Prim picnickers take cover, as the Arcola welcomes back Grimeborn, its annual festival of opera and music theatre, for a third year of alternative arias and boundary-breaking experiences that ENO could only dream of. Founded in 2007, the festival specialises in new and experimental work by young composers, writers and directors as well as rarely performed older pieces. This year’s line-up promises an intoxicating mix of “love, sex, death, football, gods, clowns, faeries and drag queens”, as 26 companies rip apart classics, showcase new work and rearrange modern music to get to the nub of what opera can be.
a Clean Break
Once upon a time, two female prisoners founded a theatre group. Three decades later, Clean Break is nationally acclaimed for its new writing and education programmes. And to celebrate its 30 anniversary, the company will be presenting a duo of exciting female voices at two of London’s finest venues. Lucy Kirkwood’s it felt empty when the heart went at first but it is alright debuts at the Arcola from 6-31 Oct, before Chloë Moss’s This Wide Night returns to the Soho Theatre from 24 Nov-5 Dec. Further anniversary plans include a major collaboration with Frantic Assembly.
Greed at the White Bear
Transposing classic dramas to contemporary settings doesn’t always work, but if any play seems relevant to the current maelstrom, it is John Ford’s ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore. Baseless Fabric Theatre Company’s decision to update this Renaissance tragedy of madness, greed and lust to the urban noughties just seems to make sense. See Annabella and Giovanni’s doomed incest play out at the White Bear Theatre in Kennington from 21 Jul-9 Aug, directed by emerging talent Joanna Taylor, whose Tempest and Measure for Measure so impressed at Bridewell.
It’s A (Blessed) Family Affair
National treasure and I’m A Celebrity alumnus Brian Blessed will be giving a rehearsed reading of Stephen Hunt’s new play, Permission Painted, at the Tristram Bates Theatre on 6 September. What’s more, he will be joined by wife Hildegard Neil, daughter Rosalind Blessed and Rosalind’s husband Mark Hayden in what will be the first time the entire Blessed acting clan have performed together. Hunt is a long time collaborator with Hildegard Neil and their current production, Impossible Steps is half way through a ten-date theatre tour around the M25 circle. London Orbital indeed.
Something a little more incisive for the weekend. New company Occurrent Glow will be taking over Southwark’s Old Operating Theatre for the next three days and putting its table to good use in the site-specific piece, Incisions and Excavations. The patient? Poetry, as a collection of contemporary writing by Peter Ebsworth, Niall O'Sullivan, Liz Dean, Bryan Baker and Sara Nesbitt is subjected to the stethoscope to see if it contains some new theatrical forms. Occurent Glow was established to explore the possibility of poetry in play, and this event (performances Fri 7pm, Sat 5pm, Sun 2pm/5pm) is part of the ongoing London Bridge Festival.