The Space on the Isle of Dogs celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and to mark the occasion has announced its biggest ever season with a programme that covers a six month summer/autumn period.
The Space had considerable success with its digital delivery during lockdown, gaining new audiences who enjoyed watching drama in the warmth and comfort of their own homes. In the hope of turning them into loyal patrons, the lessons and inspirations of that dark time have been embedded in the new season, along with the opportunities afforded by the return of live theatre. Each production will be prepared for performance with social distancing and in the worst case scenario with the option to livestream, but some shows will be available only online.
Artistic Director, Adam Hemming, says, “Going online was never just a stopgap for us, we were interested in pursuing this pre-pandemic and now we’ve seen the benefits, we’re excited to keep connecting with online audiences. Virtually all of our live ‘in-venue’ shows will also be presented virtually, with live-streamed performances continuing when audiences return.”
Online-only offerings include the OnComm-nominated thriller, Broken Link by Harpy Productions, Lydia, a new audio play by Chalk Roots Theatre, a Roman comedy, Aaron and Julia, by On Point Productions and a solo show, Under Heaven’s Eyes by Resistance Theatre Company. This last play was written by Christopher Tajah, one of a dozen artists in the Space’s Global Majority Symposium, Who Can I Be?, created to explore issues around diversity and representation. He will perform the work as the first from these commissions, featuring spoken word, music, theatre, puppetry and film, Amalgam is a further piece commissioned and produced by the Space for this season. It is scheduled to open the relaunch and was created with Frequency Theatre. Three audio plays from Isabel Dixon, Martin Malcolm and Lekha Desai Morrison will be available to listen to whilst viewing an exhibition of Rosemary Burn’s artwork, from which the plays drew their inspiration.
Lekha Desai Morrison is also one of four playwrights showcased in the Space’s second Foreword Festival, with her play Misfits, alongside Laura Horton’s Labyrinth Diet, Abigail Chandler’s Look Who’s All Grown Up and Katie Duncan’s Refuge. These plays were developed through another of the Space’s creative initiatives, the ScriptSpace programme and each will be staged for a week in June.
Solo female shows form a major feature of the programming, with ten to twelve pieces included in the New Moon Monologues. Sally Vanderpump will perform in The Cloak of Visibility by Louise Breckon-Richards and in the autobiographical Don’t Ask Don’t Get, Baby which explores Alice Underwood’s experience of being donor-conceived. Ants Theatre’s Triple consists of six short, darkly comedic tales about love and sex. The first live performance after re-opening will be Rachel E. Thorn’s 90’s inspired Lovefool.
LGBTQIA+ stories are represented in Undone Theatre’s non-linear love story Selected Recordings of Us, while Emily Patterson Hindle’s Toothache is a tale of adolescent twins. This group of plays also includes When Rachel Met Fiona by award-winning playwright Colette Cullen, courtesy of Home You Go Productions.
More light-hearted works also feature in the season. There’s long-form improvised comedy in The Dream Machine from Make It Beautiful, Grumble Pup Theatre’s euthanasia play, Helium, a celebrity spotlight in Hello Georgie, Goodbye Best by Robbie Martin and Rafaela Elliston, wild comedic adventure in Hop! by Clare O’Flaherty, and the exploration of class and identity in the coming-of-age tale Dancing to Disco by Northernwater and Lyle Productions.
There is yet another venture supportive of emerging talent, something The Space has become renowned for encouraging whether it be new writers, theatre companies or actors. This year they will also be hosting selected pieces from East 15 drama school’s DEBUT Festival and taking part in the London Horror Fest for the first time.
Surrounded in a little more mystery the Theatre has announced that as part of the 25th party they’ll be ‘staging a collection of short pieces specially written and performed by a company of 25 Space stalwarts’ on 25th September. Before then, however, the 25th Anniversary Season Launch will take place live online on Friday 7th May. Don’t miss this opportunity to see previews of all the upcoming shows and meet the creatives, with your pen and paper at hand to start shortlisting the show you want to see in what promises to be an exciting season of stunning productions.