For their Spring Season 2017, Ovalhouse have returned to their roots of home-grown talent, staging urgent, radical theatre that continues to inspire. This will be Owen Calvert-Lyon’s first major season as Head of Theatre and Artist Development at Ovalhouse – London’s longest serving commissioning theatre.
This season provides an imaginative and innovative collection of shows including TOOT’s exploration of the dark heart of commercial culture, the discovery and connection of female ancestors in Perfectly Imperfect Women and Custody’s exploration of suffering from police injustice. Alongside the 130th show by People Show and two magically wonderful family shows providing some half term fun, the season concludes with two Edinburgh Festival Fringe hits – JOAN, a gritty and tender re-telling of Joan of Arc, and Eurohouse – a darkly comic view of the Greek financial crisis.
Owen Calvert-Lyon, Ovalhouse’s Head of Theatre & Artist Development, comments, “It is such a privilege to create a theatre programme for this iconic venue. Ovalhouse has an extraordinary history as a home for radical theatre. In the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s all of the revolutionary theatre movements had a home here. From Gay Sweat Shop to the Black Panthers, Ovalhouse ensured that marginalised voices and ideas were brought into the mainstream. My first season intends to continue that great legacy; ensuring that new artists, with new things to say, have the space in which to say them, to ensure that we take risks on both art and artists. Our job is to ensure that we create an environment in which the next radical theatre movement, when it comes along, is recognised, nurtured and championed.”
The captivating Spring Season 2017 is as follows:
Focus Group* by TOOT (31 January – 4 February, 7.30pm)
*or How to Stare Down and Transfigure Loneliness
An absurd comedy with a dark heart, exploring the absurdity of modern life and consumer culture with humanity and humour. It is dark, unsettling and playful. Through TOOT’s distinctive style of interactive performance, Focus Group* celebrates the human drive to continue in what can feel like an increasingly remote reality.
Moonshine’s Entirely Necessary Adventure by Magic Maverick (13 – 14 February, 2pm)
Moonshine is a girl of thirteen with silver skin and a fierce thirst for adventure. She spends most days battling the armies of doom in the safety of her own mind, but as a powerful voice turns her forest home into a place of fear, she starts to ask questions which make the adventure dangerously real. Filled with live music, shadow puppetry and clowning. For ages 8+
The Many Doors of Frank Feelbad by Bootworks (16 – 19 February, 11.30am, 2pm)
Frank is an inquisitive chap with a big problem; what’s happened to Mum? Join Frank on his adventure to find her. There’ll be scavenger hunts, puzzles to solve and even some dancing to dub-step. Dealing sensitively with grief and loss, the show asks how we cope when things go missing. For ages 5+
The Last Straw by People Show (21 – 25 February, 7.30pm)
Part of People Show’s 50th Year Celebrations, this is an untamed journey through internal politics, the wild west, the plagues of humankind and disaster movies. Sometimes bad decisions have to be made. Sometimes there has to be a voice that tells the most lies. Sometimes there is no light at the end of tunnel. Sometimes there…
Perfectly Imperfect Women by Wizard Presents (8 – 10 March, 7.45pm)
Multi-award-winning storyteller Danyah Miller explores the complex and often imperfect relationship between mother and daughter. Created to celebrate International Women’s Day 2017, this inspirational biographical wonder-tale tells the story of five generations of women, beginning with Danyah’s Great-Grandmother.
Custody by Urban Wolf (28 March – 8 April, 7.45pm)
Another young black man dies in police custody. Apparently no-one is to blame. Custody, a play created by young black performer Urban Wolf and written by veteran Tom Wainwright (Banksy: the Room in the Elephant), is a contemporary fictional narrative about the moment a young black man’s life is taken from him by the enforcers of a system that is meant to be there to protect him.
JOAN by Milk Presents (11 – 22 April, 7.30pm)
An earthy story of courage, conviction and hope, this is Joan of Arc. Packed with guts and heart, JOAN is performed by drag king champion Lucy Jane Parkinson, history’s greatest gender-warrior takes to the stage, dragging up as the men she defies in this smash hit show. What happens when a disguise becomes something a lot more real and you have to fight for who you really are?
Eurohouse by FellSwoop Theatre (25 – 29 April, 7.30pm)
Two performers – one Greek, one French – dance and shout, cry and sing, agree and disagree, about life in the Eurohouse. Made in transit between Greece and the UK, Eurohouse is a darkly comic look at the EU’s founding ideals and what got lost along the way.
Ovalhouse’s Spring Season also includes eight FiRST BiTES; these new works-in-development are a chance to see raw new ideas by a diverse group of artists. The new FiRST BiTES are: I am a Tree by Jamie Wood (1 – 2 February, 7.45pm) Jamie Wood returns to where he was born to try to find out the valuable lesson his granddad had taught him; a homemade pilgrimage, a return to roots, slow motion time travel. The show will be something else entirely.
A FiRST BiTES Triple Bill by Corali (28 February – 1 March 7.45pm)
New studio works comprising solo, duet and ensemble pieces following a recent research and development phase that includes collaborations with Jasmine Wilson (Studio Wayne MgGregor), Gloria Sanvicente Amor, Intoart and Tate Exchange. Devised by Corali’s core group of dancers who all have learning disabilities.
The Dark by Nick Makoha (2 – 4 March, 7.45pm)
A new one-person live literature experience written and performed by award-winning poet Nick Makoha. What unfolds is a story of those who find themselves exiled, with allegiances split between their birthplace and their new country.
Milky Peaks by Seiriol Davies (9 – 11 March, 7.30pm)
A bad man is murdered in a niceish hotel, an arts administrator hides a terrible Mafia-based secret (she was in the Mafia), an evil councillor makes a land grab, and – at the centre of it all – a ropey drag queen fights for survival in a changing world.
Pot by Ambreen Razia (30 March – 1 April, 7.45pm)
From the team who brought you The Diary of a Hounslow Girl, writer Ambreen Razia returns with her second play. Pot is an exploration of the landscape of Britain’s invisible children, adrift in the care system and inadvertently impacted by gang culture. A generation of young men find themselves burning with resentment without the money, power and sex they think they deserve.
The Believers Are But Brothers by Javaad Alipoor (7 – 8 April, 7.45pm)
A generation of young men find themselves burning with resentment without the money, power and sex they think they deserve. What happens when the crisis of masculinity leads you into an online world of fantasy, violence and reality?
Quarter Life Crisis by Yolanda Mercy (13 – 15 April, 7.45pm)
Ovalhouse Associate Artist Yolanda Mercy is back with a coming of age comedy which features live music and audience participation. This is an upbeat take on the millennial phenomenon of big dreams, no cash, YouTube tutorials and going viral.
So Many Reasons by Racheal Ofori (20 – 21 April, 7.45pm)
Melissa reflects on her relationship with her own mother, and on how much – or how little – the world has changed for women. So Many Reasons is a new work inspired in part by Anna Reading’s A Letter to my Dearest Daughter and fuses narrative and poetry.
Ovalhouse, 52-54 Kennington Oval, London SE11 5SW