News: Without Walls brings arts to outdoor spaces across the UK with 2022 programme

Without Walls have announced their 2022 programme, filled with work from some of the UK’s most highly regarded outdoor arts and performance specialists. With advances in outdoor arts every year, the programme highlights and brings together some of the most exciting new companies and street artists making vital work for the public space. As we move out of the Covid-19 pandemic, the group of organisations forming Without Walls continues to enforce the importance of this artform in restoring audience confidence and breaking boundaries.

This year’s programme explores themes of digital art, nature, mental health and wellbeing, climate change, black excellence, family and community. The programme includes a towering interactive installation of gentle giants made from fabric and air in Unfurl. Representing a garden, the piece made by roboticist designers and software engineers at Air Giants is suitable for all ages and celebrates the wonder as well as the intelligence of nature. Flood is an interactive piece from Theatre Témoin, fully BSL integrated and using dynamic movement and acrobatics. Inspired by an imaginary conversation between the UK coastal communities and the world’s oceans as both are feeling ‘seasick’, it has been created from hours of conversations with communities across the UK.

Fuel and Common Wealth have come together to form the site-specific theatre piece Peaceophobia. Staged in a car park, featuring modified cars, cinematic lighting and an electronic sound score, the piece is an unapologetic response to rising Islamophobia around the world. Growing up in the shadow of the Bradford Riots, 9/11 and police harassment, cars and faith are a sanctuary, an escape, an expression for three Muslim Pakistani men.

Jo Burns, Chair of Without Walls, comments: Without Walls is delighted that this year’s programme of commissions is drawn from some of the most innovative and exciting companies working in the UK. The range of themes speaks to the strange and difficult times we are living through as well as to the joy of once again sharing glorious times in the streets and spaces of towns and cities across the nation.

Dance, circus and physical theatre is seen throughout the programme. Avant Garde Dance will present Scrum, which weaves together the company’s trademark synthesis of hip-hop and contemporary dance with a captivating original soundtrack. The piece will animate a rebellious rabble of young digital natives in protest against global freedom of creative expression. With VR headsets, Scrum uniquely overlaps live performance with virtual reality. SAY celebrates the joy and innocence of making up dances in interactive, outdoor dance show The Album: Skool Edition. Collaborating with music artists, SAY’s infectious energy combines dynamic contemporary styles to create a slick and playful performance. From Joli Vyan, Timeless is about the passing of time and fear. Taking place on a 7 metre high rotating hourglass, it is a daredevil yet poignantly sensitive representation of the ambiguous nature of time and the threat of irreversibility of climate change. Collectif and then… will mount No Man’s Land, a circus performance which will immerse audiences and highlight the borders we create as a community. There Should be Unicorns from Middle Child will present a brand-new hip-hop musical for families. Theatre, dance and hip hop collide and reimagine what theatre can be. Meanwhile, The Clay Connection will present Lives of Clay from Vidya Thirunarayan, which combines her expertise in Bharata Natyam dance with her skill as a potter in a unique theatrical event. Through dancing with clay while throwing pots on stage she has found a new way to tell stories rich with drama and emotion.

Sometimes outdoor installations invite us to reconnect with our surroundings. FeelPlay from acclaimed performer Christopher Green will invite an adult-only audience to rediscover play in a playground especially made for grown-ups, asking them to take a joyful look at their mental health. Matthew Harrison’s Community Chest is a participatory interactive art installation that aims to bring people together through cooperative treasure hunting and puzzle-solving challenges whilst testing communication skills and encouraging neighbourliness.

Street Theatre continues to allow a larger audience to engage with Outdoor Arts. Strollers will provide a group of six global majority disabled, Deaf and neurodivergent artists from DaDa and Black Gold Arts to lead audiences on a stroll collecting stories. Culminating in a massive performance party, Strollers provides an accessible, inclusive and entertaining event that encourages audiences to take part and join in. Daryl Beeton Productions and Mimbre come together for Look Mum, No Hands! – a tender story about friendship and growing up. Using a combination of theatre, movement and acrobatics, the performance will highlight one of the characters use of a wheelchair as a creative advantage, creating new acrobatic shapes and choreographies.

With their trademark distinctive mix of drag, live music and interactive games, Fatt Projects’ new project Big Gay Disco Bike will transform public spaces. Audiences can expect glitter, confetti, power ballads, and explosions of queer joy as the company gets communities up on their feet. Eau de Memoire from Francesca Baglione, Miss High Leg Kick, uses fragrances to represent memories of a place and a moment. Audiences will experience the unique scent of the Funfair 1978, Leisure Centre 1992, Squat Party 2002 and more, in a journey for noses! Tara Theatre will mount Final Farewell, an audio walk experience that offers a moment of contemplation and collaboration. Sudha Bhuchar has based the show on the experiences of loss during the pandemic for people local to Wandsworth.

Without Walls leads excellence in outdoor arts and annually invests commissioning funds into a programme of new outdoor shows that go on and tour across the UK and internationally. This process ensures an influx of new shows for the outdoor arts sector and helps nurture the talent and skills of those working in the sector. These works range from the intimate to the epic, aiming to create high-quality arts experiences accessible to all regardless of personal, social or economic circumstances. With the arts sector still struggling to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, Outdoor Arts remains paramount in restoring audience confidence in attending live events.

Without Walls will be announcing which festivals each artist will be performing at in due course.

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