Following the success of his first season at The Bunker, Artistic Director Chris Sonnex’s new season cements his vision for the theatre, representing and sharing the stories of its community. With a new festival with work from Black artists, a new work from Anna Jordan, debut plays from emerging writers and the return of the sold-out My White Best Friend (and Other Letters Left Unsaid), The Bunker is the place for ambitious creatives to share their work with adventurous audiences.
The Autumn season will open with This is Black, a curated festival from Steven Kavuma, founder of Diversity School Initiative. Creating a supportive fringe space for Black creatives to produce new work, it will explore identity, hate crime and family relationships with alternate double bills of All the Shit I Can’t Say to My Dad by Abraham Adeyemi and Blue Beneath My Skin by Macadie Amoroso with …cake by babirye bukilwa and The Sun, The Moon, and the Stars by Dipo Baruwa-Etti, along with an accompanying exhibition by Sophia Tassew, who created the recent plus-size mannequins for Nike.
In September, Jade City by Alice Malseed will examine masculinity, vulnerability and friendship through the rich language of Belfast. Presented in association with The Royal Court, Anna Jordan’s We Anchor in Hope will be directed by Chris Sonnex in his inaugural production for The Bunker. Transforming the theatre into a pub, it will interrogate the impact on the community when the local closes.
Based on the writer’s own experiences, Germ Free Adolescent by Natalie Mitchell (NT Connections) is an OCD love story for anyone who’s ever worried that they’re not normal. Debut plays, i will still be whole (when you rip me in half) by Ava Wong Davies and Before I was a Bear by Eleanor Tindall will share the space in November. Davies’ lyrical piece explores the relationship between women in a family as Tindall’s considers sexuality, friendship, celebrity and shame.
The critically-acclaimed My White Best Friend and Other Letters Left Unsaid… from Rachel De-Lahay and Milli Bhatia returns to The Bunker for the Autumn Season. Empowering even more writers to challenge and redress where we place ourselves in our society, newly commissioned letters will be performed sight unseen each night.
Following the success of Funeral Flowers in Spring, Harts Theatre Company have joined Pint-Sized and Damsel Productions as Resident Companies, while Ann Akin and Anoushka Warden join Debbie Hannan on The Bunker’s team of Artistic Associates. Akin will produce Matilda Ibini’s new play Little Miss Burden, directed by Hannan, bringing together 90s nostalgia and Nigerian culture to tell the truth about growing up with a physical impairment.
On top of this, The Bunker have introduced a programme of B-Sides to ensure emerging artists have a place to thrive. Including new work from Annie Jenkins and Liv Wynter, this curated run of Sunday and Monday nights will fill the stage with cult hits, experimental work and future classics, reinforced by the return of Pint-Sized’s week-long festival.
Artistic Director Chris Sonnex commented: “Theatre is a village. When we wait in the foyer, when we watch a performance, when we talk about the show over a drink, we reinforce our togetherness, our shared language. We watch in unison as a congress of actors, writers, directors, designers tell us stories to unite and challenge us. The individual creates the community, the community empowers the individual. In The Bunker’s new season, we are lucky to welcome incredible artists with plays that explore this link: between individual and community. We’re delighted to be continuing our partnership with Black Ticket Project, giving away more than 250 tickets across the season. We are ensuring that the artists in our community have a place to experiment in our B-Side season. The Bunker is proud to work with so many talented artists that represent our society. I believe they will be mainstays in our theatre village for years to come.”
The Bunker’s Autumn Season 2019 includes:
This is Black (The Bunker)
Curated by Steven Kavuma
Monday 5 – Sunday 25 August 2019, DJ until late on Friday and Saturday nights
This festival of world premiere theatre shows by four new and exciting Black writers will be accompanied by a visual art exhibition curated by Sophia Tassew. The festival aims to support, encourage and celebrate Black artists, and to create a supportive fringe festival experience that existing platforms do not always successfully provide.
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 7.30pm
Double Bill – All the Shit I Can’t Say to My Dad and Blue Beneath My Skin
All the Shit I Can’t Say to My Dad by Abraham Adeyemi (Abi Rufai)
AK’s back at his mum’s to write his debut album and decides it’s time to be honest, even if the truth hurts. He finally says twenty-seven years of things left unsaid but is it too late?
Blue Beneath my Skin by Macadie Amoroso (Sculptress Theatre Company)
Centring on the life of a 17-year-old mixed-race girl, Blue Beneath My Skin explores the nuances of identity, culture and ethnicity, and how self-perceptions and the perceptions put upon us by others can push us onto a destructive path.
