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Fuel Theatre Announce Work Addressing Migration and Integration


Responding to a world where the movement of people is never far from the front pages, theatre producers Fuel are developing and presenting several projects with artists that address the most pressing issue of our time. Some are at Early Stages of development, some have new tour dates to announce, and some entirely new works will premiere. Among the new works will be The Hartlepool Monkey, produced in association with Stratford Circus Arts Centre and created by Gyre & Gimble, who met while working as puppeteers on the original production of War Horse.

Drawing on the maritime myth of a monkey hanged as a French spy by the people of Hartlepool in 1814, The Hartlepool Monkey is a dark comedy which explores xenophobia - its causes and consequences - whilst celebrating children's ability to overcome prejudice. The new production makes use of Gyre & Gimble's trademark puppetry to follow the adventures of two survivors washed up on unwelcoming shores. It has been developed at Stratford Circus Arts Centre through workshops with local schools and will open there in September 2017 (Press night Thursday 28 September) before touring the UK.

Continuing Fuel's commitment to cultural education for children and young people, around 4,500 Year Six pupils in Newham will see The Hartlepool Monkey for free as part of the Every Child a Theatre Goer initiative. Now in its fifth year, this partnership between the London Borough of Newham and Stratford Circus Arts Centre has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from teachers, who found the theatre trips have far reaching educational and social benefits. Previous partners in delivering Every Child a Theatre Goer have included the National Theatre and Akram Khan Company.

Inua Ellams' personal experiences of friendship and prejudice are brought to the stage in An Evening with an Immigrant, which will tour throughout March and April. As Fuel set out on this next leg of the tour, the company is supporting Liberty 's campaign to 'Save our Human Rights Act'. Article 8 of the HRA gave Inua grounds to be granted Leave to Remain in 2009. An Evening with an Immigrant comes ahead of the premiere of Inua Ellams' brand new Barber Shop Chronicles, a Fuel, National Theatre and West Yorkshire Playhouse co-production, running at the National Theatre from 30 May to 8 July and at West Yorkshire Playhouse from 12 to 29 July. Inua's third play at the National considers the role of the barber shop for African men, wherever in the world they are living, leaping from a barber shop in London to Johannesburg, Harare, Kampala, Lagos and Accra.

Another personal account of the experience of migration will be explored in a new live literature production by Nick Makoha, The Dark, directed by Roy Alexander Weise, which will have work-in-progress sharings at Ovalhouse on 2-4 March. In 1978 after eight years of civil war Nick Makoha and his mother fled their homeland of Uganda. Many people were displaced, thrown into unfamiliar environments and forced to find their new home in the world. The Dark is Nick's own poetic retelling of his experience and that of others affected by it - a series voices echoing from varying states of darkness.

Celebrating language and communication in all its forms, Uninvited Guests collaborate with Theatr Bara Caws to present a Welsh Language adaptation of their smash-hit show Love Letters Straight From Your Heart, which will tour north Wales between 15 May and 3 June 2017. Scots dialect is on the menu as Clod Ensemble bring their food-centred collaboration with Scottish Artist Sarah Cameron, The Red Chair, home for a tour of Scotland, including rural dates in March.

Brighton Festival will see preview performances (8-9 May) of Summit, a new play written and directed by Andy Smith (Adler & Gibb, what happens to the hope at the end of the evening). Exploring language, rhetoric and communication, Summit tells the story of a meeting: a meeting to resolve a potentially catastrophic situation and is performed in BSL and English by a cast of three. And in dance Fevered Sleep bring Men & Girls Dance, which celebrates the rights of adults and children to dance together, to London's The Place (13-22 April) following a successful tour.

