News: Ovalhouse announces 2019 summer season

With only two seasons left before Ovalhouse moves into its new home in Brixton, their 2019 summer season is packed full of extraordinary artists making bold new plays with three full length shows and four FiRST BiTES. For the first time, Ovalhouse has programmed an incredible showcase of six new plays by their Young Associate Artists in dynamic double-bills for ‘The Untold Season’.

The summer season sees the much-anticipated return of Urbain Wolf’s hard-hitting production of Custody – which explores the police’s treatment of young black men. Ovalhouse also brings back two of the most successful FiRST BiTES from 2018 as full-length productions: Bella Heesom’s celebration of female sexuality Rejoicing At Her Wondrous Vulva The Young Woman Applauded Herself and GREY, Koko Brown’s exploration of mental health.

Ovalhouse’s FiRST BiTE programme goes into overdrive this season with a coming of age comedy by Eve Leigh in Salty Irina; Azara Meghie’s Just Another Day and Night, which features live music and Rastafarian drumming to explore the struggle for identity and equality in the 21st century; The Performance Company’s dark, surrealist probe into loneliness with At Any One Time Other Than This and You Would Be My Friend; and Rough Cut, Little Soldier Productions’ work-in-progress show that promises to be more bonkers than Theresa May in a pig’s nose fighting the Dalai Lama.

With twice as many new artists, making twice as many new plays, The Untold Season brings together six artists over a three-week period to stage a range of challenging, and political work-in-progress plays that voice often silenced stories. At a crucial time when there is a universal zeitgeist for talking about mental health, gender and sexuality, underrepresented voices and regeneration, these six artists want to show a different perspective in how we often hear these stories. The Untold Season will be accompanied by a symposium to empower young creatives to make their own work and form new collectives of artists.

Owen Calvert-Lyons, Ovalhouse’s Head of Theatre & Artist Development, commented: “In recent weeks it has once again been highlighted that our industry continues to under-represent women writers. Our summer season features 10 plays by women (77% of the programme). In the mainhouse 66% of plays are written by women. This is not a ‘festival of women’s work’ or a ‘season of plays by women’ it is just another season of great new plays by brilliant writers.”

The full programme is as follows:
Ovalhouse and All About You present Rejoicing at Her Wondrous Vulva The Young Woman Applauded Herself
Thurs 9 – Sat 25 May

Written by Bella Heesom, this is an epic journey of self-discovery through the garden of sexuality. Featuring ideas planted during adolescence such as: ‘Only Boys Masturbate’, ‘You Are A Sex Object’, and ‘Female Genitals are Gross’, this is a story of self-love, encompassing shame, pride, fury and liberation. Revealed is the hidden battle between Brain and Clitoris; Appetite and Ego; shame-free sensuality and the desperate need to be ‘normal’, which everyone will recognise, regardless of gender.

This searingly honest play is directed by Donnacadh O’Briain, Olivier award-winner for Jon Brittain’s Rotterdam, and has movement direction by Liz Ranken, a founding member of DV8.

Ovalhouse and Faithdrama present Custody by Tom Wainwright and Urbain Wolf
Wed 5 – Sat 22 June 
When a young black man, Brian, dies in police custody, it sends shock waves across the community. Reeling from his death, Brian’s family struggle to make sense of their loss, whilst pursuing a lengthy court battle to find justice. Inspired by creator Urban Wolf’s own experiences with the police, this stark and timely new play explores how young black men are slipping through the cracks in society. How do you fight for justice in a system where nobody is on your side?

Ovalhouse and Lost Kids Collective present GREY by Koko Brown
Thurs 27 June – Sat 13 July 
Koko is a strong, independent, black woman. She has a roof over her head. She has food in her fridge. She lives a good life. She’s also a little bit sad, a lot of the time. She doesn’t understand why. Following her 5-star solo show, WHITE, Koko Brown brings you the second instalment of the Colour Trilogy, GREY. Directed by Nicholai La Barrie, and performed by Sapphire Joy and Koko Brown, this candid show explores depression and black women’s mental health. Blending spoken word and vocal looping, GREY is fully British Sign Language integrated and contains sensitive content.

