Poetry takes front and centre stage at the Albany in March with international award-winning poet, acclaimed Barber Shop Chronicles, Half God of Rainfall playwright and performer Inua Ellams bringing his own brand of poetry and spoken word to South-East London’s leading cultural hub, in collaboration with We Are Lewisham, the Mayor’s London Borough of Culture 2022.
05Fest, held from 10 – 19 March will unite the separate strands of Ellams work which he has staged in theatres and a variety of venues across the UK and internationally over the past 15 years.
The programme of events includes; Search Party, a reactive and spontaneous audience-led poetry show which most recently was performed at the Donmar Warehouse; Poetry Film Hack, a night which adds live poetry readings to the viewing experience of a chosen film to expand, deepen or highlight its themes. Cult 80s film Babylon will be screened; Twitter Poetry Workshop, a mass participatory creative writing session taking place in real time in the twittersphere; and closing the festival is R.A.P Party, in celebration of Lewisham as London’s Borough of Culture 2022, the line-up will feature an all-star cast of poets residing and reverently repping South London.
Kicking off 05Fest, which is named after Ellams ‘mild obsession’ with the number 5, is the world premiere of his newest play, a rehearsed reading of A Block of Flats. This futuristic exploration of climate change, kindness and empathy is set on one night in London. The universal forces of Chaos and Order chose five inhabitants from a block of flats, to decide the fate of humanity. The cast of seven will have multi-rolling parts and will be directed by the Bush Theatre’s Artistic Director Lynette Linton.
Ellams says: “I’m ecstatic and lucky that this inaugural 05Fest is happening in my own neighbourhood. I’ve worked with the Albany for over 10 years, and I hope the community in Deptford and across Lewisham come out to celebrate and explore themselves and local creativity at these 5 events next month.”
About his new play which was redrafted twice during the pandemic lockdowns, Ellams adds: “I wrote A Block of Flats to try and understand folks who lived where I once did, in a block of flats in Brixton. I interviewed them, but the story could be set in any major city anywhere in the world, where the forces of class, capitalism, migration, gentrification and ageism work their ways into our lives, into our very bodies, and cloud us from really seeing each other. All this is framed by climate change, which poses the biggest threat to our way of life. It is a lyrical poetic study of characters with intersection stories, and there’s a huge sci-fi twist I hope audiences will appreciate. “
Gavin Barlow, Chief Executive/Artistic Director of the Albany comments: “We’re thrilled to welcome Inua back to the Albany alongside a host of other poets and creatives for 05Fest. With impactful new work as well as firm-favourites, we’re looking forward to welcoming audiences back and platforming some of the most exciting talent in Lewisham as part of its Borough of Culture year.”