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Brief Encounter With ... Young Creative Forces Coming Up Later

By • Off-West End
Between 7 and 9 July 2011, the Coming Up festival takes place with six new, imaginative directors bringing their creativity to the Old Vic Tunnels.

Funded by IdeasTap and the Old Vic New Voices programme, creative networks designed to inspire and support emerging young artistic talent, the purpose of the project is to showcase the latest innovative pieces, in order to launch the careers of the next generation of artists.

The second installment consists of more diverse and fresh performance, including erotic artist Ophelia Bitz , Nicola Cross's Lonely Hearts Comedy Club,  beat boxing from Rea Mole, Suba Das’ pop reworking of Heine Muller’s Quartets, Natalie Ibu’s recreation of closing time at the pub and Jen Walke’s hula-hooping beach party.

Ahead of tonight's opening, we caught up with the team of the creative directors to find out more about themselves, their projects and their plans for the future...


Tell us about yourself.

Ophelia Bitz: I'm an award-winning erotic artist, singer and pornographer. I started out as a showgirl and have upgraded myself to academic pervert. The outfits remain much the same.

Suba Das: I'm Suba Das, and I'm a theatre director. I'm fairly gay, I'm probably quite rare in my ability to start a sentence talking about Samuel Beckett and end up with Britney. Like Cheryl Cole, I grew up on a council estate near Whitley Bay, and like Cheryl Cole I've not let being a slightly ropey singer stand in the way of success.

Nicola Cross: I am a director, creative producer and promoter. I'm really interested in the meeting point between theatre and comedy. The shows by my company, Anything Bloody Goes, are a theatrical way of presenting comedy.

Natalie Ibu: I'm a freelance theatre director, producer, dramaturg, script reader and workshop leader.  In 2010/11, I was the inaugural associate director (Warehouse) for HighTide Festival Productions.

Jen Walke: I'm 27 and live in London. I left Uni in 2003 with a Fine Art degree and have been working in the arts ever since for a range of festivals and arts organisations in the UK.

Rea Mole: I am an independent performance-maker and performer, specialising in work that harnesses the creative and expressive potential of the body – my practice is to place the body at the centre of the devising process and the live performance. My performance work aims to search for images and metaphors that communicate with the audience on a physical level, connecting with the memory and senses of our own individual bodies.


Tell us about your show.

Ophelia Bitz: ArtWank is a non-hysterical, sex-positive discussion about pornography with rare antique smut, weird performances and guest lectures from sex workers and artists.

Suba Das: I'm directing what I think is the UK premiere of a play called Quartet, by German writer called Heiner Muller. Quartet is a reworking of Dangerous Liaisons, and in Muller's version the two central characters rip each other to pieces over the course of 45 minutes. It's visceral, explicit, sexy, heartbreaking.

Nicola Cross: The Lonely Hearts Comedy Club is a fictional singles bar that has operated under Waterloo Station for the past 15 years. We have two hosts/owners of the bar whose mission it is to get the 200 people in the bar that night into 100 couples before the end of the night... This is not the sort of show you sit back and watch; the audience is the show

Natalie Ibu: It’s club night at the Old Vic Tunnels. Banging beats, heaving bodies and deranged dancing. Spirits are spilt, slurped and shotted. Mobile phones and friendships are lost, found and broken. The air is filled with expectation. Tonight is going to be one of those nights: one of those nights that could make your week, month, maybe even your year

Jen Walke: Rock a Hula is a big 1950s beach party with rock n roll, hula hooping and swing dancing. So, it's more of a party than a show... Live surf music from the Sundae Kups and vintage vinyl from DJ El Nino, 1950s makeovers from the uber glamorous Lipstick & Curls, a beginners' swing dancing lesson from Brace Yourself, a photo booth from BLAST Photo and hula hooping all night for everyone.

Rea Mole: Flocking/Crowd Joy is inspired by the unique endorphin-fuelled feeling you get when you are part of a group that is completely in synch and in its element. A burst of instant rapture kick-starts the piece, leading to the magical fusing together of 12 energized dancers, who then revel in images of synchronicity, passion and elation... We are really excited about getting into the tunnels and sharing our Crowd Joy with the audience – we hope the audience will be as energised, adventurous and loved-up as for having experienced the performance, getting them in the mood to enjoy the rest of the Coming Up Later night.


How do you feel about Coming Up Later?

Ophelia Bitz: I'm very proud to be taking part and I think that the more young creative directors that get opportunities to stretch their ideas the better. The team have been absolutely wonderful to work with, particularly Sara Doctors and Shaka Bunsie.

Suba Das: It's an amazingly rare opportunity for young artists to actually be supported to try out experimental ideas...it's an unfortunate reality that even the tiniest, most out of the way venues seem to throw astronomical hire charges at young artists...It's brilliant to find an initiative that turns that totally on its head.

Nicola Cross: It is four hours of fantastic entertainment each night in a really cool venue, it's completely free and you get a free drink thrown in. What's not to love? From a personal point of view, the best thing about the festival is that it encourages so many different types of work from a variety of different practitioners.

Natalie Ibu: Coming Up Later  is a dream.  It’s an opportunity to indulge your biggest, boldest most ambitious ideas; where else could I produce over 50 short scenes written by 39 of the most exciting writers with a cast of 30 sterling actors?  As a producing exercise, it’s fast and furious and as a Director, an opportunity to be visionary.  As a Director who’s also Producing?  Epic. Beyond epic.

Jen Walke: It's a fantastic opportunity and I'm very excited to be providing the finale event for all these fantastic creative directors and their audiences who've come to the weekender to let their hair down.

Rea Mole: I am thrilled to be one of the Creative Directors for Coming Up Later, it’s really inspiring to be part of such an exciting and bold group of emerging practitioners and I hope we can connect with each other beyond the process. It’s also great to be able to tap into the network of other artists involved – the Creative Directors and their collaborators.


What excites you most about the theatre scene right now?

Ophelia Bitz: I like how much crossover is happening. Collaboration is key to making work that means something, and now that established venues like the Old Vic are valuing risk-taking more and more I am very interested to see what happens next!

Suba Das: It's getting pretty cliched to say, but site-specific work. Just anything that gets people out of their seats. If I want to sit in a comfy chair and watch people in a neat frame, I'll go to the cinema. Although I can't wait to see Duckie's Lullaby at the Barbican, which should be pretty comfy seeing as it's all about going to sleep!

Nicola Cross: There's a real movement in the theatre scene away from writer-led work. Let's throw off the legacy of Shakespeare and accept that entertainment can be indefinable, inter-disciplinary, site-response and fiercely original.

Jen Walke: I work for Pacitti Company and we run the SPILL Festival of Performance. I find that incredibly exciting.

Rea Mole: What excites me about the theatre scene at the moment is the sense that there is a more recognition about the need for emerging artists to have targeted support, so that they can establish and develop their profile, audience base, practice, networks and, most importantly, to take risks. I am also excited by the growing understanding amongst producers in the theatre and performance sector that, if artists are going to develop their voices and contribute to the art form’s future, then they have to be given the support and space to try out ideas


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