Ovalhouse’s eclectic new FiRST BiTES are:
Ovalhouse and Broccoli present Salty Irina (Downstairs Theatre)
Thurs 2 – Sat 4 May
Anna and Eirini notice a series of racist murders in their neighbourhood. Unwilling to ignore the situation, they decide to infiltrate a far-right festival to identify the culprits. But when the nature of their relationship is uncovered, their safety is under threat. A coming of age story set against the rise of the far-right, Salty Irina is a new play by Eve Leigh (The Trick, a Hightide and Loose Tongue co-production).

Ovalhouse and Azara Meghie present Just Another Day and Night
Thurs 2 – Sat 4 May
Exploring the events in a day, and over the course of one night at a house party, Azara struggles to shrug off questions about race, gender and sexuality…to just dance! Using a canvas of sound which incorporates live drums, the show journeys in and out of a rhythmical dialogue between poetry, breakdance and theatrical movement. The riveting, bespoke and humorously infectious language Azara creates, allows her to tackle themes of isolation, ostracism, homophobia, racism and classism.

Ovalhouse and The Performance Company present At Any One Time Other Than This, You Would Be My Friend
Wed 30 May – Sat 1 June (Upstairs Theatre)
At Any One Time Other Than This, You Would Be My Friend is a dark, surrealist probe into loneliness. Six lonely people living in a highly populated city seek a friend to get them through life. But can this friend really be all things, meet all needs at a swipe or click of a button? This play explores friendships and how dispensable people can be, while also delving into our own humanity and place in the world and gets us to ask ourselves – are well all just selfish human beings?

Ovalhouse and Little Soldier Productions present Rough Cut
Thurs 4 – Sat 6 July (Upstairs Theatre)
VLADIMIR: Well? Shall we go?
ESTRAGON: Yes, let’s go.
They do not move.
With these words Beckett’s masterpiece Waiting for Godot ends and our play starts. Not that we can say them out loud, we are not allowed. Unless any of you has three hours to spare. Unless we had no desire to change a single comma. But then again, existentialism, right? Who’s got time for it these days… Besides two foreign women aren’t your obvious casting. You and I are neither Sir Patrick nor Sir Ian (possibly the furthest opposite you can get) and this isn’t the West End.

Ovalhouse’s six multi-disciplinary double bills in The Untold Season are as follows:
DOUBLE BILL 1: The Moment Before an Explosion by Sera Mustafa and Firecracker by Helena Morais
Thurs 6 – Sat 8 June
Three relationships, all irrevocably connected, on the verge of both flourishing and shattering. The Moment Before An Explosion explores the transition between the life and death of a relationship, and what happens in the moment you are separated from someone you love.

Firecracker follows the story of the murder of Bahian council woman Filomena Lopes whose goddaughter Anaíz Mendes is determined for revenge. While training in the refuge of a capoeira group she discovers the legacy of Queen Njinga and a new family. But does she really know who her enemy is?

DOUBLE BILL 2: Manny by Emmanuel Simon and The Lost Ones by Amina Koroma
Thurs 13 – Sat 15 June
Despite the ubiquity of social media, we still live in an anti-social society, how many times can you handle rejection alone before it starts to take its toll on you? Manny is about a young working-class man fighting a mental and physical battle for mainstream success in an unwelcoming, unfriendly town but certain enemies and a chain of events try to halt his progress, how will he react?

The Lost Ones is a story of two young women, stolen from home, who find themselves amongst the many who are crossing the middle passage during the transatlantic slave trade. It explores their lives under captivity, individual crises of faith and identity; and the relationship they build as a means of safety, camaraderie and a sense of home that they were uprooted from.

DOUBLE BILL 3: I AM by Saffia Kavaz & Red Pitch Tyrell Williams
Thurs 20 – Sat 22 June 
I decided in choice.  I decided in opportunity.  I decided in me. A love story. A coming out party. A conversation. Blending verbatim with spoken word, I AM explores mental health, sexuality and gender. How do LGBTQ+ bodies fit in to a world our minds also battle to exist in?

Red Pitch is a play exploring the imminent demolition of a beloved football pitch as part of an ongoing regeneration around a council estate. Three life-long friends Omz, Bilal and Joseph face all what they’ve known being aggressively taken away from them, not only in the form of their football pitch but importantly, their community and their friendship.

Ovalhouse’s Summer Season 2019 runs from Thursday 2nd May – Saturday 22nd June 2019

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