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The Playground Theatre Announces Summer-Autumn Season

The season kicks off this week with BOWJANGLES: DRACULA IN SPACE.

The Playground Theatre Announces Summer-Autumn Season

The Playground Theatre announces its upcoming season of newly incubated works, including Well Made @ The Playground - a mini-season of new theatre, opera, and contemporary dance from developing artists - and Ida Rubinstein: The Final Act, a play with music and dance that chronicles the untold story of dance's Forgotten Diva.

The Playground is also co-producing compelling new works at other venues this Autumn, including Value Engineering: Scenes from the Grenfell Inquiry, which sets out to discover why the devastating fire of 14 June 2017 happened after the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower, and who was responsible for the deaths of 72 people. This verbatim play is edited by Richard Norton-Taylor and directed by Nicolas Kent, and will run at The Tabernacle and Birmingham Rep. To support the local community in W10 through meaningful and necessary conversations surrounding Value Engineering, The Playground is producing VALUED - a trauma-informed education and community programme.

Elsewhere, The Playground presents Damage Control at Riverside Studios, an interactive, sonic sculpture exhibition that explores the language of emergency - by artist Josie Spencer with an accompanying audio play by Polly Wiseman that includes the testimony of residents from The Playground's local community of W10.

Under the leadership of Co-Artistic Directors, Peter Tate and Anthony Biggs, The Playground serves as a dynamic and experimental West London-based theatre that offers a unique development space for artists and the arts community to explore new ideas.

Peter Tate & Anthony Biggs, joint Artistic Directors of The Playground Theatre said:
"This season, we are proud to introduce an array of exciting new works that have been uniquely incubated with us - including Well Made @ The Playground, a three-show series of theatre, opera, and contemporary dance, and Ida Rubinstein, the untold story of dance's forgotten early-20th-century Russian diva.

These shows have all been developed and consciously shaped here at The Playground in partnership with some of our most inspired artists, who we have actively invited to explore new concepts. True to our ethos of embracing the joy of play, we are standing up these evolving works so that we can welcome our audiences into the thick of the creative process - and hopefully share in something unexpected together."


Wednesday 28 - Friday 30 July - 7.30pm

Forget everything you think you know about string quartets! Bowjangles is an irreverent, anarchic group of genre spanners, bringing music, theatre, and comedy together in a way you've never seen before.

In this brand-new show for 2021, the intrepid foursome are blasting off into outer space to meet a mysterious benefactor, whose proposition seems a little too good to be true. But what happens when their lead violinist starts to act a little strangely?

The award-winning, internationally acclaimed quartet - who seem to have taken 'hands, face, space' a little too literally - proudly present their new sci-fi horror musical comedy Dracula in Space (WARNING: Contains scenes of graphic violins).


Saturday 31 July - 7.30pm

Stars of their own BBC Radio 1 Podcast and featuring comedians seen on BBC, Channel 4, and Comedy Central - award-winning comedy company BattleActs is back in town. The show sees two teams of fearless improvisers pitched against each other by a ball-busting compère. Each team attempts to prove their worth and battle it out for the ultimate prize: the audience's respect!

A high-octane mix of seemingly impossible challenges and incredible physicality, the teams contort their bodies and test their wits fighting invisible giants, creating jokes on the spot, and face a terrifying voting system to decide the winner. With BattleActs, no two shows are the same - it features unique challenges and forfeits to keep the players and the audience on their toes.


Tuesday 7 - Saturday 11 September - 7.30pm (& 2.30pm on 11th)

Written by Damian Darkness

Presented by Damian Darkness Productions & Soldiers' Arts Academy

Army Girl is a one-woman show with music and song, directed by Judey Bignell, and starring Katie Smale and singer Esme Sarfas. Army Girl is best described as a stream of consciousness prose poem about Northern Ireland in 1974/5, two of its bloodiest years.

The work of female soldiers in covert army units has seldom been told, but I believe they were the pathfinders for the female combat soldiers of today. The songs are intended to say something beyond the troubles in Northern Ireland to something more universal about the life of a soldier. The themes include love in wartime, return from war, death, and survival. There is an oral tradition of storytelling within military life, Army Girl aims to be seen in this tradition.


Tuesday 3 - Friday 13 August 2021

Well Made @ The Playground is a mini-season of new theatre, opera, and contemporary dance from developing artists.

Young emerging Irish actor Harry Butler takes the plunge into playwriting with sexy, risky comedy, Changing the Sheets, directed by The Playground's Co-Artistic Director Anthony Biggs.

One of the hottest partnerships in contemporary dance Emma Farnell-Watson and Joshua Smith curate their first evening of new work, bringing together some of the most exciting dancers in the UK.

Multi-disciplinary performer Darren Berry takes on his biggest challenge to date - the composition of his first punk-opera inspired by the life of The Marquis de Sade.


Tuesday 3 - Thursday 5 August - 7.30pm

Written by Darren Berry

A comic opera set in 18th century Paris and a tropical jungle. One's a fetid swamp, and the other has a lot of crocodiles.

