During Spring 2016, the A Nation’s Theatre Festival will spill across London as part of a two-month celebration of theatre from around the UK, in partnership with the Guardian. 18 theatres in London are joining forces to shine a light on theatre-makers based in villages, towns and cities with wildly different backdrops and characteristics that colour the work that they make.
A multitude of styles and formats provide a snapshot of UK theatre and creativity. Audiences are invited to experience and champion a rich variety of work including one-on-one aerial circus made in Glasgow, fairytales rooted in Cornwall brought to life by hand-carved puppets and an audio performance from Belfast experienced whilst lying in a hospital bed.
During the festival in April and May over 60 shows will be performed by more than 350 artists, with some travelling over 400 miles to reach venues across London. The festival will also feature takeovers of London venues from Sheffield showcase Forge North, Glasgow’s //BUZZCUT// festival, Leicester’s Curve Theatre and Leeds-based Transform festival. Artists Emma Frankland and Myriddin Wannell from Truro, Little Bulb Theatre from Farnham, Victoria Melody from Cheshire and Tom de Freston from Sidmouth will also design and create performances for Battersea Arts Centre’s new artist bedrooms and living quarters, inspired by where they live and where they grew up.
For early-career artists interested in discovering what support initiatives exist across the country a day-long event – All Tomorrow’s Theatre – will bring them together with venues, producers and organisations to discuss the future of artist development. Ideas for new shows will also be bubbling away during artist residencies at venues across the city.
Over the coming months a clutch of Guardian Live conversations will be presented by Arena Theatre and Unlimited in Wolverhampton, Farnham Maltings, National Theatre of Wales and Curve Theatre in Leicester to discuss questions including whether disability is a creative advantage and how to ensure the very best theatre is being shown all over the UK, accompanied by a series of Guardian Theatre blogs and articles.
As well as celebrating the rich breadth of theatre being made across the UK, A Nation’s Theatre Festival aims to provoke thought on topics including reversing the flow of theatre from London out to the rest of the UK, encouraging more arts provision outside of the capital and what theatre can tell us about politics, devolution and identity.
For the full festival programme please see Listings Information from page 4 of the press release attached or visit www.anationstheatre.org.uk.
Suba Das, Associate Director, Curve Theatre Leicester: “As shoppers in 2016, we’ve started to realise that the word “local” means something fresh, unique, healthy – we’re heaving with farmers markets, pop-ups, delis. But in the theatre universe there is a suspicion that “local” somehow means “amateur”, “on the cheap”, “half-done”. We’re so proud to be part of a festival that aims to demolish these assumptions. In Leicester, one of the most culturally diverse cities in Europe, the theatre being made locally brings together unexpected perspectives; challenges conventions of form and structure; celebrates uniqueness while striving for universality. Our artists; culturally, geographically and metaphorically on the edge of the mainstream, create work that takes an unexpected, sideways look. It’s anarchic, contemporary but resolutely accessible.”
Shannon Yee, Belfast-based Artist commented: “I’m thrilled to be part of the A Nation’s Theatre Festival this spring. Because of its geographical location, Northern Ireland can often be forgotten about in larger discussions about UK theatre, so I look forward to how the work done here can contribute to a wider conversation about diverse theatre-making practices.”
David Jubb, Artistic Director and CEO, Battersea Arts Centre: “There’s been a lot of talk about theatre being live-streamed out of London to the rest of the UK. As a group of theatres and artists, we thought it would be fun to reverse the stream: to encourage more partnerships between those based in London and those around the UK, as well as shine a light on where this already happens. Hopefully, the festival in April/May will be an opportunity to explore the idea of A Nation’s Theatre in 2016; it should certainly be a great opportunity for audiences in London to see a broad range of theatre from around our nation and nations.”
A Nation’s Theatre is both a celebration of UK theatre ecology and a provocation to encourage conversations and debate about its state.
