Sheffield Theatres launches The Together Season Festival, a programme of work from local artists; curated by a panel of artists, audience members and theatre representatives. The Festival of thirteen works takes place from Monday 24 May – Saturday 5 June at the Crucible Theatre.
The festival forms part of Sheffield Theatres’ initiatives to champion new work and give a platform to the talent of local freelance artists and companies. Artists from across the region were invited to submit productions to feature in the programme, with the panel, led by RTYDS Associate Artistic Director Anthony Lau, working together over a number of weeks to create the festival line-up.
Each company will perform on the Crucible stage and audiences will experience a range of performance genres across the festival fortnight. Closing the festival is Sheffield’s former poet laureate Otis Mensah.
Leading the project, Anthony Lau said:
“This final selection of thirteen artists and companies is a celebration of the extraordinary talent in this city and region. There is a huge breadth of work and, over the two weeks of the festival, there will be pieces ranging from dance and physical theatre to new writing, spoken word, singing and drama. There will be circus and puppets, something to make you laugh and something to make you think. In showcasing some of the most exciting artists in Sheffield, we wanted to bring all of us back together too.
The Festival is about putting local talent on our stages, front and centre, but it is also about bringing audiences back into our auditorium. It is about the chatter of finding your seat and the collective hush before a show begins. It is about sharing laughter and being told a story together as one. It is about the liveness of theatre and being back together after too long apart.
This past year has been tough for everyone working in the arts; none more so than for the many freelance artists who contribute so much to the stages, screens and cultural fabric of this city. With projects cancelled, ideas curtailed and little opportunity to perform their work, we’re excited to share this new platform.”
The Together Season Festival:
Spiltmilk Dance present Desert Island Flicks. Somewhere between a dance performance, a sketch show, a night at the movies and an epic game of charades, Desert Island Flicks sees two leading ladies reimagine, remake and spoof 60 of the most memorable movie moments of all time in just 60 minutes.
Hand On The Tap and Ray Castleton present Without Malice or Ill Will, a story of a retired police officer invited to deliver a talk about his career, crime prevention and road safety. Instead, he delivers an often funny, dramatic and moving monologue exploring how he became a miner at the age of sixteen, a lover, a husband and then a father. The play was nominated for Best Theatre Production and Ray Castleton as “Geoff” won Best Male Actor Award at the Buxton Festival Fringe 2019.
Eva Scott presents A Big Ol’ Laugh, a one-person show based on Eva’s experiences of being a big(ger?) woman in the entertainment industry, exploring how she has used humour and comedy to make room for herself in a world that’s historically been too small for her and others like her. Eva guides the audience through her story with the help of visitations from big funny women of the past: Tessie O’Shea, Hattie Jacques and Victoria Wood, paying homage to the women who came before her, who broke the mould and let out the seams.
Nadia Emam, Heather Fenoughty and John Hunter present Monster Proof. A Godzilla-scale arthropod is stomping through the city, yet firefighter Verity can’t convince eccentric exec Carol to evacuate her penthouse. Or that there’s a monster out there at all. Inspired by Climate Change, B-Movies, the Blitz Spirit and various other timely catastrophes that shall remain nameless, Monster Proof is a comedy-drama anthology performed as ‘live radio’ in the vein of Slung Low’s ‘15 Minutes Live’ series, touring stage performances of the ‘Welcome to Night Vale’ podcast and Orson Welles’ infamous ‘War of the Worlds’ broadcast.
Kafayat Adegoke presents the immersive one-woman show PER-SO-NA, which discusses the clashing identities of what it means to be a not-so-typical Yorùba Nigerian girl: tough, vulnerable, woke, traditional and Queer. Ápinké is brassy, sure of herself and certain that she is not going to conform to the traditional stereotype expected of her by her people. She only desires to bring about a new world order for herself and shine a new light on the existing one. However, where she is from, this is not so easy to do.
Anna Soden presents Five Children and It. Adapted from E. Nesbit’s children’s novel, this is a magical story told through music, story-telling and puppetry. Anthea and her brothers and sister are longing for a bit of adventure, but there’s nothing to do! Until, one day, they make a strange discovery on Scarborough beach… This one-woman show is an intimate piece of storytelling, bringing magic to children and reconnecting them to their friends.
