The first of the new commissions, Thomas Hescott's The Act, examines the changing gay underground in the 1960s, following the Church of England’s support for decriminalization of homosexuality. It runs from 31 January to 2 February (previews from 29 January).
The second show in the season is Crimplene Millionaire (5-9 February) from Boogaloo Stu, where the audience is invited to play the Crimplene Millionaire board game, setting the thriving artistic movements of the 1970s against the backdrop of political upheaval.
Next up, The Lady’s Not For Walking Like An Egyptian (12-16 February) by Mars.tarrab, examines feminism and power in the 1980s by setting words from Margaret Thatcher’s speeches to every top ten hit by a female pop artist.
The next show in the season is Love on Trial by Bilimankhwe Arts, which considers changing attitudes to homosexuality in the 1990s by contrasting illegal homosexuality in Malawi with George Michael’s 1998 arrest for “lewd conduct” in a public toilet. It runs from 19-23 February 2013.
The final show in the season is Kinky (26 February to 2 March) from 2HeadedPigeon, a show which examines the state of underground fetish culture in the UK today, and asks if politics is intervening too much in our right to a private life, no matter how extreme.
Ovalhouse opened as a theatre in 1963 and offered a platform to
companies like The People Show, Lumière and Sons, Welfare State, Bread
and Puppet Theatre, Hesitate and Demonstrate, Forkbeard Fantasy and the
Pip Simmons Group.
It also hosted artists, performers and writers including Athol Fugard, David Hare, Salman Rushdie, Steven Berkoff, Tim Roth, Pierce Brosnan and Mike Westbrook. Ovalhouse supported the experimental theatre companies of the '60s and '70s, the emergence of gay, lesbian and women's theatre in the ‘70s and ‘80s and the development of new Black and Asian writing in the '90s and into the next millennium.
The 50th anniversary season will be accompanied by a performance of Your Place or Mine? Ovalhouse’s co-directors of theatre Rebecca Atkinson Lord and Rachel Briscoe said: “We wanted a season which would reconnect with the bravery and experimentation that characterise Ovalhouse’s history. The last 50 years have seen enormous shifts in dominant culture – and in how Ovalhouse has worked to ensure that an alternative diversity of artists would be seen and clearly heard on our stages. We also want to celebrate a new strand of our work with a series of specially commissioned new pieces which we hope will shine a light on the theatre of the future, while taking inspiration from the past.”