To Do: A Nation’s Theatre Festival
After last week’s slight case of cabin fever, I’ve slowly adapted to the pace of freelance life by spending more time out of the house. This weekend Rob and I wanted to pop down to Hastings to spend some time by the sea but it was really hard to find last minute accomodation so we played the London tourists instead. We spent Saturday in Lower Marsh, Waterloo, and Hampstead Village, and a sunny Sunday in Brixton, Herne Hill, and Crystal Palace.
I have to say we’ve got quite a crush on Herne Hill at the moment, it’s such a nice neighborhood. Just a throw away from the buzz of Brixton, it feels smaller and quieter and has an amazing village vibe. There’s the lido, nice artisan shops and grocers, and Brockwell Park. It’s firmly on my radar now and I think if we moved from Kennington for a slightly bigger flat, we’d probably look there. I’m tempted to set up some email alerts.
Anyway, I’m digressing. Back to today’s blog post! With more time than I knew what to do with last week, I dived into all things going on in London over the next couple of months to plan culture outings with friends. I hadn’t had time to properly do this in a long time and today I’m sharing with you an exciting festival held in London this April and May that you may not have heard about. It’s called A Nation’s Theatre and is supported by Arts Council England and The Guardian.
There are 17 London venues taking part and showcasing the work of theatre companies and artists from villages, towns, and cities from all over the UK. The idea is to celebrate the diversity of the theatre ecology across the country and to give a platform to the innovative work of artists who live differently. It’s a good opportunity for London audiences to experience original voices too, and the occasion to take part in a much-needed conversation about encouraging more arts provision outside of the capital.
Sounds good? Here is what’s on my calendar:
A Nation’s Theatre: April Picks
A play by Breach Theatre from Warwick // Get tickets
At Battersea Arts Centre (£10) from April 5th to 21st
“It’s been 30 years since the Battle of the Beanfield – a brutal crackdown on the annual Stonehenge Free Festival. Called away from policing the miners’ strike, officers enforced an injunction around the ancient stones with bloody violence and mass arrests. Armed with a camera, a map and home-made riot gear, Breach set out to mark the anniversary with a historical re-enactment. Blending documentary footage with new writing, Breach presents a multimedia show about state violence and national heritage.”
A play by Traverse Theatre from Edinburgh // Get tickets
At Pleasance Theatre (£15) from April 12th to 24th
“Everything that happens is created by you. Crash is the story of an enigmatic trader attempting to rebuild his life following a tragic event. As he takes the first tentative steps back into the brutal landscape of trading stocks, he feels the pressure begin to build.”
A play by Kaleider from Exeter // Get tickets
At The Albany (£12) from April 14th
“A cross between a game and a theatrical performance. You can choose to be either a Silent Witness and watch or a Benefactor and take part in coming to a unanimous decision about how to spend a pot of real cash. If you decide before the clock ticks down then you get to spend it, if not you lose the cash.”
A Super Happy Story About Feeling Super Sad
A play by Silent Uproar from Hull // Get tickets
At New Diorama Theatre (£12.50) on April 24th and 25th
“Sally Turner is a happy person. She doesn’t let little things get her down, she almost never cries, and she’s always the life and soul of any party. But she’s also got an illness – one that makes her feel like she isn’t the person she wants to be. Mixing elements of storytelling, live music and sketch comedy, it’s a fun, silly and sad show for anyone who has a brain that hasn’t always been on their side.”
The Destroyed Room
A play by Vanishing Point from Glasgow // Get tickets
At Battersea Arts Centre (£17.50) from April 27th to May 14th
“The Destroyed Room takes inspiration from Jeff Wall’s famous photograph, which shows a ransacked room, every item of furniture torn up and destroyed. The show begins with the recording of a debate. A group of guests gather, they drink wine, discuss things they have witnessed and debate the ethics of watching. Cameras film every word and every reaction. As the debate intensifies, slowly and as if in a dream, the atmosphere begins to change. It’s about what we see and what we turn away from. And what’s coming.”
The Last Supper
A play by Reckless Sleepers from Nottingham // Get tickets
At Southbank Centre (£15) from April 28th to May 3rd
“An intimate theatre piece using the final words of history’s famous and not so famous. Staged in London for the first time in over 10 years, The Last Supper tackles notions around death, fame, immortality and myth. Each audience member will be given a table number, a case number, where thirteen of these are final meal requests. Take a seat at this unconventional table and delve deep into the lives of criminals, victims, heroes, heroines and stars.”
A Nation’s Theatre: May Picks
You Must Be The One To Bury Me
A play by Babel Theatre from Manchester // Get tickets
At New Diorama Theatre (£12.50) on May 1st and 2nd
“As Richard’s grasp on reality crumbles, the fantasies, memories and monsters of his recent relationship materialise in his flat around him, subjecting him to an onslaught of romantic terrorism. This story of a modern day relationship looks at the complicated issues of the nature of memory, personal identity and loss. It tackles the complexities of remembering an event in our mind differently to how it actually occurred.”
You, Me and Everything Else
A play by Camisado Club from Newcastle // Get tickets
At Soho Theatre (£15) from May 3rd to 7th
“If you could send a mixtape to outer space, on behalf of planet Earth, what would be on it? Right now, there’s a golden record hurtling through space. It’s about you and me. You, me and the world. You, me and the universe. It’s a mixtape of humanity, a collection of songs, sounds and pictures from Earth, a valentine from the human race to whoever or whatever finds it. A science-fact love story. Two ordinary people do an extraordinary thing. Two ordinary people look out into the universe and find the most human thing: love.”
The Man Who Flew Into Space From His Apartment
A play by Michael Pinchbeck from Nottingham // Get tickets
At Battersea Arts Centre (£8) from May 5th to May 7th
“The first thing to do if you ever find yourself expelled into the vacuum of space is exhale. An immersive slideshow inspired by an installation by Russian artist Ilya Kabakov. A guest performer follows instructions on headphones that they have never heard before in front of 10 people. The performance explores what it’s like to escape, making a journey like Kabakov, between east and west, flying and falling, attempt and failure. Outer space meets the theatre space as the journey of the man who flew into space from his apartment collides with that of the guest performer, taking a leap of faith and heading into the unknown.”
The Thadows Loom & The Sun Is Black
A play By VIDEOfeet Digital Arts from Hertfordshire // Get tickets
At Rich Mix (£10) on May 27th
“The Thadows Loom & The Sun is Black follows the story of a couple travelling to a remote house at the foot of a mountain. After witnessing an unsettling argument between two strangers they begin to question the nature of themselves and their relationship. Overwatched by a distant, mysterious figure who is always just out of reach, they soon realise not all is as it seems, and their situation, dwarfed by a cataclysmic event set deep in the cosmos, forces them to question the nature of their own reality.”
Tempted by any of these?
If so you’re in luck, with ticket prices around the £10 mark, it’s a really affordable culture fix. If you’d like to see the whole programme, head to A Nation’s Theatre and take part in the conversation on social media around the #anationstheatre hashtag. If you’re interested in reading more on the debate around the imbalance of funding across the UK theatre’s landscape, you can hop on to the featured editorials in The Guardian.