Red Dragonfly Productions and Grist to the Mill Productions present The Ballad of Mulan. Woman, warrior, legend. For ten years Mulan, disguised as a man, fought for the Chinese Empire. Now, as the fighting comes to an end, Mulan will be going home – but can she return to her old life and become a woman again? The Ballad of Mulan evokes the real Chinese heroine that inspired Disney’s animation and live-feature films in a search for identity in a violent world.
Lee Pollard presents Hiding from Wobbly Bob & Other Stories. Barnsley-based poet and storyteller Lee brings his one-man, comedy spoken word show to the Crucible, featuring stories and poems about such things as club trips, Barnsley weddings, vol-au-vents and balaclavas. The show also features a rendition of a deeply moving, poignant tale of a lost childhood friendship entitled “Never Set Fire to Your Friends”, a stark warning of the consequences of the inappropriate use of creosote and other flammable wood preservatives.
Rebecca Solomon presents Second-Hand Child, a show that dives into a world of aerial theatre and puppetry to explore an identity without a history through the eyes of an adoptee. Amy has celebrated another birthday without knowing who she is, having no real information from her adoptive parents other than a picture of her birth mother. Looking back at the ‘what ifs?’ of a life she’ll never lead, Amy explores the anxiety and trauma of being separated and the struggles that come with her identity both as a woman of colour and an adoptee.
Sarah Jay Hawley presents Zen, Drugs ‘n’ Rock ‘n’ Roll, a ground-breaking 4D audio-visual stage creation examining the healing power of the arts. The production is a modern opera, including live performances of new music, spoken word poetry, bespoke soundscapes and immersive multi-media VJ projections. Based on Sarah Jay’s life as a global performer and her subsequent stroke, cancer and recovery, the production intends to reach men, women and non-binary of any age, but particularly those who are neuro-diverse and/or affected by trauma.
Eve Cowley and Elin Schofield present Screwdriver. Returning to Sheffield Theatres after an acclaimed run at the Lyric Hammersmith last year, this one-woman show follows well-loved, loud-mouthed prison officer Nicole in a comic and sometimes dark dissection of privilege, power and prison. With inspiration from interviews, Screwdriver presents an honest, unflinching look at life for women on both sides of the bars. Screwdriver has been developed with generous support from the Bill Cashmore Award and Lyric Hammersmith, Theatre Deli and Sheffield Theatres.
Rationale Arts presents Trust in Care: a high energy production that combines hip-hop, street dance, interactive projection and poetry to tell the dynamic story of two siblings trying to navigate their way through the care system. The production was created with young people in care as the artistic consultants and provides an emotive insight into the lived experience of looked after children and young people. Trust In Care also features performances and poetry from young people in care and demonstrates a dynamic new way of storytelling.
Otis Mensah presents Existed Once. Sheffield’s former poet laureate and rap poet Otis Mensah takes to the Crucible stage for this show’s debut in-person performance – a series of jazz-infused songs, ‘rap hymns’ and poetic workings accompanied by animation art from Sheffield illustrator Jim Spendlove. The performance wrestles with themes of mental health, vulnerability and identity whilst exploring the concept of art as existential archiving in a time where our mortality feels ever more imminent. The show will include an opening performance from Manchester based writer and performance artist SheBeKeke with the event to be followed by a live conversation and Q&A.
Sheffield Theatres also announces two brand new schemes for local artists to develop new work, with a number of funding pots of £750 and £2000 available for artists or companies from the Sheffield area to apply for. The 4 x 4 Commissions with Cast, Doncaster, offers funding to artists, companies and live performance makers to support their work for a period of four months, while the Sheffield Theatres Remote Residencies and Professional Development Scheme will offer 8 artists or companies funding of £750 to support their personal and professional development. Further information is available at sheffieldtheatres.co.uk.
The experience of attending the Together Season Festival has been designed with everyone’s safety in mind, in accordance with the latest government advice. The performances will take place in the Crucible Theatre, configured for social distancing and the safest, most relaxed experience for everyone. This includes measures which will include e-tickets, the ability to purchase tickets in distanced bubbles and new cleaning routines. Sheffield Theatres remains responsive to government guidance and will adapt its approach accordingly.
Tickets for The Together Season Festival are on sale from Thursday 15 April 2021 at sheffieldtheatres.co.uk