Lift, previously London International Festival of Theatre, has a 25 year history of presenting innovative theatre from around the world to London audiences, often in unconventional spaces. Following the last biennial festival in 2001 and with its track record of bold experimentation undiminished, the Lift Enquiry from 2001-2006 was an exploration of UK and international performance looking at ways of creating a new, truly collaborative festival model.
This summer in Stratford, East London (12-21 June) and at the Southbank Centre (26 June-6 July) Lift re-introduces itself to London with Lift Festival 2008 created with a team of International Associates – artists and producers from the UK and around the world – and with diverse community groups from East London. Creating a festival that is about more than art, Lift’s collaborative model allows Festival attendees to become more than an audience – they become participants. To make this possible Lift has worked with its International Associates and London network, along with architects AOC, to create a mobile meeting place and a parliamentary festival hub, called The Lift.
The Lift will sit at the heart of future Lift Festivals. Programmed by Lift’s International Associates, The Lift is a place where the local community can talk about what matters to them most with a programme that will spark discussions and debates about how we live and how we might live.
The Lift is an extraordinary mobile arts venue. Four storeys high – the height of three double decker buses – it is an awe-inspiring structure, in itself a piece of public art. It is the result of a two year design process involving architects AOC, who have worked with Lift and 200 east and south-east Londoners to develop their initial designs. The trapezoid shaped venue is covered with a translucent colourful skin that when illuminated, becomes a giant beacon that can be seen from miles away. It is a theatre, a concert hall, an open air stage, an interactive billboard, a cinema, an exhibition and a public meeting space all in one.
Lift is proud to announce a three year partnership with the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation (LTGDC), ensuring a future for The Lift in the East London area through a major grant to deliver four festivals over a three year period across the London Thames Gateway. LTGDC’s investment will encourage sustainable regeneration of the area through the arts – one of the largest contributions between a regeneration agency and arts organisation.
John Middleton, Head of Economic Development at LTGDC commented: “The partnership between LTGDC and The Lift provides a platform for local residents to come together as a community and engage with their changing environment. Cultural activities such as this festival challenge our perception of places and also boost investor confidence – driving the economic development of the area and creating a strong sense of place.”
Lift Festival 2008 Programme Overview
Lift Festival 2008 will reach across two sites starting in Stratford, East London, from 12-21 June with The Lift in Stratford Park, then moving to the Southbank Centre from 26 June-6 July with The Lift in Southbank Centre Square. Highlights of Lift Festival 2008 include the UK premieres of international productions from Australia, India, New Zealand, South Africa, China and Canada; local Lift commissioned projects; feasts, workshops and a range of conversations and discursive events.
Lift Festival 2008 in Stratford – programme detail
Lift Festival 2008 in Stratford begins on 12 June with a 10 day programme at Theatre Royal Stratford East, Stratford Circus and at The Lift in Stratford Park.
At Theatre Royal Stratford East, Dangalnama offers moving accounts of the rioting that has occurred in India since the assassination of Indira Ghandi in 1984. Director Prasad Vanarase presents the voices of journalists, students, artists and politicians that shed light on the current social, economic and political climate in India. A year in development, Lift is proud to present Dangalnama’s first performance outside India. Related events: at The Lift in Stratford Park, a free outdoor screening of the award-winning Bombay (Dir. Mani Ratnam, 1995) a Bollywood modern classic set against the dark times of the religious riots in India and based on the true story of the taboo marriage of a young Hindu man and a Muslim woman.
From South Africa, Magnet Theatre’s Every Year Every Day I Am Walking at Stratford Circus explores the psychological impact of war, trauma and displacement on young people. This celebrated and moving production deals with the consequences of that loss on a young life. Related events include Children of War, a panel discussion chaired by Newham-based community mediation service, Conflict and Change, where Mark Fleishman (Director, Magnet Theatre) from South Africa and theatre director Oby Obyerodhyambo, Lift International Associate (Kenya) will respond to Every Year Every Day I Am Walking based on their own experience.
The Lift programme includes: Trashcatchers – a series of workshops to create costumes and art installations made with waste materials, culminating in the Trashcatchers Ball; Signs of the World by Jenny Sealey with Graeae – a series of still and moving images that demonstrate the international diversity of sign language commissioned for Lift Festival 2008;
Speak, an exploration of citizenship in modern London with vignettes of Londoners from diverse backgrounds telling their stories of belonging and exclusion – a Lift Festival 2008 co-commission with Theatre Royal Stratford East from Dawn Reid, Lift International Associate (UK) and Associate Director of Theatre Royal Stratford East and spoken word artist, Roger Robinson; Theatre Venture’s Three Stories which brings three brand new comedies based on three stories from three of Newham’s vibrant communities – O’Farrell’s Stage School in Canning Town, DUKA Dominican UK Association and Albanian group, Shpressa; Kicking Kangaroo in association with East London Dance – East London’s very own fully accessible club night run by people with learning disabilities; and Millipede – a team of local people working collaboratively with artists They Are Here to capture responses to Lift Festival 2008 Stratford from audiences, artists and passers-by through sound, video, photography, text messaging, live performance and writing.
