Summer on Stage!

Ferdy Roberts (Producer), Laura Elphinstone (Nina 3), Farzana Dua Elahe (Shorena), Debbie Chazen, Ryan Sampson (Shota), Sam Troughton (Gocha), Jonjo O’Neill (Robert), Alan Williams (Dave)

Ferdy Roberts (Producer), Laura Elphinstone (Nina 3), Farzana Dua Elahe (Shorena), Debbie Chazen, Ryan Sampson (Shota), Sam Troughton (Gocha), Jonjo O’Neill (Robert), Alan Williams (Dave)

LONDON, United Kingdom  — Anyone staying in or visiting London this summer does not need to feel that they are missing out on the excitement of the season: swap sun hats and unmentionable paperbacks for the willingness to be pulled into the future of the London theatre scene and you are in for a treat. Three of London’s great theatres, the Royal Court and the Almeida, are running festivals that aim to bring us not only new works – some still in progress – but also new ways of interacting with the creativity behind the scenes. Finally, Beyond Barbican brings together dance, theatre, film, art and music to a range of locations across East London.

Rehearsals for the Almeida Festival

Rehearsals for the Almeida Festival

Rehearsals for the Almeida Festival

Rehearsals for the Almeida Festival

The Almeida theatre is getting ready to launch its 2013 Almeida Festival, which will run for a full month between 9 July and 9 August. The festival will use different spaces within the theatre, from the bar to the foyer to a dressing room, to show works in different stages of progress. Inspired by the spirit of previous festivals and a fascination with how new work is made collaboratively, festival curator Lucy Morrison explains how the conscious decision behind the festival is to bring us ‘work in progress’, to see how audiences react to a work in different stages and make this part of a collaborative creative process. Anyone going to the festival will not see a finished, polished play but rather be part of an attempt to readjust the relationship between artist and audience, to blur the separation of the fourth wall and make theatre-goers part of the conversation.

To avoid being ‘genre bound’, Lucy’s selection of artists encompasses dance theatre, non-verbal storytelling, immersive theatre, established artists like Tim Crouch and Lucy Kirkwood and companies from the US and Belarus. The ultimate aim, Lucy tells us, is to bring positive disruption to more traditional, if already brilliant, well-rehearsed ways of creating work and to make artists and spectators think about theatre anew.

You can also still catch the Open Court Festival at the Royal Court, where new Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone has given ‘the keys to the playwrights’ until 20 July. New plays have been commissioned and a repertory company put together for the occasion rehearses and plays a new production each week. Open Court, however, is about more than sitting down to watch a play in the traditional sense: you can sit at a table in a secret nook somewhere in the theatre, and hear a play being read to you directly from the mouth of the playwright; you can watch live as a group of local community actors perform a soap opera about life in Peckham; you can decide to be surprised each night by a different play that is not disclosed until you sit down to watch it; or you can find a play by overhearing bits of a conversation during your commute to work, sending them in to the theatre, and attending their open mic Thursday evenings. Once again, theatre-goers can feel part of the creative process and become part of the theatre, not just as mere spectators but as witnesses to the creative process.

Meanwhile, across London, Beyond Barbican is hosting a series of pop-up events and shows at different locations in East London, from Dalston to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – with film screenings, visual and sound installations, live music and workshops, there is something for everyone!

The London summer stage really is alive!

Tim Crouch and Andy Smith by Mae Li Evans

Tim Crouch and Andy Smith by Mae Li Evans

Courtesy of: Lucy Morrison and Vicky Featherstone  |  Photography by: Press Office Royal Court and Almeida Theatre  |  Websites: www.almeida.co.uk and www.royalcourttheatre.com  |  Edited by: Elizabeth Deheza
Emma De Angelis About the author

A historian by training and editor by profession, reviews the glittering lights of the West End, unsuspected ballet classes in shabby Whitechapel and edgy shows in disused railway tunnels. With a PhD from LSE, she lives and breathes the London stage.

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