Returning from 25th January – 20th March 2022 for its tenth anniversary, the VAULT Festival will feature over 600 shows of the best new theatre, comedy, immersive experiences, cabaret, live performance, and late-night events from the UK’s brightest and boldest independent artists. Including new partnerships with leading arts organisations and artists from across the UK, the festival will draw awareness to important issues which concern us today as well as offering the best, and most affordable, nights out in London.
The climate emergency is at the forefront of many artists’ work: Decommissioned is a joyful, romantic play about how the impacts of climate change are happening right here, right now. Set in 2048, 1&Only is a near-fi, bureaucratic, satirical comedy about the politics of selling and the selling of politics. Also taking us to the future is Far Out, set in 2150 when the Earth is nearly burnt out and humans are searching for a new home. Acid’s Reign is a sustainable drag-cabaret play exploring the queerness of nature, and how the climate crisis impacts LGBTQ+ communities, and comedian Steve Hili’s The Sexy Environmentalist is a high-octane mix of environmentalism and “sexiness” in a last-ditch effort to unite humanity and save the planet!
True events inspire many of the shows in the programme. Borders is a play about a Grindr encounter between a man from Israel and one from Lebanon; this delicately scripted and humorous piece explores the complexities surrounding Middle East identity. Tackling themes surrounding motherhood, mental health, child abuse and living with third degree burns, Dolly is a fast-paced two hander, presented in partnership with The Katie Piper Foundation. And Dan Kelly tells the true story of trying to run 26.2 miles in the most secretive nation on earth in How I Came Third in the North Korean Marathon, directed by Fringe favourite Joseph Morpurgo.
Based on the 1970s clothworkers’ strike in Leeds, Shake The City tells of the unheard voices of brilliant Northern women, embodying female friendship, empowerment and grit. New musical Little Sausage is a verbatim piece using real words and folk-pop music to explore the myth that meat equals manliness. Far Gone is a profoundly moving story of a young boy’s journey from childhood innocence to child soldier in Northern Uganda.
Dreamers tells first-hand accounts of the struggle for freedom; Papergang Theatre brings together a group of Hong Kong artists who navigate colonial legacies, new red lines and unexpected fractures. Also with an international focus, I’m Fine is an exploration of masculinity, vulnerability, and identity in Middle Eastern and South Asian culture. Another Lover’s Discourse is an inventive new multimedia performance from one of Palestine’s most exciting contemporary artists, inviting you to think differently about love. Housewarming brings a heartfelt touch to an important conversation around the definition of home and speaks to anyone who has experienced movement and displacement.
LGBTQIA+ stories remain a focus of the VAULT programme. Structured around 13 spoken word poems combined with dub poetry and African musical harmonies, A Dozen Things I Would Rather Be explores truths about being black and gay in the Caribbean, Africa and clubs at the heart of London. Somewhere to Belong tackles misperceptions of the bi+ community, finding new ways to celebrate the authentic voices of bi, pan and queer people from around the world. Shortlisted for the New Diorama UNTAPPED Award 2020, Lesbian Space Crime is a comedy with slapdash songs about intergalactic queer dirtbags. Con-Version is a genre-bending piece about the absurdities of trying to change your intrinsic self with clowning, physical theatre and burlesque.
Unheard stories of modern womanhood are given voice throughout this year’s festival. Using live vocal looping, live film, spoken word and audience interaction, Dosage is a multidisciplinary, playful interrogation of the side effects of the contraceptive pill. Dry Season interweaves music, movement and medical texts with original poetry and animation in this witty, honest and intimate piece that questions assumptions around menopause. Blanket Ban is a devised docu-play interrogating the blanket ban on abortion in Malta through interviews, verbatim, innovative use of technology, and a fondly critical look at the island state.
Friendships have been tried and tested over the last two years: Incognito Theatre burst back with their raucous and riotously funny new comedy The Net Kill, interrogating friendship, brotherhood, and how men express their emotions and support each other in the face of grave danger. The multi-award-nominated, ultimate nostalgia trip is back with DJ Bazzer’s Year 6 Disco as we find just what happened to those childhood dreams, and what jealousy really does to us. Night on Boob Mountain is a surreal and raucous teen horror gig theatre show about puberty, friendships and self-discovery.
How we perceive ourselves and how we want others to perceive us is seen in many shows in the 2022 programme. Please, Feel Free to Share is a dynamic, darkly comic, one-woman show about our personal addictions, the never-ending pursuit of likes, and our growing desire to share all. Peppered with references to Lizzo’s music and full of joyous dance, singing and lip-sync, SELF HATE / What Would Lizzo Do? is about being worshipped – by our society, by our lovers, by ourselves. And Black Women Dating White Men looks at what happens when you’re in love with someone from a culture that systematically oppresses yours.