Speaking about the season and the urgency of presenting work around migration, Fuel Co-Directors. Kate McGrath and Louise Blackwell said "It's 2017 and xenophobia, racism and intolerance are on the rise. As our government threatens to scrap the Human Rights Act, Theresa May becomes the first Prime Minister to advocate UK withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights, and seeks a "special relationship" with the new US President, the future of human rights is in jeopardy. At Fuel we work with artists to create work that gives audiences insight into the world we live in, to understand our fears, to galvanise hope, to make change. At this time, we present a series of new works which seek to make a difference. We look at the real human impact of the situation we find ourselves in with stories about children teaching their grown-ups tolerance (The Hartlepool Monkey), attempts to communicate better (Summit and Love Letters Straight From Your Heart), and the true stories of Inua Ellams' migration to the UK and the uncertainty of his right to remain (An Evening with an Immigrant), and Nick Makoha's flight from his native Uganda as a four-year old refugee (The Dark). This is how we've chosen to try and make a difference and we hope you will join us."

Full listings:

Everyday Moments 28 March - 2 July

Hofesh Shechter

A sound installation for one audience member in a completely dark room. In 2011, Fuel commissioned a series of podcasts from different artists inspired by their favourite everyday moment, designed to be listened to at a particular time and in a particular place. Hofesh Shechter's podcast, designed to be listened to alone, in a dark space, is an invitation to move without inhibition - the way you always wished you could when no one is watching.

28-31 March | The Arena, Wolverhampton

FREE | / | 01902 321 321

29 June - 2 July | Derelict Festival, Preston
Details TBC |

An Evening with an Immigrant 7 March - 23 July

Written and performed by Inua Ellams

Born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother in what is now considered by many to be Boko Haram territory, Inua Ellams left Nigeria for England aged 12, moved to Ireland for three years, before returning to London and starting work as a writer and graphic designer. Littered with poems, stories and anecdotes, Inua tells his ridiculous, fantastic, poignant immigrant-story of escaping fundamentalist Islam, performing solo shows at the National Theatre, and drinking wine with the Queen of England, all the while without a country to belong to or place to call home.

7-8 March | Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle
7.30pm | Pay What You Feel (reservation necessary) | 0191 261 5906

9 March | Queen's Hall Arts, Hexham
8pm | £7.50-£12.50 | 01434 652477

11 March | Derby Theatre
8pm | From £10 | 01332 59 39 39

13-14 March | Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry
7.45pm | £10-£13 | 024 7652 4524

15 March | Lighthouse, Poole
8pm | £12 - £15.75 | 01202 280000

16-18 March | Stratford Circus Arts Centre, London
7pm | £13-£15 | 020 8279 1080

22 March | Key Theatre, Peterborough
7.45pm | £12 | 01733 207239

23 March | Theatre Royal Margate
7,30pm | £10 | 01843 292795

24-25 March | Tara Theatre, London

7.30pm | £15.50 | 020 8333 4457

22 April | Birmingham Rep (Part of Birmingham Literature Festival)
Details TBC

25 April | South Street, Reading
8pm | £8-£12 | 0118 960 6060

2 May | The Yurt, Wise Words Festival, Canterbury

7pm | £7.50

8 July | Bradford Literature Festival

23 July | Minerva Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre

7pm | £12 | 01243 781312

Barber Shop Chronicles 30 May - 29 July 2017
PRESS NIGHT Wednesday 7 June, National Theatre, London

Written by Inua Ellams | Directed by Bijan Sheibani | Designed by Rae Smith / Sound Gareth Fry / Movement Aline David | Lighting Jack Knowles

One day. Six cities. A thousand stories.

Newsroom, political platform, local hot spot, confession box, preacher-pulpit and football stadium. For generations, African men have gathered in barber shops to discuss the world.

This dynamic new play leaps from a barber shop in London to Johannesburg, Harare, Kampala, Lagos and Accra. These are places where the banter can be barbed and the truth is always telling.

Barber Shop Chronicles is Inua Ellams' third play at the National with Fuel, following the exhilarating The 14th Tale and Black T-shirt Collection.

Co-commissioned by Fuel and the National Theatre. Development funded by Arts Council England with the support of Fuel, National Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse, The Binks Trust, British Council ZA, Òran Mór and A Play, a Pie and a Pint.

