RADA Festival Preview

Last Updated on 27th June 2019

From 28h June to 8th July, Graduates and collaborators from across the international theatre community come together for the annual RADA Festival in a programme that challenges, provokes and entertains.

RADA Festival 2019
Photo: Sarah Hickson

Highlights of the Rada Festival 2019 include:

International theatre company HUNCHtheatre present To See Salisbury, a new dark comedy based on the infamous events surrounding the 2018 Novichok poisoning. With nods to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the show offers a rare insight into current Russian politics. To See Salisbury is 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.

New writing from final year students and graduates from across the years combine with adaptations and revivals, including Caryl Churchill’s Escaped Alone and work inspired by lesser-known E.M. Forster short stories. Here, writer and director Simon Dormandy adapts three lesser-known short stories by E.M. Forster, unpublished during his lifetime because of their explicit examination of race and sexuality.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.

A newly-launched Five Plays in Five Days play reading programme gives the opportunity tosee brand new works in development from a broad range of voices, with a Pay What YouCan scheme starting at £2:

Following his first full-length play Combustion at the 2017 Festival, graduate Asif Khan returns with a first public reading of his new comedy Jamil’s Legendary Stag Night, 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’ White and 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.

When Swallows Cry is an exciting award-winning play commissioned by the Ibsen International and written by one of South Africa’s most celebrated contemporary playwrights, Mike Van Graan, and directed by leading South African theatre director, Greg Homann. This socially-engaging and hard-hitting play tackles the real complexities of migration. The cast of three actors perform in a powerful trilogy of playlets that cleverly interweave to tell the stories of a Canadian in Africa, a Somalian in America, and a pair of Zimbabweans in Australia.

Festival producer Jo Wiltshire added: “The quality of work being submitted to the Festival each year is incredible, and it’s thrilling to be on the receiving end of such fresh and responsive work. The programme this year has a rich maturity and tenacity to it, all well worth a watch! It is always utterly inspiring to watch graduates explore new creative journeys, driven by a desire to react to the world we live in.” Joanne Cayford, BBC producer, said: “The RADA Festival is one of the most inspiring and energising fortnights in the creative calendar: original writing and performances, new voices and emerging talent curated by Jo Wiltshire. Work that I was lucky enough to see last year has stayed with me – productions that continue to thrive and resonate with audiences outside the London bubble”.

I saw some of the Festival last year, and it offers tremendous value for money in the heart of London and a chance to catch not just the stars of the future, but new artists emerging fully into the theatrical world!



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