Performing Arts and Performance Art in London – Spring/Summer Guide

Spring is here with some of London’s most exciting opportunities for performing arts and performance art.

V&A Performance Festival

One of our favourite museums (check out our video here), the V&A, is back with its annual Performance Festival celebrating theatre and performance. From 16-24 April, with many events throughout the day. On the 22nd Performance is also the theme of its Friday Late, where the museum welcomes visitors for late hour fun and pop up performances. On Saturday, the 23 April, we will be there to check out Hand in Glove: a performed exhibition which promises over 300 costumes and accessories by award winning designers, linking some of the V&A’s collection most prized objects.
Next up, from 30 May – 5 June is Block Universe, London’s international festival of Performance Art.

Our picks are Alexis Blake, performing at the British Museum and Marten Spagnberg, the bad boy of live arts/dance, performing at the ICA.

Alexis’s piece is a new work co-commisioned by the Delfina Foundation, which investigates Diana Watt’s view of the ideal image of the body.

In 1914, Diana Watts, one of the first female jujitsu instructors in the Western world and a leading creator of the physical culture movement, wrote and published the book, The Renaissance of the Greek Ideal. In the book, Watts presents a system of callisthenic exercises, which she created based off antique Greek sculptures. To Watts, the Greeks were physically superior to any other culture and time before, and so she used a series of sculptures to demonstrate the movements made before and after the sculpture’s pose, to demonstrate principles of movement and balance through mathematics, psychology, philosophy, sculpture and spirituality.

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Then, off to LIFT – London International Festival of Theatre.

LIFT was founded in 1981, and have always been engaged with highly political and experimental works. In its first edition it presented Macunaima, by Antunes Filho. The work was presented in the UK while Brazil was still living its military dictatorship. Antunes Filho is part of the first generation of theatre directors originating from the Brazilian Theatre of Comedy. Macunaima is considered the first Brazilian work entirely authorial in terms of dramaturgy and staging. LIFT’s programme still carries this political approach.

Below are some of our suggestions:

Taylor Mac at the Hackney Empire

Named Time Out New York’s best cabaret performer of 2012 and a future theatre legend, Taylor Mac creates an immersive experience with his 24-Decade History of Popular Music. In which he tells /sings the American History through a queer lens.

Mine Field at the Royal Court Theatre

Argentinian director Lola Arias takes on the challenge to revisit the complex British – Argentinian relationship of the Falkland Islands. “This collaboratively created new work merges theatre and film to blur the lines between truth and fiction, on a stage 8,000 miles from their remembered battlefield”. Not for the ones looking for a light night at the theatre and highly important during times of xenophobia.

The Hamilton Complex at the Unicorn Theatre

Performed by 13 girls aged 13 and a body builder, HETPALEIS, a Belgium ensemble for young people, The Hamilton Complex explores how our identity is determined and asks questions about growing up, conforming and maintaining your individuality. It is often interesting to see new theatre performed by teenagers, letting them voice their own concerns with society. The Unicorn Theatre is a famous venue for theatre for family audiences, which can often be more directed to parents then to kids.

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We hope you enjoy what London has to offer on the coming months!