Love, sex, death, football, goddesses, clowns, faeries and drag queens. Yes, the Arcola is off to the opera again with GRIMEBORN 2009! Twenty-six fantastic companies from all over the world will rip apart classics, show raw new work and re-arrange modern music to really get to the heart of what opera can be about.

“A very hip party”
Domenic Cavendish, Daily Telegraph


Mon 24th August
STUDIO 1 @ 8pm (£15)
The Descent of Inanna: Bare Bones Version

Produced by: Opera Exchange

An Unorthodox 1-2
Produced by: Aurelie

SEE HERE for further information and to book tickets.

Tues 25th August
STUDIO 1 @ 8pm
Produced by: Filament
Composer: Osnat Schmool
Director: Sabina Netherclift
A cycle courier, a pedestrian and a tango make a fifteen-minute love story. A cello and melodica provide the heartbeat of the traffic and other voices provide the pedestrian rush. This excerpt from Drive Ride Walk brings warmth to the ordinary and familiar moments of life & work in the big city.

Produced by: ElectrOpera
Composers: Sally Rodgers, Steve Jones
Writer & Director: Philippe Cherbonnier
Musical Director: Andrew Charity
Cast: Louise Mai Newberry (Phedre), Ashley Alymann (Inspecteur Racine), Terri Ann Bailey (Phedre’s servant), Tom Haywood (Cerberus)
Phedre is an experimental opera using electronic music, samples and sound collage. Based on a classic doomed love story it is brought into the 21st Century through its adaptation and its musical language.

Something Strange by Rebecca Applin and Michael Caines
Director: Helen Tennison
Musical Director: Candida Caldicot
Cast: Emma Fenny, James Hayward, Daniel McWilliams, Lucinda Forth, Alvaro Flores
Midsummer – a time for faeries. Not the sweet kind of faerie you see at the bottom of your garden, but the dark faeries of folklore through the ages. It’s seven years since faerieland last paid their tithe to hell and the time has come for the next payment of human souls.

To Die A Second Time
Produced by: Double Agent
Composer: Tarek Merchant
Director: Teunkie van der Sluijs
Cast: David Hewson, Tarek Merchant, Kirsty Neilson, Sarah Vezmar, Pascale Whyte
Stage and Costume Design: Fiammetta Horvat
He returned from the trenches with no memory, a living unknown soldier. To thousands of grieving families, he became their missing brother, husband or son. A haunting piece of devised music theatre about the extremities of grief and the consequences of war. Based on a true story.

Weds 26th August
STUDIO 1 @ 8pm
The Tender Land
by Aaron Copland
Produced by: Racky Plews for MadCow Theatre Company
Director: Katherine Hare
Musical Director: Leigh Thompson
Choreographer: Fleur Mellor
Design: Hilary Statts
Lighting Design: Howard Hudson
Cast: Esther Biddle, Eleanor Blythman, Dominic Brewer, Amy Castledine, Amie Clapson, Natasha Dobie, Anthony Flaum, Graham Lawder-Stone, David O’Mahony, Damian Robinson
Aaron Copland’s hauntingly beautiful two-act opera is a coming of age tale exploring themes of loneliness, sexual awakening and affinity with the land. As Laurie begins to fall in love, she questions her place in the world and whether it is time to leave the security of home and assert her own being. Just as she makes the decision to chase her own dreams her anticipation of fulfillment turns to despair and her family can only look on as they await her final choice.

Thurs 27th August 
 STUDIO K @ 7.30pm
The Savage (original story David Almond)

Composed, written and performed by the Arcola Youth Project under the guidance of Jenifer Toksvig (libretto) and Nick Sutton (music).
SEE HERE for further information & to book tickets.

Fri 28th August
STUDIO 1 @ 8:15pm
The Work Of Art by Steven Edis and Jenifer Toksvig
A study of the process of writing with words and music. The creation of a new piece of music theatre from absolute scratch, live in front of an audience. Be a crucial part of an experiment in collaboration: eavesdropping on the writers as they start to eavesdrop on their characters.
PLEASE NOTE: This will include strong language and a certain amount of audience participation. You will also be filmed.

STUDIO K @ 8pm
Produced by: The Theory of Everything
Devised and directed by: Pia Furtado and members of the cast.
Featuring traditional gypsy music, Disappeared will be the first phase in the development of a new piece; exploring the crisis of first love and the need to follow dreams that take you on a journey to somewhere else. Inspired by and featuring Janacek’s song cycle.

Sat 29th August
STUDIO 1 @ 8:15pm
The Work Of Art by Harvey Brough and Jenifer Toksvig

STUDIO K @ 8pm
Produced by: The Theory of Everything
Devised and directed by: Pia Furtado and members of the cast.

Sun 30th August
STUDIO 1 @ 2.30pm & 7.30pm
Goodbye Barcelona (second reading)
Produced by: Arcola Theatre
Composer: KS Lewkowicz
Playwright: Judith Johnson
Director: Karen Rabinowitz
Cast includes: Alicia Davies and Alistair Robins
Inspired by interviews with British ‘Brigadistas’ who fought in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), Goodbye Barcelona is about a mother and son caught up in the fighting. This passionate new musical finally brings the brave, heartbreaking stories of the International Brigaders to the stage.