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 7.30pm
Double Bill – …cake and The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars
…cake by babirye bukilwa (Tolu Agbelusi)
…cake delves into a dysfunctional mother daughter relationship where love, duty and violence compete in equal measure. A prequel to her play hour (Talawa Firsts 2017), …cake explores the nature versus nurture debate and asks what makes us ‘us’.
The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars by Dipo Baruwa-Etti (Liz Daramola)
After being visited by her brother’s ghost and guided through the past, a grieving woman sets out to prove that her brother’s death was the result of a hate crime.
Jade City (ViewFromHere and The Bunker)
Written by Alice Malseed, directed by Katherine Nesbit
Tuesday 3 – Saturday 21 September 2019
Sas and Monty are trapped in this place, and in their heads. From the working men’s to Monty’s empty flat, their only escape comes from playing The Game; where they can be bin men hiding stolen cash under the mattress; seagulls snatching dogs on the high street; or just themselves, free at last, knocking back breakfast cocktails on a sunny beach. But Sas doesn’t want to play anymore. He wants to talk. About girls, his head and that summer they can’t forget. Rich in the language of Belfast, and with an original electronic score, Jade City is a lyrical and powerful exploration of growing up and growing apart, about the choices we make and the only choices we have.
We Anchor in Hope (The Bunker and W14 Productions in association with the Royal Court)
Written by Anna Jordan, directed by Chris Sonnex
Wednesday 25 September – 19 October 2019
All over London public houses become private flats. Tomorrow, The Anchor closes for good. It’s the end of an era, but Kenny and the gang are going out with a bang. There’s a blow-up sheep, karaoke and a lot of Campari. There’s secrets and grudges and forgotten dreams. As the front doors are locked and the bar is drunk dry, there’s a lot more to lose than just a pub.
Germ Free Adolescent (The Bunker)
Written by Natalie Mitchell, directed by Grace Gummer
Tuesday 29 October – Saturday 9 November 2019
Ashley is 16. She’s lived in Medway for 15 years and 6 months. She has 2,354 leaflets on sexual health. She knows exactly how many she has, because she’s counted them 1,582 times… Germ Free Adolescent is an OCD love story that asks: what exactly is ‘normal’ anyway? Written by Natalie Mitchell, the fierce and funny, serious and irreverent play draws on her own mental health experiences, and the painful yet often funny stories she collected from across Medway in Kent.
i will still be whole (when you rip me in half) (Emily Davis and The Bunker)
Written by Ava Wong Davies, directed by Helen Morley
Tuesday 12th – Saturday 23rd November 2019
In 1996 a young mother walks out of a small house in Shepherd’s Bush and doesn’t look back. In 2019 a daughter lies in a bath and stares at a crack in the ceiling. i will still be whole (when you rip me in half) is a poetic interlinking of monologues devoted to blood ties and what we inherit from our parents.
Before I was a Bear (The Bunker)
Written by Eleanor Tindall, directed by Aneesha Srinivasan
Tuesday 12 – Saturday 23 November 2019
On a rainy Wednesday evening, Cally sits at her local pub waiting for her best friend. She notices someone in the corner. She recognises them. It can’t be them though, can it? It isn’t. This doesn’t happen. She won’t go over. She won’t. Before I Was A Bear is a powerful new play about sexuality, friendship and hot TV detectives.
My White Best Friend and Other Letters Left Unsaid… (The Bunker)
Written and co-curated by Rachel De-Lahay, directed and co-curated by Milli Bhatia
Monday 25 – Saturday 30 November 2019, 8pm and DJ until late
Could you put your white best friend on stage and remind them that they’re part of the problem? Rachel De-Lahay’s monologue My White Best Friend directed by Milli Bhatia returns to The Bunker alongside new letters that say the unsaid to the people that matter most from a new crop of writers selected by curators Bhatia and De-Lahay. Every night new letters will be given to performers to read for the first time onstage.
Little Miss Burden (Harts Theatre Company and The Bunker)
Written by Matilda Ibini, directed by Debbie Hannan
Tuesday 3 – Saturday 21 December 2019
They are the coolest, fiercest, most super talentedest girl band ever assembled: Big Sis and Little Sis are waiting for the third member of their trio to arrive. Little Miss is on her way. It just takes her a little bit longer. At thirteen, Little Miss is given a gift which cannot be returned. It’s a part of her. And she needs to find a way for the two of them to get along as they can’t both be Player One. Matilda Ibini’s coming-of-age tale smashes together 90s nostalgia, Nigerian family, East London and Sailor Moon to tell the sometimes tricky, often funny truth about growing up with a physical impairment.
The Bunker’s Autumn Season will run from 5 August – 21 December.