Camden People’s Theatre will host four new digital, live and hybrid works to explore what forms theatre can take while venues remain closed. Launched in the summer, the Outside the Box commission is designed to support artists and highlight the experiences of those in the local community during the pandemic.
Bespoke to the present period of social distancing, self isolation and lockdown, the four artists, John Akinde, Pigfoot Theatre, Adam Welsh and Anna Morrissey & Tristan Kajanus address global issues locally, speaking to those across the community from climate advocates and school goers to family and the elderly, the rap world and those with experience of the justice system.
Brian Logan, Artistic Director of Camden People’s Theatre, said: “CPT is absolutely thrilled to be launching these four extraordinary projects into the world. Our ambition with Outside the Box was to support artists in critical need; to offer exciting cultural experiences to our local communities; and to explore what ‘live’ means when theatres and their stages are out of bounds. This quartet of projects, selected from almost 200 applications, have far exceeded those expectations, digging deeply into the pandemic experience of isolation and marginalisation, plugging Camden’s young people into the global conversation around the climate crisis, and excavating the hidden histories of our area. They stand as an inspiring symbol of these artists’ shape-shifting creativity at a time of crisis – and we can’t wait to share them with audiences.”
In July 2019, Camden Council was the first in the UK to host a Citizens Assembly on improving sustainability which made 17 recommendations placing the borough at the forefront of the climate change discussion. The perfect host borough for Pigfoot Theatre, the first carbon neutral theatre company in the UK, to engage with 13-year-old climate advocates from Camden’s Acland Burghley school. The students interview 27 climate campaigners at the frontline of the crisis from Moscow to Malawi as part of the R&D for their new show. The company will share a short teaser for the project in March 2021, before developing the full production. Hot In Here ‘carbon-neutral dance party’ is a hopeful and multidisciplinary piece of ‘protest theatre’ powered by the energy generated by the performers’ collective bodies through an energy harvesting dancefloor
John Akinde (aka OSOM) speaks to the East London rap scene for unfiltered, candid podcast Rap Therapy. Rap Therapy is part of Project Mandem which centres around mental health, identity and music. The six-part podcast series offers an insight into UK rap culture from both the industry and the streets. Getting to the heart of ‘real’ issues, the conversations and interviews cover everything from signing record deals to gang violence and getting therapy. Project Mandem will also feature a forthcoming pilot web series informed by storytellers who also happen to be ex-offenders. The multi-disciplinary project hopes to bring about a shared awareness of societal inequalities, the British prison experience, mental health and Covid-19.
During the pandemic, we’ve had a lot of time for reflection. For writer and performer Adam Welsh, this has been a time to imagine the future. The future of theatre, society and his own life. However, Adam can’t seem to visualise what’s ahead. All he sees in front of him is the past.
No Future will be a live streamed performance that merges theatre and film. The piece is an attempt to understand the future through reconstruction. After returning home to find his flat ransacked, Adam finds a series of clues that tell him who he is. The scene of the crime becomes a scene of visiting ghosts. No Future is about vision, restoring order, and the past coming to meet you. Inspired by conversations with CPT’s local communities, No Future blends super-8 film with recordings of phone conversations between Adam and his shielding Grandmother Eve. Accompanying the performance will be a digital exhibition of spin-off short films, artworks, and the reflections of community members Kate (78) and Jessica (96).
Former students Anna Morrissey & Tristan Kajanus place North Westminster Community school, now a luxury housing development, back on the map in North West, a headphones-based audio artwork.
Mixing recorded verbatim testimony with sound design and recorded music, the immersive experience documents the stories, testimonies and memories of the former students of North Westminster Community School, which stood in the Paddington Basin for 25 years before being demolished in 2006 to make way for a luxury housing complex. There is almost nothing to testify to the school’s existence apart from a one-line entry on Wikipedia.
The project is presented in real life via a walking route within Paddington Basin while the participant listens to an accompanying sound composition – it can also be experienced at home via Soundcloud, Mixcloud or Youtube. Anna and Tristan have collaborated for the first time to give a voice to this environment and make a stand against the erasure of our personal history in the face of gentrification.
Outside The Box Commissions streaming digitally from Friday 19 March until Saturday 22 May 2021 here