The Marquis de Sade has lost his libido and must find it or lose his head to the chopping block of Marie Antoinette. His quest takes him to a mythical world to petition its Crocodile God of fertility, who is having libido-related problems of his own...

By utilising opera, gospel, puppetry, elixirs, profanity, irreverence and high art with low morals and swashbuckling sword fights, creator Darren Berry weaves an elaborate, engaging, cautionary tale.

Theatre company Reptilian will workshop and perform 'The Croc' at The Playground Theatre, London, with: 4 live & 2 virtual singer/actors, musicians, giant puppets and multimedia creatures score.

This will be part of the development stage of a truly unique piece of theatre which will entertain, delight & disturb audiences, as well as challenging any pre-conceptions of opera anyone ever may have had.


Saturday 7 August - 7.30pm

A sharing of contemporary dance curated by Emma Farnell-Watson & Joshua Smith

Join Emma and Josh for an exciting evening of fresh new works by emerging creators. It's time to reunite in space to witness live work once again, and see how current times have impacted the voices of these wonderful creatives.

Reune will be a night of healing and recovery as Emma and Josh curate a brand new show, with many works made in response to confinement.

This evening of contemporary dance will bring a new wave of movement artists to The Playground Theatre.


Wednesday 11 - Friday 13 August - The Playground Theatre - 7.30pm

Thursday 16 - Sunday 19 September - Dublin Festival

A new comedy written by Harry Butler

Starring Harry Butler & Máiréad Tyers

Directed by Anthony Biggs

Designed by Cecilia Trono

What we say when the lights are off and no one is listening...

"Dyu wanna come back to mine?"

Changing The Sheets is a new comedy about what Patti and Robert say to each other when the lights are off and no one else is listening. After the swiping, the drinking, the small talk, and the big talk. After the bedroom door is closed. This is intimacy - without the gory bits - and you get to have a look.


Thursday 23 September - Saturday 16 October 2021 - 7.30pm (2.30pm on 9th & 16th Oct)

The untold story of dance's forgotten diva. A play with music & dance.

The Playground Theatre presents Ida Rubinstein: The Final Act, with Naomi Sorkin - former ballerina with the American Ballet Theatre - in the role of Ida.

The full cast are Darren Berry as Ravel, Marco Gambino as D'Annuzio, Naomi Sorkin as Ida Rubinstein, Max Wilson as Edward Clement, and Kathryn Worth as Sorreto/Romaine Brooks.

The stellar creative team includes director and choreographer Christian Holder (choreography includes American Ballet Theatre and Joffrey Ballet), designs by twice-BAFTA winner and Emmy award-winning designer David Roger, lighting by Declan Randall, videography by Matthew Ferguson, and Ida's costumes by Charles and Patricia Lester.

Ida Rubinstein: The Final Act tells the untold story of dance's forgotten diva, the early 20th-Century Russian impresario, performer, and femme fatale. From Paris to Palestine, from dancing with the Ballets Russes to commissioning Ravel's Boléro, Ida Rubinstein's career as a dancer and impresario saw her working with artists such as Stravinsky, Nijinsky, and Debussy. But despite her varied career and fame in her own time, her name is all but forgotten, whilst her contemporaries live on in memory.

Now Naomi Sorkin, actor and former ballerina with American Ballet Theatre, recounts the Russian heiress' dramatic life: her scandalous Salomé that lead her embarrassed family to commit her to an asylum, her rise to the heights of fame in Paris, her bisexual love affairs, the assassination of her long-time lover Lord Moyne, and her selfless devotion to wounded soldiers in both World Wars.

Ida Rubinstein: The Final Act combines text, movement, music, projections, and film to evoke a long-gone era of theatrical extravagance.

Naomi Sorkin (Ida Rubinstein) was one of America's leading classical and dramatic ballerinas. She began her career at 14, dancing with the Chicago Lyric Opera, joined American Ballet Theatre at 17, where she rose quickly through the ranks to become a principal artist, there as well as with both the Eliot Feld company and the San Francisco Ballet. She became known for her varied repertoire, which spanned dramatic, classical, lyrical, and contemporary dance. Her dramatic power and lyricism, combined with a strong classical technique made her a favourite with choreographers worldwide such as William Forsythe and Lindsay Kemp.

In her parallel career as an actress, Henryk Baranowski, twice winner of Russia's Golden Mask award adapted _The Idiot_ for Naomi to play Nastyasia Filippovna in London at the Riverside Studios, as well as creating the role of The Black Angel for her in his Macbeth in Poland. She inspired and starred in Madame Ida, which was shown at the V&A, London Short Film Festival as well as in Paris, Capri, Brescia, and St Petersburg, where it resides permanently in the collection of the Theatre Museum of St Petersburg. She also starred in Roman Fever, based on the Edith Wharton short story of the same name, which screened at Riverside Studios and the Aesthetica Film Festival.

Darren Berry (Ravel) is a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, session musician, musical director, orchestral arranger, and composer. His work includes the HBO series Art-land, Channel 4's The Turner Prize, along with installations at the Tate Modern and winning a Grammy for the eponymously titled La Roux album.

