A bespoke one-off experiential festival takes place in the heart of London next month to attract new audiences in a post-Covid environment with an indoor & outdoor mix of short events followed by equal intervals of fresh air.
Box office opens today with 30 actors, writers and musicians leading a reimagining of T S Eliot’s five part epic poem The Waste Land in the world’s largest celebration of the poem in the geography of its setting.
Star artists led by Tamsin Greig, Toby Jones, Jeanette Winterson, Gavin Bryars, Jenna Russell, Liam Ó’Maonlaí (Hothouse Flowers), Sam Lee, Erland Cooper and the 2022 T S Eliot Prize winner Joelle Taylor head up a cross disciplinary line-up of classical, folk & world music, fado & flamenco, talks & readings and free sound, video and film installations performed in 22 City of London mediaeval churches.
Commissioned by the T S Eliot Estate, the arts imagineers DoranBrowne (former curators of the 50th anniversary Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper in Liverpool in 2017 and the highly acclaimed annual Happy Days Samuel Beckett Festival in Ireland) have devised a new festival model in search for new audiences of the post Covid era – short espresso hit 15 minute f r a g m e n t performances across a square mile of 22 churches (15 by Sir Christopher Wren).
Audiences will balance a rotation of 15-minute performances followed by 15 or less minutes walking through the streets of old London encountering hidden and extraordinary beautiful church interiors. Cultural offerings in the church acoustics range from Indian Raga to Ragtime, the Syrian Qunan to Kaustinen folk, Sufi to spirituals music and western classical and baroque music to contemporary minimalism & hip-hop.
Audiences can book one of five walking route options in any of the 5 x 3 hour f r a g m e n t slots getting the opportunity to watch and listen up to 7 short 15 minute event bursts. The more adventurous ticket buyer can deviate from the routes and create their own order of events in an unique ‘shuffle festival’ style.
The festival opens on April 7th with the writer Jeanette Winterson giving a secular sermon in Southwark Cathedral at 7pm followed by the Hothouse Flowers supremo Liam Ó’Maonlaí with the Opening Concert in St. Mary Woolnoth church, known as the Amazing Grace church. The festival centrepiece, a world premiere 40 minute electro-acoustic music composition by French composer Pierre-Yves Macé opens in the Bow Bells church, St. Mary-Le-Bow, on April 8th. This is followed by 5 x 3 hour f r a g m e n t s sessions: April 8th 7-10pm; April 9th 10.30-1.30pm & 3.30pm-6.30pm and April 10th 10.30am-1.30pm & 4.30pm-7.30pm. The final event will be at Wilton’s Music Hall. Exploring the deep and surprising relationship between Marie Lloyd, T. S. Eliot’s poetry Marie, Marie, Hold on Tight! is a sort-of-musical that marks the centenary of Marie Lloyd’s death and The Waste Land’s birth. It tells the very funny and moving story of the unlikely relationship between the work of two unhappy people and great artists. Starring Jenna Russell, Luke Thallon & Tom Hanson. Tickets available at www.wiltons.org.uk
A single 3 hour slot event ticket costs £20 (£15 concession) with Day tickets £35 on Saturday and Sunday April 9 & 10. Full programme information and tickets are available from www.thewasteland2022.com