Samuel Coleridge-Taylor is one of this country’s great classical composers and conductors. His cantata trilogy The Song of Hiawatha is considered the best adaptation of Longfellow’s epic poem, and he had a celebrated career in the UK and abroad. Despite this, he died in 1912 at the age of 37, exhausted and in poverty. This was the end result of a lifetime spent resisting white supremacy that oppressed him for his Blackness.
This luxurious, multimedia production about magical worlds, the ability to access them, and how society as a whole regards magic is a sensory feast and provokes reflection on the status quo. However, it has a troubling heart. In the programme notes for Mythosphere, director, writer and producer Inna Dulerayn explains how she was inspired by Leonora Carrington, a surrealist artist and activist. Dulerayn writes, “reading about her experience in a mental asylum made me look deep into the nature of mental disorders, discovering their similarities with states of spiritual enlightenment and the phenomenon of extrasensory abilities”. This comment, and the show’s story, make it clear that underlying the production’s beautiful exterior there are dangerous ideas about mental health that could have scary repercussions.
Peyvand Sadeghian was born in Canning Town, and East London runs through her veins. Yet, there’s also the scent of something else, from somewhere far away – rose water and pomegranate, from an ancient civilisation the western world loves to demonise. She doesn’t give this much thought until she is 10 years old and first travels to Iran with her father. This is a turning point in her life; it’s when she finds she is not just one person, but two. As well as Peyvand the Londoner, she’s also Parisa the Persian girl. These two identities are set in opposition in this deliberately messy collage about having multiple citizenships and identities, and embedded with a spirit of revolution.
Founder and director of House of Kittens, Sophie Cohen, has created a show which promises an erotic exploration into the world of unusual sexual obsessions such as objectophilia (sexual attraction to inanimate objects) or dendrophilia (love of trees – taking tree hugging to whole new level).
At the start of what seems to be a fairytale, we meet Nour and Yumna in their tiny house. They have just enough space for the two of them and all the things they need. Though Yumna’s ears don’t work, she’s teaching her language to the little girl she’s raising on behalf of her best friend whose gone to make a new life in a faraway land. They are happy, want for nothing, and their days are full of light, love and stories. But the bombs are getting closer, the men with guns are ever more threatening, and Nour’s mother could send for her at any point.
In 2014, Mark and Marichka Marczyk met in Kyiv as protesters fighting against the Ukraine’s corrupt government. As riot police marched against citizens standing up to their rulers, the pair fell in love.
Newly-minted Cambridge graduate Charles Darwin wants to collect insects and rocks, but his father wants him to enter the clergy. When one of his lecturers recommends him for the positions of resident naturalist onboard Naval ship The Beagle, the 22-year-old jumps at the chance. Over the next five years he sails the world, collects specimens and constructs ideas that eventually become On the Origin of Species. He is also a part of an imperialist mission ridden with Christian colonial attitudes that, in this script, are disappointingly excused in favour of spectacular design.
There’s political theatre, and then there’s Stardust.
Arguably the most visually stunning piece to come to the VAULT Festival this year, Blackboard Theatre combine movement, out-of-this-world animations and the power of words to expose the dark world of the Columbian cocaine industry.