Marco Gambino (D'Annuzio) is an Italian actor who has been working extensively in the UK and abroad. Marco has appeared in some of the most popular Italian and British television series including Young Montalbano, Emmerdale, The Boss of the Bosses, Squadra antimafia, and Romolo and Giuly. Films include The International and il Traditore. Marco is also known for his monologues which he interprets in more than one language: Words of Honour, Othello's Guilt, and Maria Callas the Black pearl.

Max Wilson's (Edward Clement) theatre credits include Potted Potter (Broadway Playhouse Chicago, Hobby Center Houston), Potted Panto (Garrick Theatre), Flowers of the Forest (Jermyn Street Theatre), Othello (Riverside Studios, Off West End nomination: Best Supporting Actor), The Komagata Maru Incident (Finborough Theatre), Betrayal (LCT), The Tempest (Grassroots Shakespeare), and Please Wait Patiently andThe Drunken City (Chiswick Playhouse).

Kathryn Worth (Sorreto/Romaine Brooks) starred opposite Tom Hiddleston in Joanna Hogg's award-winning feature Unrelated for which she won Best Actress at the Silk Road Film Festival. Other film features include Waking David, The Gates of Vanity, Always in the Present, Through The Lens, The Fighter's Ballad, Bigga Than Ben, and Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, several award winning short films including Roman Fever. Recent theatre includes John Gabriel Borkman (Gatehouse Theatre), Maurice (Above the Stag Theatre), Game Over (UK Tour), The Listening Room (Old Red Lion Theatre), and Archimedes Principle (Park Theatre).

Christian Holder (Director and Choreographer) has had several theatrical careers, from being a child actor/dancer in London, to a principal dancer with The Joffrey Ballet in New York, to costume designer and choreographer, and most recently, as a solo cabaret vocalist. He has worked with choreographers Jerome Robbins, Agnes De Mille, and Leonid Massine. Ida Rubinstein: The Final Act marks Christian's debut as playwright and director in London.

David Roger (Designer) holds four RTS design awards, an Emmy, and two BAFTAs. He has designed countless productions for stage, opera, film, and television, as well as dance. Recent work includes Twyla Tharps's Mr Worldly Wise at the Royal Ballet, The Fiery Angel (Mariinsky/Royal Opera/Met, Akhenaten, Return of Ulysses at the ENO, Manon in Paris Boheme for Opera North, The Messiah for the Royal Danish Opera, Frankfurt, Opera factory, and he is currently in Prague designing Dangerous Liaisons for Starz TV/Playground.

Declan Randall (Lighting Designer) is an award-winning lighting designer. Declan has over 500 design credits to his name, including: Pride & Prejudice at Beijing Poly Theatre; The Glass Piano at The Print Room at The Coronet Theatre; A Dance of Decadence The Little Orchestra; Hadal Zone all at the National Centre for Circus Arts; Henry V, Othello, Macbeth, Richard III all for the Guildford Shakespeare Company; Bugsy Malone, Animalcolm, Merrily We Roll Along Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford; Sister Act, Full Moon Nelson Mandela Theatre; Man of Steal all at the Menier Chocolate Factory.


Friday 6 August - Sunday 31 October 2021 - Riverside Studios

Presented by The Playground Theatre, Damage Control is a sculpture exhibition by Josie Spencer, alongside an audio play written and directed by Polly Wiseman.

Damage Control explores the language of emergency through events in London's history from the Great Plague to COVID, and asks whether the lives of the poor are worth less than the property of the rich.

Josie Spencer's sculptures evoke a sense of both vulnerability and resilience. Are they broken or breaking free? After this last difficult year, which are we?

By placing the words amidst the sculptures and directly into the ears of an audience, we aim to create an immersive experience through the voices, the thoughts and the emotions of people caught up in disasters and ultimately, celebrate the resilience of London and Londoners.


Wednesday 13 October - Saturday 13 November 2021 - The Tabernacle

Tuesday 16 - Saturday 20 November 2021 - Birmingham Rep

Nick of Time Productions Ltd in association with The Playground Theatre present Grenfell: Value Engineering - Scenes From The Inquiry. The production sets out to discover why the devastating fire of 14 June 2017 happened after the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower, and who was responsible for the deaths of 72 people.

The dramatic evidence, based entirely on the words of those involved in the current Grenfell Tower Inquiry, is brought to the stage by the creative team responsible for the dramatisation of The Colour of Justice - The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry at the Tricycle Theatre, The National Theatre, in the West End and on BBC TV, and the Olivier Award-winning Saville Inquiry play Bloody Sunday.

The not-for-profit production of Grenfell: Value Engineering - Scenes From The Inquiry is edited by Richard Norton-Taylor and directed by Nicolas Kent, with casting by Amy Ball CDG.

Alongside the production The Playground Theatre is providing an important education programme. Theprogramme, Valued, will be available to local schools and the local community. It aims to provide schools with information about the production alongside the contemporary issues of importance that it addresses and the key links to the national curriculum and wider understanding of communities, social justice and human rights.


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