MAYFEST 2020 Has Announced Programming

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MAYFEST 2020 Has Announced Programming

Bristol's biennial international festival of theatre returns with a programme that thrills and surprises, featuring RashDash, Le Gateau Chocolat, Bryony Kimmings and Bert & Nasi

FESTIVAL DATES: Monday 6 - Sunday 24 May 2020

19 shows confirmed across eight venues with further announcements to follow

Festival highlights include the world premieres of Raquel Meseguer's A Crash Course in Cloudspotting and the UK premiere of Julia Mounsey and Peter Mills Weiss' 50/50 Old School Animation

New performances from RashDash with Oh Mother and Le Gateau Chocolat's biggest solo show to date, Pandora with the 15-piece Manchester Camerata

First look for Mayfest audiences inside Bristol's newest arts venue, and grade II listed church, The Mount Without on St Michael's Hill which launches with The Major Arcana

Bristol's major festival of contemporary theatre returns, welcoming genre-defying national and International Artists working across visual art, dance, opera, music, cabaret and drag. Curated by MAYK, one of the UK's leading producing organisations, Mayfest is a highlight of the cultural calendar. Themes running through the programme range from the global to the highly personal: the ecological crisis, our relationship with Europe, chronic pain, trauma, disability, motherhood and loss and how we find strength and joy in challenging times.

MAYK's Kate Yedigaroff and Matthew Austin, Co-Directors of Mayfest 2020, said: "Our Mayfest 2020 programme is a triumphant celebration of the incredible richness and diversity of this city we call home. Bristol has a unique community of creatives; makers, thinkers and disrupters and it is in this context that we invite artists to come together with audiences in Bristol to explore what it means to be human. This year we feel more acutely than ever the importance of spaces and environments that allow us to listen deeply and to celebrate the power of the human spirit to triumph in adversity. This is what this gathering shines a light on - artists making work that looks beyond borders both geographically and socially, that acknowledges complexity and that offers audiences an authentic and memorable good night out."

Part installation, part verbatim theatre, A Crash Course in Cloudspotting (led by Lost Dog co-founder Raquel Meseguer) tells stories of people who need to rest throughout the day. It is an ode to invisible disability and to acts of bravery that often go unseen. Audiences are invited to take part in the subversive act of lying down in public, and experience an audio-visual installation that articulates something of what it is to live with chronic pain.

Performances by International Artists include the UK premiere of Peter Mills Weiss and Julia Mounsey's [50/50] old school animation, from New York, USA. The deceptively simple performance, a diptych of monologues for two women, is a haunting meditation on voyeurism, misogyny, and our capacity for cruelty. Belgian artists BERLIN [Bart Baele & Yves Degryse] with Cathy Blisson present an immersive hybrid of documentary film and theatrical installation, Zvizdal [Chernobyl - so far, so close]. Pétro and Nadia are a couple in their eighties who were born and raised in Zvizdal and remained following the town's evacuation in 1986. Zvizdal builds a portrait of solitude, survival, poverty, hope and love between the couple who are surrounded by colourless, odourless but omnipresent radiation.

Pandora, based on the Greek myth, comes to Mayfest fresh from its world premiere at the Lowry's WEEK53 festival. Part song cycle, part theatre, the spectacular performance sees drag and opera stage icon and musical phenomenon Le Gateau Chocolat joined live onstage by the Manchester Camerata.

Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas, the duo behind the critically acclaimed sell-out show PALMYRA, present ONE and The End. The End is a poignant, sad and funny account of the ongoing ecological crisis. Meanwhile ONE sees Bert & Nasi flip between humour and brutality to look at the polarisation of contemporary politics and a toxic relationship that needs fixing.

Antler Theatre's Jaz Woodcock-Stewart, creator of the critically acclaimed Lands, collaborates with choreographer Morgann Runacre-Temple in Civilisation. A startling and funny meditation on the mundanity of grief, Civilisation is an experiment in theatrical realism and contemporary dance.

Two shows consider motherhood. Bryony Kimmings opens Mayfest with her critically acclaimed, sell-out show (Battersea Arts Centre, London and Edinburgh Fringe 2019) I'm a Phoenix, Bitch. Kimmings weaves a powerful, dark and joyful masterpiece about motherhood, heartbreak and finding inner strength. Oh Mother follows RashDash's award-winning Three Sisters. Abbi and her mum explore having (or not having) babies and becoming mothers.

Edinburgh Fringe successes include the award-winning Sex Education (Brighton Fringe 2017 and Total Theatre Award nominee 2019) which sees Harry Clayton-Wright (Miss Behave's Gameshow and Briefs: Close Encounters) delve into his sexual past, live on stage: the good, the bad and everything in between. Scottee's Class is inspired by the performer's experiences of growing up on a London council estate. Class uncovers what it is to be embarrassed about where you're from, how you can pretend to be posher than you are and explores why we all get a thrill playing god with green tokens from Waitrose.

An eclectic mix of performance art and drag gets the festival party started. The genre-defying, Afro-futuristic Brownton Abbey weaves together a dance party, club-ready ritualistic performance art, and an experience of radical inclusivity that is out of this world. Created by and centering queer people of colour especially those with d/Disabilities (aka s/Super Powers), the party's fleet of 'Noir Wave' performance artists hail from the UK and as far as South Africa (festival headliner and rising star Dope Saint Jude). See the Mayfest website for DJ/artist lineup.

Bristol's Big Drag Pageant 2020 storms the stages of Bristol Old Vic hosted by award-winning Drag Prince Alfie Ordinary. Featuring the best performers on Bristol's exploding drag scene, this extraordinary night of wild creativity features four rounds, a catwalk pounding stage show, powerful lip-syncs, explosive artistry, revealing interviews, radical politics and wigs styled for the gods.

Kid Carpet's Epic Fail is a performance lecture about wellbeing and failure for and by young people and their families.

Impermanence presents an eco-drag-cabaret-tarot-reading-ritual exploring anxiety, ecology, sexuality, gender, freedom and love through the magic of The Major Arcana tarot cards to launch new venue The Mount Without.


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