30 May - 8 July | National Theatre
8pm (Thu & Sat Matinees 2pm)| £15 - £35 | 020 7452 3000

Press Contact: Ben Chamberlain, The Cornershop,, 020 7831 7657

Talks and events

In Depth - Working as a Producer Fri 19 May, 10.30am - 4.30pm

In Context - Spoken Word and Monologues in Black Theatre Sat 10 June, daytime

Inua Ellams on Barber Shop Chronicles Mon 19 June, 6.30pm

Men and Mental Health Tue 20 June, 6pm

12-29 July | West Yorkshire Playhouse
7.30pm (Sat Matinees 2.30pm, Thu Mat 2.15pm | £13.50 - £13 | 0113 213 7700

The Preston Bill 30 March - 10 May

Written and performed by Andy Smith

The tale of a man from a city in The North of England. A reflection on the last 80 years of world politics and history. The story of a life. The story of our lives. Written and performed by award winning theatre maker Andy Smith.

30-31 March | FreeStage, The Barbican, London

1pm | Bitesize Barbican| Free

10 May | Brighton Festival, The Spire

8pm | £12.50 | 01273 709709

Portrait 14 - 16 March

Written and performed by Racheal Ofori | Directed by Kate Hewitt

A frank, fun and provocative look at the trials and tribulations of modern life as seen through the eyes of a young black woman. Inspired by Racheal's own experiences, Portrait uses music, poetry, humour and dance to examine identity and role models and challenge cultural stereotypes. After a hit run at Edinburgh and a successful UK tour in 2015, Racheal brings back her debut show for new dates.

14 & 15 March | Northern Stage, Newcastle
7.45pm | £8-£10 | 0191 230 5151

16 March | Wolverhampton Arena

7.30pm | £8-£10 | 01902 321 321

Love Letters Straight From Your Heart 15 May - 3 June

A Welsh language adaptation presented by Theatr Bara Caws, in collaboration with Uninvited Guests

Original production by Uninvited Guests and Fuel

Uninvited Guests award-winning show will be adapted in Welsh language and tour rural venues across North Wales in collaboration with Theatr Bara Caws in May 2017. Love Letters Straight From Your Heart is an event that is somewhere between a wedding reception and a radio dedication show. Audiences speak of their own and other's loves - deep, passionate, ambivalent and unrequited - and dedicate songs to them.

15 May - 3 June | North Wales

Tour venues will be announced by Theatr Bara Caws in April

Men & Girls Dance 13 - 22 April

Fevered Sleep

Men & Girls Dance brings together two very different groups of performers: men who dance professionally and girls who dance for fun. At times playful, at times provocative, Men & Girls Dance celebrates the rights of adults and children to be together and to dance together. It's a joyful celebration of tenderness, empathy, and love. Produced in association with Fuel.

13-15 & 18-22 April | The Place, London
7.30pm | £12 - £18 | £12 - £18

The Red Chair 3 - 31 March 2017

Clod Ensemble

A contemporary take on folk and fairytale storytelling traditions, The Red Chair is a surreal ballad populated with larger than life characters which draws the audience into the extraordinary world of a troubled family, living together but each trapped in their own lonely worlds. Told in a saucy Scots dialect, The Red Chair tells the darkly humorous story of a father who eats and eats until he turns into the chair he is sitting upon, the wife doomed to cook his meals and their 'inveesible' daughter. Created in collaboration with Dundee-born Sarah Cameron The Red Chair is performed with the physical vitality that has become a trademark of Clod Ensemble's work, rooted in the training that both Sarah and director Suzy Willson received at the Jacques Lecoq school in Paris. Woven into the production is an original sound score created by Clod Ensemble co-artistic director Paul Clark.

3-4 March | Tron Theatre, Glasgow

8pm | £10 / £7.50 | 0141 552 4267

6 March | Eden Court, Inverness

7:30pm | £11 | 01463 239841

8 March | Seaboard Centre, Balintore

7:30pm | £10 / £8 | 01862 832888

10 March | Aros, Isle of Skye

7.30pm | £12 (£10 concs) | 01478 613750

13 March | Macphail Centre, Ullapool

7.30pm | £8 (£6 concs) | 01854 613336

14 March | Gairloch Community Hall

7.30pm | £10

15 March | Craignish Hall, Ardfern

7.30pm | £9 (£6 concs) | 01852 500 746

17 - 18 March |Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

8pm | £16.50 / £13.50 / £8.50 | 0131 228 1404

20 March | Theatre Royal, Dumfries

7:30pm | £10 | 01387 254209

31 March | Dundee Rep Theatre, Dundee

7:30pm | £14 / £12 / £11 | 01382 223530

Work in progress and previews include:

