Theatre News

LIFT 2020 festival to include Travis Alabanza, Inua Ellams and Ruth Wilson

The biennial festival of international theatre comes to well-known venues, hidden gems and Tudor mansions across London this summer

Nat Randall and Anna Breckon's The Second Woman
Nat Randall and Anna Breckon's The Second Woman
© Heidrun Lohr

LIFT Festival has announced its 2020 programme, with eight premieres featuring Ruth Wilson, Inua Ellams and Travis Alabanza.

London's leading biennial festival of international theatre will run from 2 June to 11 July and is the first under new artistic director and CEO Kris Nelson and new executive director Stella Kanu. Nelson was previously festival director of Dublin Fringe Festival and Kanu was executive producer of Ovalhouse.

As previously announced, on 19 June Ruth Wilson will perform 24-hour-long show The Second Woman, which sees her repeat the same scene over and over with 100 men from the surrounding area. The UK premiere will run at the Young Vic – first seen in Australia, it is co-created by Nat Randall and Anna Breckon.

Poet and playwright Inua Ellams will present the world premiere of Alcohol, City Lights and Slow Songs at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre on 6 June. Directed by Stella Odunlami, the show is based on some of the lyrics to "The Ride" – taken from Drake's album Take Care – and was developed through a workshop with 15 young people from Tottenham. It tells the story of five strangers who meet late at night, set up a picnic in the middle of the road and try to piece together the last 24 hours of their lives.

Travis Alabanza will host a world premiere night of music, live art and cabaret artists and DJs in a historic Tudor mansion on 13 June, curated by Malik Nashad Sharpe. The Night Shift will take place in Master Shipwrights House, situated on the Thames in Deptford, and feature black British and international artists.

Tina Satter/ Half Straddle will present the UK premiere of Is This A Room?, a verbatim theatre piece about a 25 year-old Air Force linguist who was taken from her home by the FBI to be interrogated and charged with leaking evidence regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election. The show follows the transcripts of the interrogation to chart the treatment of the linguist, Reality Winner, and runs at Shoreditch Town Hall from 2 to 13 June.

From 8 to 11 June, director and choreographer Ben Duke of Lost Dog and Candoco Dance Company will collaborate on The Argonauts, a new dance theatre piece making its world premiere at the Southbank Centre. Featuring a cast of disabled and non-disabled performers from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine and the UK, the show re-tells the Greek myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece.

At the Barbican Centre on 16, 17, 19 and 20 June, French artist Phia Ménard and Compagnie Non Nova will perform the UK premiere of Immoral Tales Part 1 – Mother House. Following punk warrior Athena as she tries to build the Parthenon out of cardboard, the piece is a reaction to the Greek financial crisis and the turbulence of European politics.

Imwen Eke will write and direct the UpLIFTers in the world premiere of Balthazar's Treasure: The Cacao Quest on 27 June at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre. The show will invite audiences to explore Tottenham in an interactive, digital treasure hunt that charts the journey of Balthazar Sanchez, a Spanish Moor and confectioner to Philip II of Spain who first brought chocolate to the UK in the 1600s and settled in Tottenham.

Sonia Hughes will bring her interactive outdoor installation I Am From Reykjavik to different locations across London from 17 to 21 June. The show explores the limits of hospitality and identity in the present day – Hughes will build a temporary dwelling and invite passers-by to take part, watch or take tea with her as part of the performance.

Kenya's The Nest Collective will create a series of documentaries profiling feminist, queer and migration activists in London and Cape Town, presented on 20 June. The Feminine and the Foreign will screen as a series of short films and bring LIFT and ArtNight – London's all-night contemporary art festival – together for the first time.

Bristol-based Still House, north London's Empire Sounds and Tottenham-based Steppaz Performing Arts Academy will present Session at Battersea Arts Centre's Grand Hall from 30 June to 11 July. This LIFT Tottenham commission will return after a UK tour – part dance party, part gig and part social, the show will be led by an ensemble of young dancers who move across hip hop, contemporary folk and Afrobeats genres to celebrate community, youth and belonging.