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Oval House Theatre - Spring 2013

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE Ovalhouse Spring Season 2013 celebrates 50 years at theatre’s cutting edge, with new work from Chris Goode, Paper Tiger and Emma Adams being presented alongside Counterculture 50 commissions, each reflecting and celebrating a decade of Ovalhouse’s history.

The theatre’s new annual £60,000 commissioning capability has enabled it to commission eight new pieces for the first season of its fiftieth year. Alongside the commissioned and co-produced programme, Ovalhouse will work with three Associate Artists or Companies each year; artists for 2013 will be Nick Field, Shireen Mula and collective Paper Tiger.

These new strands of work represent a deepening of Ovalhouse’s commitment to supporting an alternative diversity of artists to explore form, take risks and create challenging work. The season will also see a world-premiere of Chris Goode and Company’s new production, The Forest and the Field.


Sour Lips – Ovalhouse Downstairs from January 29 to February 16 (Tuesday to Saturday at 7.45pm).

Following the story of Amina Arraf, the blogger known as A Gay Girl In Damascus and the events surrounding the media’s coverage of her kidnapping, Sour Lips fuses fantasy and non-fiction to create its own speculative narrative.

Amina was walking near Fares Al-Khouri Street, Damascus, when three armed men seized her. According to an eyewitness, Amina was bustled into a red Dacia Logan with a bumper sticker of Basel Assad. The men are assumed to be members of the Ba’ath Party militia or one of the security services. Amina’s present location is still unknown.

Presented by Ovalhouse and Paper Tiger and written by Omar El-Khairy, Sour Lips is directed by Carissa Hope Lynch.

Freakoid – Ovalhouse Upstairs from February 19 to March 9 (Tuesday to Saturday at 8pm).

Somewhere out there in the future a woman called Emma and a sentient vacuum cleaner called Hooverdroid have fallen in love. This future-queer love affair brings joy, heartache, hard-drive overload and internment. Against all the odds a biobot-hoover-baby is born. It’s an absolute scandal. Thank goodness all other evidence of Emma and Hooverdroid’s love has been destroyed. Or has it?

This one woman performance with music and filthy language considers eugenics, personhood, memory and the beauty of otherness alongside analogue nerdism, time travel and a plea for love and understanding between all in a LGBT-QWERTY world.

Presented by Ovalhouse, Freakoid is written and performed by Emma Adams, and directed by Sarah Applewhite.

Your Place or Mine? – Ovalhouse Third Space from February 26 to March 2 (8.15pm).

The Turing archive, a treasure chest of histories is being downsized; money is tight and space is precious. But what should be saved? And is it really worth saving anything anyway? Two colleagues risk discarding a few innocent looking documents and erasing a whole past in a mischievous play about forgetting, activism and apathy.

Presented by Ovalhouse, Your Place or Mine? is written and performed by Tim Redfern and David Sheppeard.

The Forest and the Field – Ovalhouse Downstairs from March 6 to March 8 (7.45pm).

This gently seductive, immersive piece of non-fiction storytelling, asks its audience to look at themselves, and to consider what we’re all doing when we meet in a theatre space. Using live demonstrations and video clips, and drawing on a wealth of examples from Shakespeare to O.J. Simpson via John Berger and Bruce Lee, The Forest and the Field creates a space for reflecting on theatre from inside the moment of its happening.

Described as relaxed and informal, yet passionate and provocative, The Forest and the Field finds Chris Goode and Company asking some searching questions about how theatre might change to meet the social and cultural challenges of tomorrow, and how we might change with it.

The Forest and the Field is presented by Chris Goode and Company in association with Ovalhouse.

At the heart of the season Counterculture 50 showcases five new commissions (one for each decade) celebrating the colourful, controversial and clamorous history of the venue and its unparalleled contribution to the UK’s contemporary theatre landscape.

The Act by Thomas Hescott (1960s) – Upstairs from January 29 to February 2 (8pm).

Meet the inverts, with their own inverted language and their own inverted societies, visit their bars and their cruising grounds, ogle at their queer lifestyle and eccentric ways. It is the 1960’s and the final days for a community catapulted into the mainstream, and all because the Church of England believed in the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Crimplene Millionaire by Boogaloo Stu (1970s) – Upstairs from February 5 to February 9 (8pm).

The audience are invited to play the Crimplene Millionaire board game; with a roll of the dice, crimplene-clad light-entertainer Derek Daniels rolls back the years to a world of 1970s glitz, pizazz and razzmatazz. As pieces are moved around the giant board they map out a number of landmark events and cultural cliques.

Amid the chaos of the decade’s political landscape and the rainbow of pop culture heritage, Crimplene Millionaire will scratch the surface to reveal a rich seam of sub-cultural history, with each move on the board eliciting a story, a song, an anecdote or a message.

The Lady’s Not For Walking Like An Egyptian by Mars.tarrab (1980s) – Upstairs from February 12 to February 16 (8pm).

What do you get if you cross all of the words of Margaret Thatcher’s public speeches from the 1980s with all of the words of every top ten hit by a female artist from the 1980s and look at them through the filter of American Tan tights?

Mars.tarrab explode, expand and explore political texts and pop lyrics to ask questions about power and influence, the female voice, the creation of memory and seeing your Dad in tears on election night 1979.

Love on Trial by Bilimankhwe Arts (1990s) – Downstairs from February 19 to February 23 (7.45pm).

Two similar scenarios played out 10,000 miles apart have very different consequences in Bilimankhwe Arts retelling of Love on Trial, which blends Stanley Kenani’s Caine Prize-nominated story of illegal homosexuality in Malawi with the press frenzy surrounding British singer George Michael’s 1998 arrest for “lewd conduct” in a public toilet in Los Angeles.

Kinky by 2HeadedPigeon (2000s) – Downstairs from February 26 to March 2 (7.45pm).

As sex toys seduce the high street and Fifty Shades dominates the bestseller lists, Britain has pried apart the thighs of sexual oppression, and found itself in a brave new kinky world… or has it? Underneath the covers of our new-found liberation, politics is flirting outrageously with our right to a private life. How far should we let the police into our bedrooms? Everybody likes a man in uniform, but only when they’re invited.

Kinky combines 2headedpigeon’s anarchic punk theatre with verbatim accounts of sadomasochists, fetishists and kinksters, to create a sexy cabaret laced with reality.

Ovalhouse’s Co-Directors of Theatre Rebecca Atkinson Lord and Rachel Briscoe commented:

“We wanted a season which would reconnect with the bravery and experimentation that characterise Ovalhouse’s history. The last 50 years have seen enormous shifts in dominant culture – and in how Ovalhouse has worked to ensure that an alternative diversity of artists would be seen and clearly heard on our stages.

“We also want to celebrate a new strand of our work with a series of specially commissioned new pieces which we hope will shine a light on the theatre of the future, while taking inspiration from the past.”

For more information or to book, call the box office on 020 7582 7680 or visit