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Kafka-ish: Kafka @Finborough

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In offering proof that Kafka is everything to everyone - writer-performer Jack Klaff plays various roles, including the man himself in what is a part tour, part immersion and part legend of Franz Kafka. He is a writer who achieved fame after his life was cut short due to succumbing to tuberculosis at the age of forty. He is probably better known for his reputation and the Kafkaesque style attributed to his writing than his life. But after this piece, you’re left curious to learn more about the man and his works. And that has to be the best theatrical tribute you could give a writer, even for a writer who stipulated that his works be destroyed upon his death. It’s currently playing at the Finborough Theatre . Franz Kafka was born in Prague in 1883. In 1901, he was admitted to a university and began studying law. While studying, he met Max Brod, who would become his best friend and eventual literary executor. Brod would posthumously publish many of his works and writings. Kafka’s life co

Previews: The Elephant Song @ParkTheatre

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On Monday evening, I was to cover a mystery thriller, The Elephant Song. Instead, I was uncovering the mysteries of the London Underground, having found several lines out of action and an emergency evacuation. Only the London Underground would mess with my mind for the evening. But for those who manage to navigate the traffic and public transport (or better yet, can walk or cycle there), it’s currently playing at the Park Theatre.  The Elephant Song is a Canadian play by Nicolas Billon. It premiered in 2002 and has had performances around the world. There’s also a film adaptation which is available to stream. But this is the first time it has premiered in the UK.  Its premise is hospital director Dr Greenberg (Jon Osbaldeston) is questioning a disturbed patient Michael (Gwithian Evans), about a missing psychiatrist. Against the advice of colleagues, he continues the questioning to find out what happened to his colleague. The questioning leads to Michael’s accounts of elephants, opera a

Previews on Power: Truth to Power Cafe

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Truth To Power Cafe is a part digital and live performance event that’s coming to Huddersfield and South Norwood in London later this month. Using memories, poetry, images and music, it takes stories from local people at each location, asking the question who has power over you and what do you want to say to them?’ Be it parents, leaders or a bossy partner. It’s a chance to tell them the truth for once. The concept is a means of conflict resolution and a way of saying something to those in a position of trust or authority who may not want to hear it. Created by Jeremy Goldstein, his experiences frame the start of each performance. He uses poetry, music and performance to talk about his struggles with his father before he invites others to come forward and share their experiences.  Truth to Power Cafe is written and performed by Jeremy Goldstein with Henry Woolf. The event has completed a run as part of Rotherham’s Children’s Capital of Culture Launch. It heads to Lawrence Batley Theatr

Previews: Public Domain @PublicDomainWE

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As theatres tentatively reopen (albeit under restrictions), several short runs appear on the West End, showcasing performers and new works. One of these is Public Domain . After a digital debut at Southwark Playhouse last year, the musical about the words of Vloggers, Instagram influences and other social media hangers-on get a live premiere in the West End this week.  Written and performed by Francesca Forristal and Jordan Paul Clarke, the musical comic musical follows two teenage influencers and ‘footage’  inside the Facebook freak show otherwise known as Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan.  ‘Black Mirror’ but set to music and the real thing. Or is it?? ‘Public Domain’ will perform for five performances only from 27 – 30 May 2021 at the Vaudeville theatre. There are COVID-19 Secure guidelines for social distancing. You can expect hand sanitation, face coverings and track and trace, contactless tickets, temperature testing. Amusing disinformation set to music is likely too. 

Previews: Danelaw @ORLTheatre

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Written fifteen years ago as an absurdist comedy, a portrayal of an attempt by a far-right group to set up a white-supremacist state in East Anglia could today be seen more like a documentary of today’s troubling times. But there is nothing like a funny and timely reminder of the deadly threat that far-right groups still pose to this country.   Partially inspired by the neo-Nazi group Combat 18’s attempts to set up such a homeland in the 1990s, it follows an MI6 agent’s attempt to infiltrate the group.  But a funny thing happens on the way to set up a white-supremacist enclave as a gruesome murder is committed on some waste ground in Harlow. Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day either. But Peter Hamilton’s play, Danelaw is currently playing at the Old Red Lion Theatre until 5 October. See it and laugh nervously... 