STUDIO K @ 8pm
Produced by: The Theory of Everything
Devised and directed by: Pia Furtado and members of the cast.

Mon 31st August
STUDIO 1 @ 8pm
Why Are Clowns?
Produced by: L’Oiseau Chante
Composer: Ewen Moore
Director: Aaron Paterson
The premiere of a new miniature musical, in which the Arcola Theatre is transformed for a night of sawdust, spangles, song and insanity. Join the ambitious ballerina and the world-weary clown as they share their final dance and discover just what it costs to make the world laugh.

Presenting… The News
Produced by: Size Zero Music Theatre
Composer & Director: Laura Jayne Bowler
Take five satirical articles by one Guardian journalist, Tanya Gold, to create a series of amusing monodramas. If you want an evening of subjective and witty song with hint of contemporary chamber music then this will satisfy your needs!

Dante by Peter Longworth
Director: Holly McBride
In Peter Longworth’s one act chamber opera, Dante, two brothers of very different personalities (the one shy, the other confident and flirtatious) fall in love with the same girl. The emotions of the three characters are expressed through the poetry of John Donne, Emily Dickinson and Peter Longworth, within a musical world of minimalism, jazz and neo-romanticism.

The Wonderful Thing About Lizards by Lucy Smith
Director: Toria Banks
Cast: James Murray-Perton, Helen Stanley, Jessie Holder, Alison Nicholls, Tamara Young
This piece of contemporary musical theatre explores a love of the natural world, particularly focusing on comical observation, and is inspired by a study of absurd theatre and a love of nonsense poetry. Watch the cast transform into lizards in front of your eyes!

Abraham and Isaac
Produced by: Metta Theatre
Composer: Benjamin Britten
Director: Poppy Burton-Morgan
A haunting operatic retelling of Abraham’s near sacrifice of his beloved son Isaac. A simple story brought to stunning life with puppetry. From the company who bought you The Elephant’s Child (Grimeborn 08) and The Devil’s Drum (Grimeborn 07).

STUDIO K @ 8.15pm
Jephtha by Handel
Director: Ralph Bridle
Conductor: Wolfgang Kostner
Musical Director: David Eaton
Band: International Baroque Players
Cast: Tanya Cooling (Iphis & the Angel), Sandra Porter (Storgé), Anando Mukherjee (Jephtha), Ben Williamson (Hamor), Richard Strivens (Zebul)
Jephtha is Handel’s last major work. It was composed eight years before his death, and shortly before a stroke that would leave him totally blind. The oratorio tells the story of a father who pays for military glory with the death of his own daughter, a tragedy in time of war. On the eve of battle Jephtha makes a pact with God: if he is victorious he will sacrifice the first person who comes out to greet him on his return. It is a drama where everything focuses on a simple, banal event – the opening of a door.

Tues 1st September
STUDIO 1 @ 8pm
Stolen Voices
by Neyire Ashworth
Director & Co-devisor: Kath Burlinson
A heartfelt and vibrant solo tour de force combining theatre, clarinet and voice. How do you live with the mysteries that a loved one leaves behind? A Turkish mother’s passionate beliefs force her to live in exile. A daughter explores her identity through music, secrets and song. ‘”Excellent Neyire Ashworth”, The Times.

La Voix Humaine
Produced by: Citric Acid Productions
Composer: Poulenc
Librettist: Jean Cocteau
Soprano: Merryn Gamba
Piano: Jonathan Beatty
Director/Designer: Alex Sutton
A woman phones the lover who has abandoned her. Eavesdrop on her side of their intense conversation as she feigns nonchalance, lapses into endearments and flounders in self-pity. Cocteau’s words and Poulenc’s extraordinary music, performed by soprano Merryn Gamba, vividly convey the desperation of a woman on the edge of sanity.

STUDIO K @ 8.15pm
Jephtha by Handel
Director: Ralph Bridle
Conductor: Wolfgang Kostner

Weds 2nd September
STUDIO 1 @ 8pm
A Shropshire Lad

Produced by: Pst! Productions
Cast: Peter Shipman
Director: Jan-Willem van den Bosch
This gentle and loving presentation combines English art songs with love and war poetry to follow a country lad from his days of wooing in the village and at the fair, to an untimely death far from home and from those he loves. He is an allegory of the tragic and unprecedented loss of life, love and dreams in the Great War.

The Telephone by Gian Carlo Menotti
Director: Nina Brazier
Music Director: James Young
Repetiteurs: Timothy Burke and Ewan Gilford
Sound Designer: David Gregory
Lighting Designer: Adam Povey
Designer: Polly Webb-Wilson
Costumes: Giulia Scrimieri
Cast: Gillene Herbert (soprano), Nick Butterfield (baritone)
Pulitzer Prize-winning Gian Carlo Menotti’s short opera, The Telephone, presented by the team from Grimeborn 2008’s opening success The Old Maid And The Thief (“Glorious grime in Grimeborn”, Evening Standard).

