A performance of Lorca’s House of Bernarda Alba at the Almeida Theatre earlier this year
Published: 6 July, 2012
by ANDREW JOHNSON
THE Almeida Theatre has carved out an international reputation for producing great new – if traditional – plays from writers such as Stephen Poliakoff or the recent Children’s Children by Matthew Dunster, as well as reviving classics such Lorca’s House of Bernarda Alba.
This month, however, the theatre is branching out to embrace new experimental theatre companies as part of its newly annual festival.
Lucy Morrison, associate director of the theatre, in Almeida Street, said the theatre was hoping that the Almeida Festival would grow in time to fill a gap where bold, new theatre could find a place.
“The Almeida Festival is still establishing itself,” she said. “Edinburgh is great for new work, but it’s a free-for-all. The Battersea Arts Centre serves south London.
"The Almeida has a particular brand and a very solid audience for its main programme.
“This is a way of introducing these people to a bit more risk and for the emerging companies to upscale their work.”
The Almeida Festival kicked off on Monday with an outdoor production in Spa Field, Clerkenwell, of a play about gang culture by performance artist Inua Ellams, called Knight Watch.
It continues until the end of July with companies such as the award-winning Inspector Sands, who devise work rather than writing it.
They will be performing Mass Observation, about 95 years flashing by in an afternoon.
New York-based theatre group The TEAM will take a look at modern America with their show Roosevelvis while a company called Custom/Practice – whose remit is to make classical texts more accessible – will stage A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but start it in a bleak, inner-city school detention room.
Greyscale interact with the audience “bored of being bored” while Bradford company Lost Dog are known for storytelling using live music.
“It would be great for the festival to be a recognised event on the calendar,” Ms Morrison adds. “I don’t think it’s completely there. It’s objective is just emerging.
"The idea was to say let’s try and look at different ways of working, non-traditional ways of working and opening up our audience to that.”