For the final season in their Kennington home, Ovalhouse’s Demolition Party Season will see collaboration between engineers and companies to allow artists dismantle parts of the building as part of their creative process. After 80 years as a community venue and 55 years as a professional theatre, Ovalhouse will relocate to Brixton, opening a brand new, purpose-built theatre in spring 2021.
A venue that has been packed full of exceptional artists making fearless new plays was never going to have a traditional send-off, and rather than reverentially memorialising what has come before, Ovalhouse are ready to tear it down. Structural engineers alongside building and materials specialists have worked with theatremakers to create a truly unique opportunity to dismantle the physical structures that contain them. Ovalhouse are giving their artists the freedom to take risks on stage, off stage and with the very stage itself.
The Demolition Party Season will see Emma Frankland assemble an international cast of trans artists to focus our attention on a global trans genocide in We Dig. Carolyn Defrin and Abigail Boucher will also invite audiences to consider how to respond to dark times with ‘a lot, a lot of love’ in Kissing Rebellion. Returning to Ovalhouse, Christopher Brett Bailey brings back his apocalyptic beat poetry This Is How We Die while Rachel Mars and Greg Wohead poke at plot holes and political lies in Gaping Hole: Story #3.
Ovalhouse’s FiRST BiTE programme sees Associate Artist Xana bring their incredible skill with live loop to Swallowing Your Idols, a powerful exploration of black childhood. Sometimes I Leave is Vijay Patel’s work-in-progress show that promises an honest look at being neurodivergent and navigating social experiences.
Finally, to see the season off in style, four companies will takeover Ovalhouse with parties that give new meaning to “bring the house down”. Bar Wotever, The Cocoa Butter Club, Brazilian Wax, and The R.A.P. Party will ensure the theatre closes with big hits and a smashing good time.
Owen Calvert-Lyons, Ovalhouse’s Head of Theatre & Artist Development, commented: “As Ovalhouse prepares to relocate to Brixton and to mark the end of this extraordinary space, we wanted to do something special. We have brought together inspirational artists to create a unique season of work in which artists are given licence to demolish elements of the building as part of their creative process. It is not the walls of this building that have given Ovalhouse its unique position in London’s cultural landscape, but the artists who have filled it with acts of revolution and the audiences who have witnessed them. It is the natural order that from destruction comes new growth. So put on your dancing shoes and pick up a sledgehammer: Welcome to The Demolition Party.”
The full programme is as follows:
Ovalhouse and Emma Frankland & Company present We Dig by Emma Frankland
Fri 4 – Sat 19 October, 7.30pm
Built from conversations with trans women and trans feminine people around the world, particularly the UK, Indonesia, Canada and Brazil, We Dig centres around the actual excavation of a giant hole – a literal representation of a queer community needing to bury itself for protection.
This exhilarating new theatre project led by Emma Frankland, alongside very special guests, will see them taking complete control as they dig deep into the historic Ovalhouse building to initiate the final season at Kennington. We Dig focuses on trans artists, communicating elements of their global situation, particularly targeting the needs of women and girls. Guests include Travis Alabanza, whose 5 star show Burgerz sold out in London and Edinburgh; One From the Vaults host Morgan M Page; and Indonesian celebrity and performance artist Tamara.
Ovalhouse and Christopher Brett Bailey present This Is How We Die
Fri 25 Oct – Sat 2 Nov, 7.30pm
Written and performed by Christopher Brett Bailey, This Is How We Die is a motor-mouthed collage of spoken word and storytelling. Tales of paranoia, young love and ultra-violence; a spiralling odyssey of pitch-black humour and nightmarish prose. With echoes of Lenny Bruce, William Burroughs, beat poetry and B-movies, This Is How We Die is a prime slice of surrealist trash, an Americana death trip and a dizzying exorcism for a world convinced it is dying…
Ovalhouse, Greg Woehead and Rachel Mars present Gaping Hole (Story #3) by Greg Woehead and Rachel Mars
Fri 8 – Sat 23 November, 8pm
In the Shawshank Redemption, wrongly convicted Andy Dufresne spends years digging a tunnel to freedom from his prison cell. He hides his work under a large picture of Rita Hayworth. On the day of his escape, Andy crawls his way towards the outside world and perfectly replaces the poster on the wall to mask his escape route. We’re so emotionally satisfied when Andy rips off his prison uniform in the rain that we forget to ask how he could possibly have replaced the poster from inside the tunnel. But how could he have possibly have replaced the poster from inside the tunnel? What holes are we prepared to overlook in order to stay comfortable?