A Nation’s Theatre was conceived through conversations with artists and venues from outside of London with Battersea Arts Centre in partnership with The Guardian. The A Nation’s Theatre festival follows a year of shows, events and editorial. In 2015 over 20 artists from around the UK presented shows at Battersea Arts Centre and the Guardian kick-started a diverse range of blogs and articles exploring regional identity in theatre and issues within the industry of local and national importance. A series of Guardian Live conversations were held covering topics ranging from nationhood and devolution at HOME in Manchester to Adventures with the Audience presented by Replay Theatre at The MAC in Belfast.
Audio recordings of these conversations are available to listen to via Battersea Arts Centre’s SoundCloud.
ARTISTS, COMPANIES AND ORGANISATIONS
FROM NORTHERN IRELAND
Shannon Yee (Belfast)
Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (Cardiff), Light, Ladd & Emberton (Cardiff), Tom Bromage with Joseph Badman (Cardiff), Mr and Mrs Clark (Newport)
Ellie Dubois (Glasgow), Birds of Paradise, Random Accomplice (Glasgow), Vanishing Point (Glasgow), Peter McMaster (Glasgow), //BUZZCUT// (Glasgow), Nic Green (Glasgow), Fish and Game (Glasgow), Traverse Theatre (Edinburgh), Livingstones Kabinet (Scotland & Denmark)
FROM NORTH EAST
Luxi (Darlington), Unfolding Theatre (Newcastle), Camisado Club (Newcastle), Luca Rutherford (Newcastle), ARC Stockton
FROM NORTH WEST
LipService (Manchester), Cheryl Martin, hÅb for Domestic II (Manchester), Babel Theatre (Manchester), Animikii (Manchester), Eggs Collective (Manchester), 20 Stories High (Liverpool), Andy Smith (Lancaster), Victoria Melody (Cheshire)
Target Theatre Company (Doncaster), Theatre Delicatessen (Sheffield), Matthew Bellwood (Leeds), Selina Thompson (Leeds), Stitch Theatre (Leeds), Transform Festival (Leeds), Jamal Gerald (Leeds), Freedom Studios (Bradford), Freehand Theatre (West Yorkshire), Daniel Bye (Middlesbrough), Lizi Patch (North Yorkshire), Silent Uproar (Hull), Middle Child (Hull)
FROM EAST MIDLANDS
In Good Company (East Midlands), Engine House Productions (Nottingham), Michael Pinchbeck (Nottingham), Reckless Sleepers (Nottingham and Belgium), The Human Zoo Theatre Company (Wellingborough), 2Magpies Theatre (Leicester), Rachael Young (Leicester), Curve Theatre (Leicester)
FROM WEST MIDLANDS
Breach Theatre (Warwick), Demi Nandhra (Birmingham), Sonia Sabri Company (Birmingham), Charlene James (Playwright from Birmingham)
FROM EAST ANGLIA
Lost In Translation (Norfolk), Ripstop Theatre (Norfolk), Norwich Puppet Theatre
FROM SOUTH EAST
Birdsnest Theatre (St Albans), Little Bulb Theatre (Farnham), Casson & Friends, Stopgap Dance Company (South East), Laura Jane Dean (Oxford), Oxford Playhouse (Oxford), Idle Motion (Oxford), VIDEOfeet (Hertfordshire)
Hand to Mouth Theatre (Hampshire), Seth Kriebel (Brighton), Lost Dog (East Sussex)
FROM SOUTH WEST
Light Theatre (Cornwall), Emma Frankland and Myriddin Wannell (Truro), Kaleider (Exeter), Laura Dannequin (Bristol), Ria Hartley (Bristol), Uninvited Guests (Bristol), Two Destination Language (Salisbury), Documental Theatre (Devon), Hugh McCann (Devon), Scratchworks Theatre Company (Devon), Tom de Freston (Sidmouth)
COLLABORATORS FROM LONDON
Theatre-Rites, Tamasha Theatre Company
The Albany, artsdepot, Barbican, Battersea Arts Centre, Camden People’s Theatre, Gate Theatre, Jacksons Lane, Little Angel Theatre, New Diorama Theatre, Pleasance, Polka Theatre, Rich Mix, Roundhouse, Soho Theatre, Southbank Centre, Toynbee Studios (Artsadmin), Unicorn Theatre, Young Vic.