Things to see: The Dark @Ovalhouse

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The Dark is Nick Makoha's retelling of an experience he tries to remember a forgotten journey. Fragments slowly come to light. It’s nighttime, November 1978. He’s four years old. Holding his mother’s hand they’re leaving Kampala buying safe passage. The journey of a young boy and his mother escaping a divided country under a brutal dictatorship is at the heart of this story. Writer and performer Nick Makoha is a poet, playwright, performer, activist and mentor. He’s also the winner of the 2015 Brunel African Poetry Prize. The piece is currently playing at The Ovalhouse Theatre until 1 December.

Talks preview: Preservation during conflict @WorldMonuments

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As part of a series of talks about heritage in conflict zones, on Tuesday 16 May at the Royal Geographic Society World Monuments Fund Britain presents Zaki Aslan, Director of ICCROM-ATHAR - an international body that works to conserve cultural heritage in the Middle East. Zaki Aslan will provide significant insight into the state of heritage in the region and discuss how the world’s nations could help more with conservation. The evening will be introduced by Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage at DCMS. This event follows the 2015 inaugural talk World Monument Fund talk in which Professor Maamoun Abdulkarim, the Director-General of Syrian Antiquities, visited the UK for the first time. With the recent news that Palmyra in Syria has just been freed from ISIS for a second time, Maamoun Abdulkarim will join the lecture by video to give us the very latest position on his country’s besieged cultural heritage. Conflict continues to dominate the Middle East and we r

Previewing the graduates: Boys @LostTheatre

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Ella Hickson’s acclaimed dark comedy about suicide and the worth of a university education, Boys, comes to the Lost Theatre , Stockwell this week. It’s a hot summer night. Benny and his mates are due to leave their five bedroom flat in the morning. University is over. Exams are over. They drink to the end of an era. But is life over as well? Nostalgia soon turns to soul-searching and division. Soon everyone’s dirty laundry and an awful lot of bin bags are aired for one last time. This is a new revival of the play last seen at Soho Theatre. It is directed by James Thacker who is associate director with the company and runs from Wednesday to Saturday.

Previewing: The Mirror Never Lies @cockpittheatre

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Coming up next week for one week at the Cockpit Theatre is The Mirror Never Lies . The musical is returning to London after a one-off concert performance at RADA. It’s based on Barbara Pym’s novel, The Sweet Dove Died and will take you back to swinging 1960s London. Secret loves, tangled relationships with a dramatic score combine to tell the story of a woman of a certain age who is fiercely resisting the changes all around her. Director and playwright Joe Giuffre has written Glamorous Nights, based on the life and music of Ivor Novello, followed by The Grifters and The Mirror Never Lies. Composer of film and theatre, Juan Iglesias has created film scores original music for a diverse range of movies, theatre and media. In the UK, he is a regular collaborator with film director James Bushe and playwright Eddie Coleman. The Mirror Never Lies is at the Cockpit Theatre from 14 November to 18 November only. You can sample the music in advance .

Previewing the slags: Confessional @swkplay

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Confessional is in until 29 October at Southwark Playhouse . It’s an immersive production of an overlooked Tennessee Williams play that transplants the action to Southend on the Essex Coast. The experience is the thing here where the audience joins the cast in a pub (an authentic looking boozer recreated in The Little at Southwark Playhouse) and the action kicks off all around you. The piece centres around Leona Dawson (Lizzie Stanton). She is getting her act together after discovering her layabout boyfriend (Gavin Brocker) has been cheating on her with her mentally ill best friend. And it just happens to be the anniversary of her younger brother’s death. When a couple of gay men come into the bar - one who looks a bit like her dead brother -  things start to get to breaking point. Amid all the drinking and rough talk it all starts to get a bit messy. You know where things are heading. All hell threatens to break loose. And it eventually does.

Reminder to get writing: The Adrian Pagan Award 2016

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The Adrian Pagan award is back for a third year. If you think you’ve got what it takes to address the state of the nation rather than reading random blogs on the interwebs, then this might be for you. The King’s Head are looking for directors, producers and creative teams to pitch plays that capture the current mood in an exciting, thought-provoking and entertaining way. Other than that, anything goes - new writing, revivals and musicals... They will take anything that pokes them the right way. The winning company will receive a full King’s Head production budget to produce their show at the venue. Applications are open until 31 July. To enter, you need to download an application from the King’s Head website and it by the deadline.

Previews: It curtains with Ron Arad’s Curtain Call this summer

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Bloomberg Summer at The Roundhouse returns for its fifth year this August with Curtain Call by architect and designer Ron Arad. It is a return performance of this piece after its original outing in 2011. This time around Arad will reinvent the curtain experience by inviting new collaborators to work with him on the 360° immersive installation, alongside returning artists from 2011. The work will be showcased at the Roundhouse from 6 – 29 August 2016.