The Singing Bone/Domestic
Produced by: The Stephen Crowe Ensemble
Composer: Stephen Crowe
Directors: Seonaid Goody and Stephen Crowe
This exotic double-bill represents a total contrast of atmosphere and content. Harps mutter and flutes chirrup as we wend through citadels and forests in a Grimm Brothers’ tale, but as rusty trumpets belch we are shoved unceremoniously into a dank kitchen for something a little more vicious.

STUDIO K @ 8.15pm
by Handel
Director: Ralph Bridle
Conductor: Wolfgang Kostner

Thurs 3rd September
STUDIO 1 @ 8pm
The Woodcutter’s Daughter

Produced by: Eclectic Opera
Librettist: Buffy Sharpe
Cast: Kirsten Morrison, Peter Shipman
Combine a maiden who needs rescuing, a prince out hunting, a chorus of children, three professional singers, an imaginative set, an old Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale and new music and you will have a production that will delight your senses and tickle your fancy. Previewing Act Two of this new opera – catch it here first!

Songs Of Alchemy
Produced by: Eclectic Opera
Composer: Kirsten Morrison
Director: Jan-Willem van den Bosch
Cast: Oliver Gibbs, Peter Shipman, Peter O’Shea, Kirsten Morrison
A fascinating song-cycle set around the angel conversations of alchemist John Dee (1527-1608); astronomer, astrologer, geographer, occultist and consultant to Elizabeth I. Original texts, poetry, incantations and diary entries provide an authentic glimpse into a time just before modern science when angels held the keys to the world.

Grimethorpe Race
Presented by: Shared Property Theatre Company
Directors: Lizzie Newman and Rachel Parish
Designer: Lucy Sierra
Scenic Artist: Zoe Parsons
Inspired by Birtwistle’s Grimethorpe Aria, commissioned in 1973, this musical short will be an intoxicating voyage exposing the relentless affairs that remain milestones in our current political landscape. By turns dreamlike and bitingly real this playful incendiary drama lifts the lid on the year the Aria was penned.

STUDIO K @ 8.15pm
The Spoils
Produced by: Shady Dolls Theatre Company
Composer: Paul Englishby
Director: Steven Dykes
Cast: Rebecca Pollock, Polly Henson, Laura Churchill, Roanna Mitchell, Jennifer Johnson, Steven Dykes
A music-loving army official, assigned the menial task of interrogating the low-ranking secretaries of a defeated regime, finds his youthful idealism sorely tested by women whose survival has been, and will be, determined by their willingness to compromise. Join us for what promises to be a witty, provocative and downright creepy encounter between victim and victor.

Fri 4th September
STUDIO 1 @ 9.30pm
Music Theatre Now – a cabaret evening dedicated to new musical theatre writing.
Featured Composers: Conor Mitchell, Adam Guettel, Raymond Yiu, Ricky Ian Gordon, Tim Saward, Matt Print
Director: Alex Sutton
Musical Direction: Leigh Thompson
Cast: Rosmary Ashe with the London Show Choir

STUDIO K @ 8.15pm
Figaro – The Loyal Subject

Produced by: Grimeborn Opera
Composers: Mozart, Rossini, Milhaud
Adaptator & Director: Barnaby Rayfield
Interlinked with Beaumarchais’ dialogue this show radically condenses the operatic treatments of The Barber of Seville, The Marriage Of Figaro and The Guilty Mother by Rossini, Mozart and Milhaud into a taut, funny and sometimes dark look at Figaro and Count Almaviva’s sex and class-driven relationship.

Sat 5th September

STUDIO 1 @ 8pm

Why Don’t You Just Sing Jazz?

Written & Directed by: Roger Mortimer-Smith

Produced by: Nadine Mortimer-Smith

Soprano: Nadine Mortimer-Smith

Mezzo Soprano: Andrea Baker

Tenor: Ronald Samm

Baritone: Peter Brathwaite

Violin: Natalia Czerska

Music Director: Peter Crockford

Assistant Director: Ciara Burrows

Cast: Josie Benson, Mark Whittaker and Daniella Pollendine

A celebration of black opera singers of the 20th Century – their lives, their art and the barriers they overcame to succeed in an art form which often tried to exclude them. The story continues with performances from the next generation of black opera singers.

STUDIO K @ 8.15pm

Produced by: Teatro Vivo
Director: Sophie Austin
Musical Direction: Jamie Fagg
Cast: Kas Darley, Philip Desmeules, TJ Holmes, Laura Hooper, Claire Little, Rebecca Peyton, Mark Stevenson, Sarah Jane Wolverson
Musicians: Peter Clark, Ellie Fagg, Jamie Fagg, Tom Norris
Welcome to the Hothouse – the most beguiling bar in town. Where the tragedies of jealous lovers, unrequited dreamers and greedy good-for-nothings reach their climax, spurred on by a live tango score. Free post-show tango session for ticket holders – experience the sensuality and intimacy of tango for yourselves!