Disciplines merge, ideas unite, and diversity is celebrated at VAULT. An electrifying re-imagining of the ultimate love triangle, the eagerly awaited Oedipus Electronica from Pecho Mama is a radical reinvention that will take you on a relentless white-knuckle ride through ecstasy and devastation. Ian Lynam’s Autistic License comically explores diagnosis, relationships, sexuality, creativity and the history of autism. How Disabled Are You explores real attitudes towards those who claim benefits and disabilities that aren’t always visible to the eye. Inspired by the death positivity movement, Dead Positive follows the women behind the doors in the death industry, allowing audiences to consider what they want to happen when they die. A darkly comic one-woman show, Frank explores the tensions of being Jewish and secular in the UK today.
The family programme at VAULT offers something for all ages. Science Adventures: The Power Pickle present three fantastic new fun and accessible stories about science aimed at primary school-aged children. Award-winning sketch troupe Privates present a family outing of their show Privates: Great Ideas by Geniuses on 20th March, alongside a saucier, late night version the night before.
Work in progress shows across the festival remain a brilliant chance to see innovative material from household names and fresh new voices. Brand new comedy this year at VAULT includes shows from the legendary Arthur Smith, professional slacker and sensitive friend Rajiv Karia (BBC Audio Contract Writer 2021) with Gallivant and Best Newcomer 2018 nominee Maisie Adam (fresh from Live at The Apollo, Mock The Week, and The Last Leg). Sweet Angel stand-up comedian Helen Bauer (as seen on Live at The Apollo, nominated for best newcomer at the Edinburgh Fringe) presents a work in progress show of her new thoughts, feelings and emotions on pretty much everything. From the genius wonky minds of master improvisers Nina Conti and Shenoah Allen come charming self-appointed relationship experts, Richard and Greta, who want to help you get the most out of your partner whether you have one or not. Plus, don’t miss the likes of viral sensation Jazz Emu, and the return of John Robertson with the world’s only live-action, text-based adventure game The Dark Room.
The late night programme is where to come for the best, most diverse and exciting nights out in the city. Sexquisite presents political cabaret-theatre, created by multi-disciplinary sex worker artists, looking into their lived experiences with glitter, glamour and stigma. Making use of AI and real life drag ‘Me The Drag Queen’, Zizi & Me is a unique cabaret double act about queerness and technology. LGBTQIA+ disabled artists dive nose first into drag fabulousness in Unsightly Drag and Friends, supported by Shape Arts, with integrated AD and BSL – all performances are relaxed.
Leave your expectations at the door with the Lates; Lounge Onyx is a unique event featuring some of the most talented, sought after and up and coming black cabaret performers in the UK with drag, pole dancing, poetry, burlesque, spoken word, circus performances, clowning and comedy. Showcasing the stars of tomorrow, Fresh from House of Burlesque focuses on the hottest new talent in the world of burlesque. Strange Fruit: A Cabaret by Sex and Rage focusses on black femme energy and sex education, celebrating survival and a reclamation of sexual liberty, while JuiceBox Presents: Make It Rain is the ultimate empowerment party with London’s hottest womxn-led LGBTQ+ striptease experience, amazing DJs and pole performances. A safe queer-focused space, Queer House Party is full of great music and community vibes in this camp late-night event. Get sinning with a cabaret disco dance party to leave you speaking in tongues with feminist, trash-pot party starters Church of Pussy Liquor. An international sell out trope from NYC, join Blunderland for the most subversive breakout of the international cabaret and circus circuit. Then the whimsical, surreal, and psychedelic world of Blunderland explodes into a late-night party to close the festival suffused with NY underground arthouse weird and juicy magic.
Prepare for bold, ambitious, homegrown performances that celebrate and champion Essex and Outer East London artists, including the London premiere of new work by Kenny Emson and the debut solo show by Kristin Mcilquham, in association with Essex on Stage – supported by Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and Matthew Schmolle Productions.
Handpicked by Northern Stage, the largest producing theatre company in the North East, expect fresh and innovative new work in their NORTH takeover, with four ground-breaking shows from the brightest rising artistic talent in the North East: Ankles, Certificates, Happy Meal and Mama’s Cabaret.
The brazen and original work of the next generation of performance makers can be seen in Generation V where the UK’s leading creative drama schools, East 15 and Fourth Monkey will bring their best & boldest to VAULT Festival.
When VAULT Festival 2020 was cut short by the pandemic, 97 artists lost the opportunity to present their work. Join us to celebrate the return of these incredible Lost Shows and the resilience of the artists involved. Unmissable theatre, comedy, & cabaret finally taking to the stage.
VAULT Festival is proud to partner with Shape Arts for 2022. Shape Arts is a disability-led arts organisation which works to improve access to culture for disabled people by providing opportunities for disabled artists, training cultural institutions to be more open to disabled people, and through running participatory arts and development programmes.
VAULT Festival Director & Co-Founder Andy George comments, Each and every artist in our programme this year has shown the most amazing resilience to still be making and creating after the past two years. Grass roots, independent artists are the present and the future of our culture and society. They need the support of audiences to keep going and continue to effect long lasting, positive change. We cannot wait to share their unique stories, lives, and experiences with the world.
Head to vaultfestival.com for the full programme and to book your tickets.