The Lift programme also offers lunches, a multi-lingual karaoke from the 146 languages spoken in Newham, open dance workshops and a fabulous community picnic in Stratford Park.
Lift Festival 2008 at the Southbank Centre – programme detail
Lift and the Southbank Centre invite you to be more than a spectator at Lift Festival 2008 Southbank Centre from 26 June to 6 July. Four performances – global reports from Australia, the Pacific, China and Canada, selected by Lift’s team of international associates – ignite adventures in dynamic conversation, exchange and action with London audiences. These powerful UK premier productions, ranging in scale from a concert of thirty to a solo performance are testimonies from artists and communities engaged with the issues of our time – individual and collective freedoms and the impact of globalisation, colonisation and climate change.
In the year that the new Australian premier formally apologised to the indigenous people of Australia, Black Arm Band presents Murundak in the Royal Festival Hall, a moving portrait of contemporary aboriginal life told through the inspirational music of Australia’s black protest movement. With parallels to Cuba’s Buena Vista Social Club, Murundak is performed for the first time outside Australia by a 28 piece ensemble of contemporary Aboriginal musicians and their collaborators, and set against a backdrop of archive film images.
In the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Artistic Director of MAU and Lift International Associate (New Zealand), Lemi Ponifasio returns to premiere his new work Tempest II. Using the mesmeric intensity of traditional Pacific ritual forms, Tempest II is a highly minimalist contemporary performance, portraying a staged meeting between the audience and leading Maori activist, Tame Iti. Ponifasio’s production challenges the ideas of justice, ownership and redemption in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, through personal stories of oppression and resistance.
Also in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Living Dance Studio, China’s only independent dance company, presents the UK premiere of Report on the Body. This multimedia dance-theatre event offers a rare glimpse into the real experience of living in China today. Based on interviews and improvisation, Report on the Body depicts a woman’s body as a mirror of society in a sensual, provocative piece. Working with video artist Jiang Zhi, Wen Hui creatively interrogates China’s dreams of fashion, money, sex and freedom. Even when the subjects are not speaking, we are learning from the silence – Wall Street Journal.
Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg fuses dance and theatre to create a powerful and memorable performance, bANGER – The Power Hour (Canada). Pushing the extreme and seducing the audience with comic character driven sequences, bANGER – The Power Hour combines humour and satire to explore gender, masculinity and adolescence. Morphing through fastpaced gender bending characterisations, director Sophie Yendole and Friedenberg takes us on a journey through the world of high school as it is seen through the eyes of a young man driven to find his place in the world. Lighting design by James Proudfoot with composer and sound designer Marc Stewart.
The Lift, at Southbank Centre Square, will host a range of activities – talks, screenings, workshops and performances as well as being great place to meet through the day.
The first weekend offers a rare opportunity to engage with architects, activists, housebuilders, poets and prophets from the Pacific in Pacific Thought Symposium; Lemi Ponifasio and members of MAU in the building of a traditional Samoan house in Southbank Centre Square; and Pacific Solution, an intimate documentary film recounting the diplomatic storm that broke out in 2001 when 436 Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban regime were adrift off the coast of Australia and rescued by the MV Tampa.
On Soapbox Sunday the focus is on communication with signing and speechmaking workshops. Hear from the politicians of the future as young people involved in the Southbank’s Operation Soapbox speak out from across the country.
Six Adventures in Conversations reveal not just that Londoners are talking about change but how we’re making it and how much fun it can be. Events are presented with partners the Institute of Ideas, Improbable, Resonance FM, City Mine(d), mouth to mouth and the Live Art Development Agency.
On the closing weekend A Parliament on Climate Change includes Ishrat Nishrat (Lift International Associate) presenting a Report from Bangladesh, bike rides mapping the future flood plains of London, and a closing party to share skills, develop networks and take ideas into action.
The Lift at Shoreditch Festival 16-24 August
The Lift makes its next appearance in Shoreditch Park during the Shoreditch Festival with a 9-day programme of high-impact events and plenty of entertainment to exercise both body and soul. The programme is developed with the Shoreditch Trust an award winning community-led regeneration agency.
With a wide range of free and ticketed events, inspired by and developed with local groups, highlights include: K’boum – spectacular French contemporary circus, BMX stunts, contortions and acrobatics; a collaboration between contemporary South Asian dance company Angika and local group Ebonessence; and on 24 August, the historic day that host borough Hackney officially welcomes the Olympics to London, The Lift hosts an exciting contemporary art event.
Visit shoreditchfestival.org.uk for full details and booking information.