of headbands and leg warmers, it follows a lonely woman coming to the gym for the first time and a lifeguard who has never saved anyone.

Live musicians belt out classic 80’s hits including ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ and ‘Flashdance’, and lead you through the changing rooms, gym, an aerobics class and finally the pool. You are a fly on the wall for one extraordinary day in these people’s lives, as characters from 80’s films appear out of nowhere to change the course of fate.

A guest cast of local people play various parts including the Karate Kid, the centre receptionist and pool spectators who suddenly break into a rendition of ‘Holding Out for a Hero’.

You’ll never look at your leisure centre in quite the same way again!



The concept for Take On Me had been developed with Surrey Arts Partnership to bring a high quality performance to a community venue for people to join in as cast members, crew, front of house and audience.

Hearing about the way in which the show worked, we felt inspired and saw a great match with how we work and that it gave us a chance to use a familiar spaces in a new way that isn’t traditionally linked to the arts.


In the green room – or squash court – of Take On Me, Hoo Leisure Centre, 2018 (Photo: Simon Martin)

Our Aims

With this project we wanted to build a stronger relationship, not only with the community that the show would take place in, but with Medway Council’s Arts & Culture, and Sports departments.

We recruited Emma Dewhurst as a Local Co-ordinator. She would be responsible for recruiting the community cast/crew.

With Emma’s research and outreach work, she was able to work closely with the Rehearsal Director Anna getting out and about to visit aerobics classes, amateur dramatics groups and community choirs.

The Results

  •  61 people took part in 44 events with 8 artists
  •  There were 4 final performances for 164 audience members on a limited capacity show
  • 2625 online engagements
  • 97% of the audience said Take On Me made them want to get more involved with the arts
  • 96% would recommend the show to a friend
  • 26% of audiences came to the show to try something new


The Audience waiting to see Take On Me at Hoo Leisure Centre, 2018. (Photo: Simon Martin)

What the community cast said:

To feel wanted, to be part of a team again and to take me out of my comfort zone. I absolutely loved it. Thank you so much for giving an old bird like me a chance to be in a production like this.

Cast Member, Take On Me, Hoo


I’ve always said “I can’t, I can’t!” and I’ve found it very frustrating for years saying “I can’t, I can’t!”. And thought “I’m fed up saying ‘I can’t’…I’m going to say ‘I can’”. And so this came up. And yeah…it’s been a really important experience.

Cast Member, Take On Me, Hoo

Take On Me, Hoo Leisure Centre, 2018 (Photo: Simon Martin)

To read a full Case Study of Take On Me visit the Culturehive website [external link]


Take On Me at Hoo Leisure Centre was made possible by our partners at Medway Council, huge thanks to the Arts and Sports teams.


About Dante or Die

Led by co-founders Daphna Attias and Terry O’Donovan, Dante or Die work to interrogate and celebrate the human condition through the exploration of contemporary social concerns.

Dante or Die have partnered with a wide range of organisations including The Lowry and the Almeida Theatre, the Arts Partnership Surrey and Creative Arts East as well as businesses such as Hilton Hotel and Lok’nStore. They are SITELINES Associate Artists at South Street Reading, which champions performance in unusual locations.

The name ‘Dante or Die’ comes from the site where Daphna and Terry first made a site-specific performance together in the skate park of Kennington Park many years ago. The grafitti that has the words Dante or Die still scrawled there…