The Dark 2 - 4 March

Written by Nick Makoha | Directed by Roy Alexander Wise | Performed by Sule Rimi | Presented with Ovalhouse

A new one-person live literature performance by award-winning poet Nick Makoha. On a November evening in 1978 after eight years of civil war Nick Makoha and his mother fled their homeland of Uganda. Many people were displaced, thrown into unfamiliar environments and forced to find their new home in the world. The Dark is Nick's own poetic retelling of his experience and that of others affected by it - a series of voices echoing from varying states of darkness. What unfolds is a story of those who find themselves exiled, with allegiances split between their birthplace and their new country. Nick Makoha (writer and performer) is a poet, playwright, performer, activist and mentor and winner of the 2015 Brunel African Poetry Prize. Roy Alexander Weise, JMK Award Winner 2016 (The Mountaintop, Young Vic), directs.

2-4 March | Ovalhouse
7.45pm | £5-£8 | 020 7582 7680

So Many Reasons 20 - 21 April

Written by Racheal Ofori | Directed by Kate Hewitt | Presented with Ovalhouse

Melissa is 26 and discovers she's pregnant.

"I'd be established. I'd have my dream job, get a lovely amount of maternity leave, but come back to work early because I'd found the perfect nanny and I just loved my job."

That was the plan. But now she faces the reality of bringing a baby girl into the world. In making a decision about whether or not to keep this child, Melissa reflects on her relationship with her own mother, and on how much - or how little - the world has changed for women.

20 - 21 April | Ovalhouse
7.45pm | TBC | 020 7582 7680

Summit 8 - 9 May

Written and Directed by Andy Smith

Exploring language, rhetoric and communication, Summit tells the story of a meeting: a meeting to resolve a potentially catastrophic station. Our situation. It is previewing as a work-in-progress at this years' Brighton festival. Performed in BSL and English by a cast of three, Summit is a new play written and directed by award winning theatre maker Andy Smith (Adler & Gibb, what happens to the hope at the end of the evening).

8 - 9 May | Brighton Festival, The Spire

8pm | £10 | 01273 709709

Notes to editors:

Liberty is also known as the National Council for Civil Liberties. Founded in 1934, it is a cross-party, non-party membership organisation at the heart of the movement for fundamental rights and freedoms in the UK. Liberty promote the values of individual human dignity, equal treatment and fairness as the foundations of a democratic society, and campaign to protect basic rights and freedoms through the courts, in Parliament and in the wider community. they do this through a combination of public campaigning, test case litigation, parliamentary work, policy analysis and the provision of free advice and information.

Fuel aims to catalyse positive change in the world by producing new live performance by inspiring theatre makers for and with people across the UK and beyond. We seek to realise this vision by producing a programme of artistic work inspired by the ambition of the outstanding artists we support. These artists encourage audiences to understand fears, imagine a different future, and through that experience and insight, inspire change - individually and collectively - in order to better understand and more fully contribute to the world we live in. Fuel was founded in 2004 and is led by Louise Blackwell and Kate McGrath. From a base at Somerset House, London, Fuel works locally, nationally and internationally to develop, create and distribute new work to the widest possible audience. Fuel is a National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England, and a registered charity.

Fuel is currently working with artists including: Will Adamsdale, Clod Ensemble, Encounter, Inua Ellams, Lewis Gibson, Gyre & Gimble, Nick Makoha, Racheal Ofori, Frauke Requardt, David Rosenberg, Andy Smith, Melly Still, Uninvited Guests and Melanie Wilson.

Bitesize Barbican is a series of free performances on the FreeStage at lunchtime. It is part of the Barbican's foyer programme, which extends the ambitious artistic programme beyond the walls of its venues and into the public spaces.

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