Following Mars and Wohead’s cult hit Story #1, Gaping Hole (Story #3) is the third part in a non-linear trilogy about radical narrative.
Ovalhouse, Carolyn Defrin and Abigail Bouher present Kissing Rebellion
Fri 15 – Sat 30 November, 7.30pm
Exploring the impact of global crises and personal heart breaks, Kissing Rebellion is a new dance theatre performance inspired by the social media message that followed the Paris attacks in 2015: “Il va falloir beaucoup, beaucoup, beaucoup d’amour”- “It’s going to take a lot, a lot, a lot of love.”
Hosting dinners over the last three years in London, Paris, Chicago and Los Angeles, co-creators Carolyn Defrin and Abigail Boucher audio-recorded their guests’ humorous, passionate and sorrowful stories that began with a kiss. With connections to family, friends, lovers, identities, places and histories, these original recordings are woven together with live performance to investigate the capacity to heal and care in the wake of what has been shattered.
Ovalhouse’s eclectic new FiRST BiTES are:
Ovalhouse and Lost Kid Collective present Swallowing Your Idols
Thurs 26 – Sat 28 September, 8pm (Upstairs Theatre)
Memories don’t forgive. Children don’t forget. Adults don’t grow up. Swallowing Your Idols is a show about black childhood, about returning, reconnecting, and journeying towards forgiveness so that you can find joy and do more than just survive. Told through synths, hacked toys, looping, and poetry, Swallowing Your Idols brings the child, the teenager and the adult together in an apology owed to your past selves, to be accountable for who you have become and who you want to be. Created and performed by live loop artist, Xana it is a visceral exploration into the experience of Aggressor, Protector, and Victim.
Ovalhouse and Vijal Patel present Sometimes I Leave
Thu 10 – Sat 12 October, 8pm (Upstairs Theatre)
Sometimes I Leave is a new show by Vijay Patel, which takes you on a neurodivergent journey through the process of needing to leave situations. It is fuelled by anxiety, the violence of ‘curing’ (through experimental treatment) and our differently wired brains. Vijay exploits his almost 20-year experience with Asperger’s syndrome since diagnosis. Through performance art, video and theatre, he repeats and reclaims his own lived experiences. This is a show that smashes the stigma against ‘othered’ brains, that imagines existing in a world that, as opposed to discriminating unique ways of thinking, celebrates and cares for them.
Ovalhouse’s unique, one-off Demolition Parties are:
Bar Wotever Takeover
Thurs 5 December, 8pm (Downstairs Theatre)
Bar Wotever’s weekly night at Royal Vauxhall Tavern and their eclectic mix of London’s leading queer performance artists come to Ovalhouse for one night only. Renowned for presenting a vibrant stage for both up-and-coming and well-established LGBT and queer performers, spoken word artists and musicians, Bar Wotever’s audience welcomes everyone. They will bring some of their community, chaos and excellence with them so expect the unexpected!
Brazilian Wax takeover: Demolition Party!
Sat 7 December, 8pm (Downstairs Theatre)
It’s the end of an era, and raucous queer Latinx disco Brazilian Wax is giving Ovalhouse a truly smashing send-off by demolishing walls, taboos and piñatas in this special one-off takeover. Expect the finest pole-dancing, tassel-swinging, floor-f*cking Latinx acts in town; to get sweaty on the dance floor; and games, prizes with some sexy surprises. This party is a safe space for queers, sex workers, migrants, POC, and attendees must abide by the code of respect for all bodies and all identities and to engage fully in this communal moonlight ritual. Enter at your own risk. Prepare to be changed forever.
Cocoa Butter Party
Thurs 12 December, 8pm (Downstairs Theatre)
The Cocoa Butter Club are throwing a leaving party to make sure Ovalhouse goes out with a bang! Celebrating over 50 years of performance, conversations, adventures and, most importantly, people, they’re bringing a one-off Queer Cabaret with everything from neo-burlesque and poetry to drag, hoops and voguing; not to forget the nipple tassel making.
So, lotion up baby, because Sadie Sinner The Songbird will have you screaming.
The R.A.P Party
Sat 14 December, 8pm (Downstairs Theatre)
What might eloquent voices from contemporary poetry and spoken word movements have to say about hip-hop’s past, present and future? Come chill and find out at Inua Ellams’ Rhythm And Poetry Party, a nostalgic, no-clutter, no-fuss, night of hip-hop-inspired poems and favourite hip-hop songs.
Ovalhouse’s Demolition Party Season 2019 runs from 26th September to 14th December 2019 at the Ovalhouse.