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Ovalhouse’s Spring Season 2019

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Ovalhouse’s Spring Season 2019

2019 is a significant year for Ovalhouse as it marks their final year programming theatre in their current home, before an exciting nine months, staging performances in unusual locations, prior to moving into their new space in Brixton. Ovalhouse’s Spring Season 2019 presents two full length shows and five FiRST BiTES as their theme of care and, most importantly, survival is further explored to strengthen the theatre’s important principles of nurturing emerging artists.

Kicking off the season with Rhiannon Faith’s Smack That (a conversation), Ovalhouse will transform the theatre into a giant house party, complete with cider and popcorn. But, this is no ordinary party. The powerful production is a very raw and honest account of domestic abuse, performed by a mixed cast of professional dancers and domestic abuse survivors. As part of this production, Ovalhouse will become a J9 venue, supporting women in our community who experience domestic abuse; this unusual setting creates a safe space for them to share the challenges they have faced and celebrate their endurance with the audience.

Following its premiere earlier this year and Off-West End nomination for Best Production for Young People, the incredible digitally-animated Random Selfies by Olivier Award-winning playwright Mike Kenny will return for a three-week run. Directed by Owen Calvert-Lyons, Ovalhouse’s Head of Theatre & Artist Development, this play explores child loneliness while bringing to life the vivid imagination of ten-year-old Loretta; a lonely girl in a busy world.

As ever, Ovalhouse’s FiRST BiTE programme is packed full of bright ideas and powerful personal stories. Richard Stamp tells the story of his tumultuous six-months of diagnosis to amputation in Dick. Coco Mbassi teaches us the power of music in Haendel on the Estate, while Sherine Chalhie stages her semi-autobiographical tale Hijabi Matters.

Additionally, Ovalhouse welcome back Pecho Mama with a work-in-progress showing of their new show Divine Interventionan electrifying gig-theatre production telling the story of two broken people and their search for salvation. And, Koko Brown will work together with Ovalhouse’s new Associate Artist Joana Nastari to create Amazonian Sweat Lodge, exploring the consumerism and faux spiritualism in a new collaboration with CASA.

Owen Calvert-Lyons, Ovalhouse’s Head of Theatre & Artist Development, comments, We are delighted to be bringing Rhiannon Faith’s Smack That to Ovalhouse this spring. This is a really important production exploring the impact of domestic abuse. The show celebrates what it means to survive. As part of this process, we are training all our staff in order for Ovalhouse to become a J9 venue; supporting people in our community who experience domestic abuse. Mike Kenny’s Random Selfies makes a welcome return after the success of its run last year which saw the show nominated for Best Production for Young People. We are also announcing our brilliant new Associate Artists:

Joana Nastari, Xana and The Thelmas. These three artists will work with us over the next two years, beginning with Jo Nastari’s latest production Amazonian Sweat Lodge which questions society’s fascination with consumerism and faux spirituality. These are all extraordinary artists and I can’t wait to introduce our audiences to their work.

The full programme is as follows:

Ovalhouse and Rhiannon Faith present Smack That (a conversation)


Wed 27 Feb – Sat 16 Mar (press night: Wed 27 Feb, 7.30pm)

Beverly is having a party and you are one of her guests. Expect games, dancing, humour and a very raw and honest account of domestic abuse. Each member of the all-female cast, a close-knit group of non-performers and dance artists, fearlessly takes on the persona of Beverly to convey turbulent, real experiences. The unusual setting creates a safe space for them to reveal the challenges they have faced and celebrate their endurance with the audience. Faith’s work with a support group at charity Safer Places underpins this show, which seeks to raise social consciousness around domestic abuse by supporting women to openly talk about it.

Commissioned by Harlow Playhouse and supported by DanceEast, with additional support from Arts Council England, Essex County Council, Rich Mix and artsdepot.

Ovalhouse present Random Selfies by Mike Kenny

Wed 20 Mar – Sat 6 Apr (press night: Thurs 21 March, 7pm)

If I lived in the middle of nowhere, you could understand it. If I was halfway up a mountain. Or at the side of a lake. And I had no brothers or sisters. Well, you could understand it. Couldn’t you. If I said I was lonely. But I’m not any of that. I live in a flat. In one of the biggest cities on the planet. I’m never alone. But I am lonely.

Directed by Owen Calvert-Lyons, Random Selfies is performed on a digitally animated set, bringing to life the vivid imagination of ten-year-old Loretta; a lonely girl in a busy world. This is an exciting new play written by Olivier Award-winning playwright Mike Kenny and designed by illustrator Rachana Jadhav.

Ovalhouse’s lively five new FiRST BiTES are:

Ovalhouse and Richard Stamp present Dick

Thurs 31 Jan – Sat 2 Feb, 7.45pm (Upstairs Theatre)

Lead artist and clown Richard Stamp collaborates with highly experienced creatives and practitioners to present his honest experience with penile cancer. Dick describes his whirlwind journey from diagnosis to partial penectomy which left him a clown with a mission: to promote understanding of the disease and its effects, to both doctors and civilians. This is an important piece of theatre that explores ideas about taboo, manhood, and potency which can obstruct early diagnosis and mental vulnerability.

Ovalhouse and Coco Mbassi present Haendel on the Estate

Thurs 14 – Sat 16 Feb 7.45pm (Upstairs Theatre)

With book, musical arrangements and lyrics by Coco Mbassi, Haendel on the Estate is the story of George, a singing teacher hired in a south London school mainly because, like most students, she is black. To broaden their horizons, she introduces them to Haendel’s Messiah. We soon discover that she couldn’t be more different from them and this causes hilarious culture clashes that reveal just how misleading assumptions can be.

Ovalhouse and Sherine Chalhie present Hijabi Matters

Thurs 7 – Sat 9 Mar, 7.45pm (Upstairs Theatre)

Hijabi Matters is a one-woman contemporary exploration of identity, culture, family pressure, and forced marriage. The play begins with Isha: a teenage, British Syrian girl sharing a colourful exploration of her extended family in Syria. Once back home in London she faces an unexpected visitor. The audience become her confidants as she talks of first love, the manipulation and pressure to get engaged before her 18th birthday. Will she be duty bound to marry? Or will she be liberated and finally decide to live the life she so desperately desires?

Ovalhouse and Pecho Mama present Divine Intervention

Wed 20 – Fri 22 Mar, 7.45pm (Upstairs Theatre)

A mother’s quest to find her missing daughter takes her to the underworld of Berlin, and into the arms of the last man who saw her daughter alive. A gig-theatre production, Divine Intervention is the story of two broken people and their search for salvation. Following their powerful production
of Medea Electronica, Pecho Mama return to Ovalhouse with the very first draft of their new play written and directed by Mella Faye.

Ovalhouse and CASA present Amazonian Sweat Lodge

Thurs 28 – Sat 30 Mar, 7.45pm (Upstairs Theatre)

After a transcendent spiritual awakening Jo and Koko have returned to London from The Amazon – a warehouse, in Swansea – where they had a cosmic transformation and now are legitimately enlightened beings. Koko Brown and Joana Nastari have created their own church and you are the congregation. Together, they will create an experience for you so that you can be awakened too. Step into their sweat lodge and let them be your spirit guides. Journey through the cosmos of faux spirituality, songs, ceremony, and Amazon purchases. They welcome you Brothers, Sisters and Siblings alike. Bring an offering. There will be a sacrifice.

Ovalhouse’s spring season will run at Ovalhouse, 52-54 Kennington Oval, London SE11 5SW from Wednesday 30th January – Saturday 6th April 2019