Top 10 shows to see at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival

As the annual festival prepares to get underway, artistic director William Galinsky gives us ten shows not to be missed this year

Lena Horne
Stormy: The Life of Lena Horne
© McVirn Etienne

1. Stormy: The Life of Lena Horne

Norwich Playhouse, 17 May

This premiere is all about celebrating the dancer, singer and activist Lena Horne in her centenary year. Horne worked to break down racial boundaries from the '40s onwards and change the way Hollywood presented black women. Of her on her death in 2010, Barack Obama said she "worked tirelessly to further the cause of justice and equality". This production by Camilla Beeput under the creative direction of Clarke Peters brings her to life alongside a five-piece band.

Summer. Autumn. Winter. Spring.
Summer. Autumn. Winter. Spring.

2. Summer. Autumn. Winter. Spring.

The Space, Norwich, 13 and 14 May

Internationally renowned theatre company Quarantine brings three live performances and a film, each focussing on an important moment in the human life span. Summer. sees people responding to the current day, Autumn. is a two hour interval in history, Winter. addresses death, whilst Spring. meets pregnant women as they begin to imagine lives as yet unlived. Epic in scale, ambition and subject, Summer. Autumn. Winter. Spring. brings a unique look at the cycle of human life and our ever changing relationship with time.


3. Driftwood

Adnams Spiegeltent, 17 to 27 May (not 18 and 23)

Our Adnams Spiegeltent programme proves to be one of the most popular picks of the festival, and this year’s circus headline are one to watch out for. Casus Circus are one of the leaders in contemporary circus in the UK, they are a troop of acrobats from Australia and they bring Driftwood. The perfect show to catch after a drink and a slice of pizza from outside the Adnams Spiegeltent.

Super Sunday
Super Sunday
© Petter Hellman

4. Super Sunday

Norwich Theatre Royal, 15 and 16 May

After the success of the stunning White Nights in 2016, Finnish circus ensemble favourites Race Horse Company are back with their new show Super Sunday. Full of their trademark wit wackiness and stunning spectacle, a night spent with them is always one to remember.

Luke Wright
Luke Wright
© Photo by Idil Sukan/Draw HQ

5. Frankie Vah

Norwich Playhouse, 26 and 27 May

Festival favourite Luke Wright will bring a world premiere of his second verse play, Frankie Vah. Frankie Vah is set against a backdrop of indie venues and '80s politics. It follows the sell-out success of What I Learned from Johnny Bevan which won a Fringe First, The Stage Award and The Saboteur Award for spoken word. There’s a strong relationship between politics and poetry at the moment and this is one not to miss.

The Voice of Sleep
The Voice of Sleep

6. The Arms of Sleep by The Voice Project

The Assembly House, 22 to 26 May

This one of the most exciting pieces at the festival this year. It will give 40 audience members a bed and invite them to spend the night at Grade I listed Assembly House, a beautiful old Georgian house in Norwich, for a brand new specially written ten-hour choral piece. I’d happily spend a night here. Assembly House, designed by Thomas Ivory in 1754, is viewed by historians as one of the most important buildings in Norwich so it’s fitting that local composers and animateurs Sian Croose and Jonathan Baker have decided to set their piece there.

We Meet in Paradise
We Meet in Paradise

7. We Meet in Paradise

The Forum, 17 and 18 May

Watch out for We Meet In Paradise from Berlin-based TheatreFragile, a topical masque piece exploring the complex issues around exile and asylum. Created by gathering stories from refugees and support workers, this outdoor installation invites audience members to become active participants. Come and have your curiosity piqued.

The Way You Look (At Me) Tonight
The Way You Look (At Me) Tonight
© Sven Hagolani

8. The Way You Look (At Me) Tonight

Norwich Playhouse, 23 and 24 May

Leading disabled artist Clare Cunningham teams up with internationally acclaimed choreographer and performer Jess Curtis in The Way You Look (At Me) Tonight. Live dance, song, stories and questions are combined with original music and video in this physical exploration of how we perceive ourselves, each other and the world around us. Created In collaboration with noted author and philosopher of perception Dr Alva Noë.

Chotto Desh

9. Chotto Desh

Norwich Theatre Royal, 18 May

World-leading choreographer Akram Khan's 2011 smash-hit Desh is brilliantly adapted by director Sue Buckmaster of Theatre-Rites for audiences as young as seven years old to enjoy in Chotto Desh. Dance, interactive animation and original music are weaved together to tell the tale of a boy who dreams of becoming a dancer, and of a mythical child who angers the forest gods by collecting their forbidden honey. Cross-cultural story telling for young and old at its very best.

Rear View
Rear View

10. Rear View

The Great Hospital, 25 to 28 May

All-aboard IOU's custom-made bus for the world premiere of Rear View, a moving adventure about a women's life led by celebrated performance Cecilia Knapp and Jemima Foxtrot. What better way to see the city as Norwich's streets become the stage on for an unforgettable journey. Don't forget to buy a ticket.

Norfolk and Norwich Festival runs at various venues across the region from 12 to 28 May.

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