Smoking previews: Aaron Kasmin, Lucky Strike @sims_reed

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Opening Sims Reed Gallery’s 2016 programme is an exhibition of chalk pencil drawings by artist Aaron Yasmin. Known for his abstract paintings and elegant colour pencil drawings, in Lucky Strike Yasmin takes inspiration from American cultural history to create a series of striking images. Taking inspiration from Lion Match Company’s mid-twentieth century feature matchbooks, these drawings reflect the rise of America’s consumer culture and how small matchbooks were used as tools to influence purchasing habits. The drawings evoke a glitzy bygone era... When smoking was so glamorous.

Art Previews: Hugh Beattie's London Ancient and Modern @jhlbeattie @lagalleria

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Opening this week at the Royal Opera Arcade off Pall mall is Hugh Beattie's exhibition called London: Ancient and Modern. The exhibition brings together 30 new paintings by artist Hugh Beattie depicting views of London’s skyline which we do not normally see.  The works contrast the heritage of London and the new architecture of glass. Over 70% of the City of London’s buildings have been erected since the millennium. In Beattie’s canvases, Early Medieval buildings share the cityscape with towering Modernist flats.

Previews and long runs: #f_ckingmen #boysareback @kingsheadthtr

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It's once, twice, three times the er charm(?) at the Kings Head Theatre this Christmas when the ever popular play F*cking Men. The play already has been extended since starting last summer and enters its third month. This time there the production will be streamlined with three actors playing all ten roles... While that sounds exhausting there potentially is a touring future for the show. Check out details at the theatre's website . The play that dare not print its entire name runs through to 9 January.

It's coming on Christmas previews: Theatrefullstop Presents... The Christmas Wishlist...

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Baubles up in shops, tinsel on sale in the supermarkets and dirty old men looking at little girls through telescopes, are tell tale signs it is coming on Christmas. Theatrefullstop have decided there’s no better way to celebrate than to head down to The Yard Sunday 13 December and treat yourself to a host of theatrical... Treats. Theatrefullstop Presents... The Christmas Wishlist sees eight acts perform a variety of circus, physical theatre, comedy and monologues. This year's acts include: spoken word artist and writer Ese Ighorae who will present an excerpt from her latest play Olu; Lulu, a circus sex tragedy told with knives; and emerging burlesque talent Cici Noir. Further information about all other unique and diverse artists appearing throughout this exciting evening can be found on their site ...

Heads up: previewing La Soireé @lasoireelive

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Returning for a sixth season in London, the little show with a big heart La Soirée is back at the Spiegeltent at the Southbank Centre . The show is currently in previews and I recently caught up with some of the performers during a lunchtime break.

Previews: Posters, pens and headphones @theotherartfair

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Non Zero One are presenting a work at The Other Art Fair from 15th – 18th October.  They will be performing  Untitled (audio with pen) which is an audio-based piece. Participants are told nothing of what they are going to do. Instead are asked when queuing for the fair whether they are curious... They are then drawn slowly in, until it is too late to turn back, having to continually question how far they want to involve themselves and being encouraged to go beyond the traditional weird stuff set for both theatre and art fairs. Hmmmm sounds like being a writer for theatre and the arts in the social media scene…

Silly things to preview impudently: Emma in the square...

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To celebrate the bi-­centenary of its publication, the Friends of Brunswick Square present Emma200 . Not to be confused for what is written on those tart cards you will also find in phone boxes nearby, it is a weekend festival of talks, performances, exhibitions in the leafy surroundings of Brunswick Square.

Previews: The Dreamers @St_JamesTheatre

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The St James Theatre is giving a new piece of musical theatre its London debut from 30 June. Commemorating 100 years since the Battle of Gallipoli, Runner Bean Productions is presenting The Dreamers. With original words and music by James Beeny and Gina Georgio, this new musical tells the true story of war hero Captain David ‘Reggie’ Salomons who led his regiment Third Field Company to Gallipoli in 1915. Set during 1914-15, The Dreamers is based on the true story of Captain Reggie Salomons and tells the story of the outbreak of the First World War through the eyes of the soldiers and the families that they left behind.

Previews of a different animal: Bradley Cooper in The Elephant Man

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Currently enjoying a popular run on Broadway, Scott Ellis’ acclaimed production of The Elephant Man will transfer to London with the US cast starring Bradley Cooper (in various states of dress and undress), Patricia Clarkson and Alessandro Nivola this spring.