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Blog Posts

Julia Burbach on The Rape of Lucretia

Following her acclaimed Grimeborn productions of Madama Butterfly and Tosca, director Julia Burbach now prepares to turn the lens of Benjamin Britten‘s The Rape of Lucretia on the representation of women from ancient myths to the #MeToo movement. Here, she tells us more about what to expect from her latest production and one of the centrepieces of …

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Rabiah Hussain: Why I Wrote Spun

Playwright Rabiah Hussain reflects on the origins of her exhilarating debut play Spun. Telling the story of two British Pakistani friends from East London, she wants to readdress how we look at representation and truthfulness around South Asian narratives. After months of staring at words on the page, rehearsals for Spun have been a welcome break. I’ve been …

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Women’s stories told for everyone

Sophie McKay is a writer, playwright and performer, and one of the members of Arcola’s new Women’s Company. Here, ahead of their first production Smile, Darling, she writes about putting women’s stories on stage. What constitutes a ‘woman’s story’? Well you’ve got the usual haven’t you: the first sexual experience in all its uncomfortable glory, the dress you …

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Will Self on Great Apes

Will Self reflects on the origins of his novel Great Apes, which first burst onto the page in 1996. The disturbing and hilarious story of a Turner Prize-winning artist, undergoing treatment for a psychotic delusion that he’s human, is being brought to the stage by Patrick Marmion, in its very first stage adaptation. In the early 1990s …

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Joanne Ryan on Eggsistentialism

Joanne Ryan based her award-winning show Eggsistentialism on her comical journey to decide if she should have a baby. Here she discusses the show and why, despite all the best-intentioned advice, we should all ultimately listen to our heart. On a cold, January morning in 2015 I sat in a room with 5 other writers and first …

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Call for Submissions: Global Queer Playwriting/Queer Plays in Translation

In 2018, the Arcola Queer Collective will present its fourth annual season of theatre and performance.  In 2017, we presented forgotten and rediscovered plays from queer theatre history, from Mae West’s effervescent The Drag, and a new re-imagining of Edouard Bourdet‘s La Prisonnière, to a series of plays from the activist queer theatre of the …

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Frances Bingham on Natalie Barney

In her new play, The Blue Hour of Natalie Barney, writer Frances Bingham brings to the stage one of history’s most fascinating and pioneering women. She spoke to us about her writing process and the art of turning biography into drama. Natalie Barney’s life seems made for the stage. A Parisian-American who lived through Decadence and Modernism, two …

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Inside ArcolaLAB: Invisible Man R&D

ArcolaLAB is a residency and development programme to support BAMER (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee) artists and theatre-makers. Each year Arcola support the equivalent of 26-weeks worth of R&D, readings, rehearsal and development space, ranging from 1 day to 2 weeks.  From Monday 4th to Friday 8th September 2017, ArcolaLAB supported the development of …

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Jane Upton on All The Little Lights

Jane Upton won the 2016 George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright for All The Little Lights. Ahead of its London premiere at Arcola, she reveals where the play came from – and how it grew. In January 2014, Fifth Word commissioned me to write a play. Any play. About anything I wanted. The only …

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Aylin Bozok on her production of SAMSON AND DELILAH

WhatsOnStage Award-winning director Aylin Bozok has returned to Grimeborn with a bold take on Camille Saint-Saëns’ extraordinary biblical epic Samson And Delilah.  My vision is to tell the story of Samson and Delilah in a dreamlike, surrealist environment far detached from any form of realism so it can be felt on a psychological level rather than …

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The Unearthing of a Dada-esque Libretto: Cecilia Stinton on Spectra Ensemble’s COLLISION

Director Cecilia Stinton on how she discovered the libretto of Collision and how Spectra Ensemble decided to bring Schwitters’ text to life. Collision if part of Grimeborn 2017, on stage 17-19 August. More info and tickets (£17, £14 concessions) here. One summer afternoon after finishing my Master’s degree, I found myself in the library, aimlessly leafing through …

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Arcola Creative Engagement to present opera for under 5s and a new musical devised and performed by Hackney young people

Arcola’s Creative Engagement department – which works with the local community and creates over 11,000 opportunities for participation and talent development – is to present two productions as part of this year’s Grimeborn opera festival. The first, OPERA MOUSE, extends Grimeborn’s inclusive and captivating programme to under 5s. The production follows Tilly Mouse who lives under an …

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Whatever happened to Elvira Bonturi?

Ahead of Il Letto‘s premiere at Grimeborn 2017, librettist and playwright Christopher Hogg goes in search of Elvira Bonturi, an amateur soprano who married the composer Giacomo Puccini. I don’t think I have ever felt a colder January wind, than that which whips down from the mountains and across Lake Massaciuccoli to the gates of …

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Staging a Plague

Neil Bartlett was Artistic Director of the Lyric Hammersmith from 1994 to 2005. Since then he has created acclaimed work with Artangel, the National Theatre and for festivals across the UK. Here he writes about the inspiration for his new stage adaptation of The Plague, playing at Arcola from 5 April to 6 May 2017. …

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Mehmet Ergen on The Cherry Orchard

Ahead of his major new production of The Cherry Orchard, Artistic Director Mehmet Ergen discusses the play and its salience on the hundredth anniversary of the Russian Revolution. What are the main themes you are seeking to bring out in The Cherry Orchard? Change; change in society. What’s fascinating about Chekhov is that he’s writing …

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Reprieve Director Clive Stafford Smith on the ‘Drone Age’

Ahead of the world premiere of Drones, Baby, Drones, Clive Stafford Smith (director of human rights organisation Reprieve) speaks about the use of drones in modern warfare. I am Clive Stafford Smith, the director of Reprieve, and I’ve been talking about Drones for days – (with a laugh in his voice) I’m claiming that I coined …

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En Route: Empty Beds

3 fantastic new plays are transferring from the Edinburgh Fringe to Arcola Theatre next month, as part of our EH to E8 season. The first production is Empty Beds, which opens on 4 October. Writer and actor Julia Cranney and actor Carys Wright tell us more. Briefly, what’s Empty Beds about? JC: Three Northern sisters …

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En Route: Swansong

3 fantastic new plays are transferring from the Edinburgh Fringe to Arcola Theatre next month, as part of our EH to E8 season. We’re catching up with each company on the way – starting with DugOut Theatre, whose new show Swansong opens on 11 October. Co-writer and actor Tom Black tells us more. Briefly, what’s …

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Join one of Arcola’s critically acclaimed Community Performance Companies

We are looking for new members to join, take part and perform as part of our Community Performance Programme. Arcola run groups target specifically at the Turkish and Kurdish Community (Ala-Turka), over 50’s (Arcola 50+), self identifying LGBTQ* individuals (Arcola Queer Collective), and men whose lives have have been affected either directly or indirectly by …

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