Pleasance Futures is the artist development strand of The Pleasance, acting as an incubator for bold new theatre makers to make their mark. At the very heart of the Pleasance Theatre Trust, Pleasance Futures embodies their commitment to discovering and supporting the most exciting new theatrical voices, nurturing the ambition and development of emerging companies, young performers and new writers.
Pleasance Futures opens doors for artists by generating and funding creative opportunities; the 2022 Edinburgh Pleasance Futures season is bold and ambitious with outstanding new work from some of the most dynamic up-and-coming companies throughout the UK.
The only type of artist development funding of its kind at the Fringe, Pleasance Futures accounts for 80% of the open access direct financial support to artists across the Festival. 2022 will see the Pleasance support a record number of artists and companies through the investment of over £150,000 (both in-kind and direct financial support) via Pleasance Futures. This major investment reflects the Pleasance’s core beliefs.
The 23 productions that form the Futures programme encompass the Charlie Hartill Theatre and Comedy Reserve; the Generate Fund for UK-based Black, Asian and Global Majority Artists (supported by the Charlie Hartill Special Reserve); Young Pleasance; the National Partnerships – funded by John Ellerman Foundation and William Syson Foundation; the Les Enfants Terribles and Greenwich Theatre Awards; Pick of VAULT award; and Pleasance Associates.
Anthony Alderson, director of the Pleasance Theatre Trust, comments At the Pleasance, it’s vital that we provide opportunities for artists who may not be able to present work without support. The various programmes provide in-kind and financial support as well as offering important partnerships, mentoring, development and dramaturgy. Through these schemes we are able to ensure we are working with outstanding new theatrical voices as well as improving the diversity of artists staging work. These 23 shows address important issues, merge style and present bold new ideas. I can’t wait to see them all.
Rapsody, recipient of the Charlie Hartill Theatre Reserve, will confront the realities of our modern-day class system through live rap, trap and drill. It is a raw look at inner-city life in Britain today. Supported by the Pleasance’s Generate Fund for UK-based Black, Asian and Global Majority Artists, Block’d Off is a hard-hitting one-woman play, based on real stories and real lives, exposing what it’s like to be working-class in London today. Made In India Britain is an insight into one man’s life, as he tries to work out exactly who he is; performed by Rinkoo Barpaga in British Sign Language, with live voiceover provided by an actor, this important production is also supported by the Generate Fund and Deaf Explorer.
Young Pleasance celebrate their 25th anniversary with The Trial, a heady re-imagining of Kafka’s absurdist masterpiece in their trademark large ensemble and physical visual style. Set during Josef K’s 21st birthday party, privacy has been abolished and Big Brother is always watching. Exploring the desire to forge your own identity, it is a story where pursuit, fear and surveillance haunt our dreams.
The Pleasance Comedy Reserve is back for its 16th year at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with another four brilliant new acts, hand-picked by the Pleasance and supported by the Charlie Hartill Special Reserve Fund. This year’s line-up features: Abi Clarke, Dee Allum, Katie Green and Tadiwa Mahlunge. This is your chance to discover the most exciting comedy newcomers before they become household names, from the show that helped launch the careers of Jack Whitehall, Roisin Conaty, Joe Lycett, Jamali Maddix, Darren Harriott, Sophie Duker, Nigel Ng and 57 others!
The National Partnerships see the Pleasance work with important venues nationwide to identify, recognise and fund extraordinary work from across the UK to be presented at the Festival. With Manchester’s HOME Closure, from Ink and Curtain, explores feminine rage, women’s rights and – more importantly – women’s wrongs. SHEWOLVES, in partnership with Leicester Curve, is an uplifting, funny and empowering play about forging friendships when you’re a bit weird, the power of hope and the underestimated smartness of teens. With York Theatre Royal, Potatohead follows a humble spud who dreams of becoming a stand-up comedian, blending surrealist comedy and traditional theatre for a highly entertaining and joyful performance.
Meanwhile, with Theatre Royal Plymouth, comes Breathless from Laura Horton, Plymouth Laureate of Words; this a funny, honest and stylish exploration of the knife-edge of hoarding taking us from the joy to the addiction and suffocating shame. Man Shed, in partnership with Eden Court, is inspired by the work of the Scottish Men’s Sheds Association, exploring the joy of sheds, the pain of loss and the comfort of friendship. Part of the Edinburgh National Partnerships Scheme with Bristol Old Vic, Opal Fruits is about class, nostalgia and five generations of women from one council estate in South London. With Pitlochry Festival Theatre, daring erotic thriller Svengali tells of ambition, desire and doing whatever it takes to achieve mastery.
No Place Like Home won this year’s main Les Enfants Terribles Award; it fuses spoken word, music, dance and video art, presenting a tragic journey into gay club culture and the places we can call home. The 2020 winner of the same award is at the Fringe this year too: Lecoq-trained Voloz Collective’s The Man Who Thought He Knew Too Much is a raucously funny and endlessly inventive Offies-nominated whodunnit. Winner of the 2022 Greenwich Theatre Award in association with Les Enfants Terribles, It’s a Motherf**king Pleasure is a show with integrated access all about making blindness sexy. Pick of VAULT Festival, Delicious Fruit brings together intimate interviews with queer people that explore kink, community and self-worth with humour and honesty.
Joining these shows are Pleasance Associate Companies and Artists. Through the Associates scheme the Pleasance supports artists with risk-taking new projects in Edinburgh and beyond, helping them to realise their wider ambitions. BOGEYMAN from Lagahoo Theatre is a ghost story that playfully combines music, movement and history in the ultimate underdog story of resistance against the oppressor. Katie Arnstein’s Sticky Door is a storytelling show with songs about sex, stigma and cystitis, by someone who has experienced all three – from the multi-award-winning team behind Sexy Lamp. Spies Like Us are back with Speed Dial, an explosively physical comedy-thriller about connection, forgiveness, and cryptic crosswords. Fritz & Matlock from Part of the Main is a new dark comedy with a fresh take on men’s mental health, the care system and addiction. Shortlisted for the 2020 LET Award, Bloody Mary: Live! is a smart, irreverent blend of stand-up and a one-woman show. Silent Faces present Godot is a Woman; since Waiting For Godot was written, non-men across the world have wanted to fill the boots of Didi and Gogo but, nearly 70 years later, the estate still says no. Pecho Mama return to the Fringe with Oedipus Electronica – this radical reinvention of the myth is an intoxicating whirlwind of ecstasy and devastation, with a searing live electronica score.
With more shows to be announced over the coming months, there will be comedy, theatre, circus, magic, dance, kids’ shows and much more. The Pleasance should certainly be the pick of your Fringe this August.