Much-loved comedian and actor Karen Dunbar has launched a new venture in partnership with the Citizens Theatre, introducing community groups to the joys of rap with her online Spoken Word Club.

The sessions, which aim to combat isolation and spread positivity, are the perfect antidote to lockdown blues. Following a successful pilot project with members of the Citizens Community Collective last year, Karen will lead two new groups for the Citizens Theatre, delivering workshops via Zoom.

Participants will explore different styles of spoken word – including rap and grime and beat poetry. The sessions will cover lyric writing, beat making and performance techniques, culminating in a celebratory showcase event featuring some special guest artists.

The Spoken Word Club members are made up of participants from the Citizens’ regular groups, including senior citizens who have never rapped before, learning-disabled performers, and care-experienced young people. The new Spoken Word Club is one of several online initiatives developed in response to Covid-19 restrictions as the Citizens Theatre remains committed to keeping connected to the many communities it serves across Glasgow.

With a career spanning three decades, Karen Dunbar is a household name on Scottish screens and stages, well-known for her self-titled TV sketch show and her scene stealing pantomime roles.

Speaking about the project, Karen commented: “I love hip-hop, I’ve always loved it! Rap is essentially spoken word performance – and I’m an actor so that’s a big part of what I do. With its empowering lyrics and feel-good beats, it seemed like the ideal creative activity for lockdown. The pilot sessions with the Citizen Theatre’s Community Collective were great. Some folks liked rap, some weren’t so keen, but by the end of the workshops they were all right intae it! I’m looking forward to continuing my rap workshop adventure and getting to know the new participants as they learn how to express themselves through rhyme.”

Elly Goodman, Community Drama Artist, said: “We were really excited when Karen Dunbar suggested a Spoken Word Club. Throughout lockdown it’s been vital that the Citizens continue to reach out to our extended family of participants, especially those people whose lives have been badly affected by the pandemic. Karen’s entertaining and empowering workshops are a fun way for people to come together online and try something completely new.”

Karen Dunbar’s Spoken Word Club is supported by a Glasgow-based family trust.





Workshops will run on Mondays and Thursdays until 4 March. Participant groups involved include Community Collective, Off The Page, WAC Ensemble, Young Co. and Saturday Citizens.


Karen Dunbar is one of Scotland’s favourite comedy actors. She is particularly well known for her hit BBC sketch show The Karen Dunbar Show, which received two Golden Rose nominations, and her live stand-up act, which sold out three years running at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She is a familiar face on stage too, having performed with Traverse Theatre, Oran Mor, Donmar Warehouse, and the National Theatre, as well as regular roles in the Kings Theatre’s popular pantomimes. Her career began as a DJ and in 2004 she recorded her own album ‘At This Moment’.


The Citizens Theatre’s learning and community engagement programme is at the heart of the company’s work to engage people from all walks of life with the theatre. Over the past 20 years, the Citizens Learning Team has built a reputation for delivering a pioneering range of creative participatory projects for varied communities and in the education sector.

In response to Covid-19 restrictions, the Learning Team launched a lifeline outreach programme, using creativity and performance to stay connected and support participants, especially those whose lives have been badly affected by the pandemic.

Ongoing initiatives by the Citizens Learning team include:

  • Through My Window: a project to support women experiencing homelessness during the pandemic.
  • Community Collective: weekly drop-in sessions online and socially-distant visits for people from all walks of life who share an interest in theatre.
  • Saturday Citizens: online drama sessions for young people aged 14-18 with a learning disability.
  • Friday Club: weekly group sessions exploring creative skill.
  • WAC Ensemble: weekly group sessions online for care experienced young actors aged 18-26.
  • Young Co.: weekly group sessions online for 18-22 year olds that provides opportunities in acting, writing and devising.
  • Off The Page: online play-reading group for older adults.

More information regarding Citizens’ learning projects can be found here: https://www.citz.co.uk/take-part

Return to Press