The RADA Festival returns to central London this summer, with a programme of work that celebrates collaboration and co-creation in our divided world.
Students and graduates from the world-leading drama school are working with practitioners from across the industry and across the globe, with performers and partnerships from the USA, Russia, South Africa, India, Australia and Canada. Involving graduates from the 1970s up to the present day, from both acting and theatre production courses, it is a celebration of the vibrancy and variety of work from all corners of the Academy and the collaborations that are forged beyond.
This year the GBS Theatre will host the full premiere production of To See Salisbury, a darkly funny exploration of the 2018 Novichok poisoning. With nods to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the show offers a rare insight into current Russian politics. To See Salisburyis written by Russian satirist and broadcaster Victor Shenderovich and adapted by RADA graduate Oliver Bennett, co-founder of HUNCHtheatre, whose aim is to unite British and Continental aesthetics in cultural exchange.
Alongside this, writer and director Simon Dormandy adapts three lesser-known short stories by E.M. Forster, unpublished during his lifetime because of their explicit examination of race and sexuality. The Point of It reframes the stories in light of contemporary gay and intersectional experiences, in a narrative traversing the globe across a hundred years. This beautifully scripted ensemble piece, which welcomes the return of RADA graduate Tanmay Dhanania, sees convention and desire tragically collide in a complex world of lust and pain.
Completing the GBS Theatre programme is new play After the Peace by award-winning playwright Clare Bayley. This RADA co-production explores a relationship spawned out of a fractured Britain in a not too distant dystopian future, in the aftermath of a civil war that holds an uneasy peace.
New for 2019 is a programme of rehearsed readings offering a look at brand new works in development from a wide range of voices.
Following his first full-length play Combustion at the 2017 Festival, graduate Asif Khan returns with a first public reading of his new comedy Stags & Gravediggers, commissioned by RIFCO and Watford Palace Theatre.
Funlola Olufunwa’s triptych on race relations A Cord of Three Strands responds to the death of activist Sandra Bland in 2015. In What’s Wrong Ameri-K-K-Ka, Black ‘n’ Whiteand Afrika, she gives voice to essential awareness of societal and institutional racism.
Elliot Cowan directs Lina Patel’s Sankalpan, exploring family and politics in pre-partition India through the lens of Chekhov’s Three Sisters.
Lotte Rice’s Dipped is a direct response to the local impact of knife crime and youth violence through a universal female voice played by a powerful ensemble chorus. Dipped is a direct response to the local impact of knife and serious youth violence – how do you smash through the glass ceiling without getting cut?
Finally, verbatim company Ecoute Theatre, founded by recent graduate Zoe Templemen-Young, present a reading of Connie Templeman’s Risk Assessment, highlighting the potential moral and ethical consequences of a corporate shift in higher education.
In RADA’s Gielgud Theatre, established texts sit alongside new writing, and physical theatre joins comedy and cabaret for a vivid and eclectic programme.
The vision of our world in crisis is explored by Jess Moore in Seed Bank, where catastrophic climate change threatens the earth’s natural resources and prompts questions around our desire to pro-create; and in Ockerby by screen writer Debbie Oates, where the search for immortality at the cutting edge of science is brought to life in a new technically ambitious production, directed and produced by current theatre production student Jake Steele.
Following last year’s five-star production of Lucid, New Public return with their inimitable brand of bold physical theatre in their latest work Transformations, combining elements of text, circus and ritualistic narrative immersed in surround sound. The company will also be leading a special one-off workshop, offering the chance to investigate physical transformation techniques, ensemble and partnering work with this experimental company.
Also on offer is an inspiring programme of ‘herstory’ tales, presented by a variety of all-female cabaret groups. Polly Clamorous, fresh from five-star reviews at the Brighton Fringe, and Constellations Theatre Company both present the stories of history’s most powerful, misunderstood (and forgotten) women.
As the programme launched today, Director of RADA Edward Kemp commented: “The RADA Festival has become a cornerstone of our year and a focal point for creative thinking and storytelling across the RADA community. Each year I’m thrilled to see the work created by our graduates, students, teachers and a whole host of other collaborators that come through the doors – and it’s fantastic to see how these artists are grappling with the challenges we’re all facing in today’s political climate with some really dynamic and provocative work.”
The RADA Festival 2019 runs from Wednesday 26 June – Saturday 6 July at RADA, central London. Tickets start at £6, with a Pay What You Can scheme for Five Plays in Five Days, starting at £2. Tickets can be purchased at rada.ac.uk/festival or +44 (0)20 7908 4800.