This Christmas, Camden People’s Theatre will host its first ever Christmas commission with Sh!t Actually (3 – 21 Dec), a playfully sideways look at Sh!t Theatre’s guilty pleasure: the much-loved (and definitely problematic) festive favourite Love Actually. Co-commissioned with HOME Manchester, Sh!t Actually is a live action, two-woman reimagining of one of the most contentious Christmas films of all time. Fusing live songs with queer love stories in a version that gives women, and not just Emma Thompson, actual lines to ask if in 2019 we can still love it, actually. Alongside Sh!t Actually, Camden People’s Theatre’s alternative Christmas offering includes SheGoat’s The Undefinable (10 – 21 Dec), exploring unconventional relationships and celebrating the unusual and underrepresented qualities of love.
As Camden People’s Theatre continue to celebrate their 25th year, this Autumn a new festival Handle With Care (22 Oct – 9 Nov) asks if Generation Snowflake is as hyper-sensitive - and terrified of giving offence - as we've been told. Over three weeks, and headlined by EUROTRASH’s new show Trigger Warning (22 Oct – 9 Nov), the UK’s most exciting theatremakers strike out beyond their safe spaces to explore this brave (or should that be timid?) new world. Presented by two charming hosts, Trigger Warning is a pre-show disclaimer to a show you may never see, an absurdist comedy, and the latest CPT Home Run commission, exploring the politics behind safe spaces and the culture of offence. From self-help seminar Nothing Special (22 – 26 Oct), to Atilla Theatre’s I, Incel, (1 – 2 Nov), Handle With Care asks where does healthy self-assertion end – and entitlement begin.
Meanwhile, returning artists include CPT veteran and queer megastar Scottee who directs the premiere of If You Love Me This Might Hurt (17 – 19 Oct) by Matty May, previously presented as part of the Come As You Are UK Tour, as well as returning performances from Chris Goode, Hannah Maxwell and LaJohn Joseph. Elsewhere, Vic Llewellyn will present A Little Death, a one man show about mass hysteria featuring original songs by Kid Carpet.
Following in the footsteps of the hugely popular The Camden Roar festival earlier this year, the creators of the acclaimed High Rise eState of Mind Beats & Elements’ will continue their six-month project with residents of the Regent’s Park area, as part of borough-wide arts programme Camden Alive.
Executive Director Kaya Stanley-Money said "We’re halfway through our 25th anniversary celebrations and what a year it’s been! Our autumn season has a lot to live up to. We think we’ve got a stellar lineup of CPT favourites, brand new voices and – for the first time ever – a Christmas double-bill to blow your festive socks off. We’re excited to be offering our audiences these juicy seasonal treats – but that doesn't mean we're shying away from the politics. Shows in this season challenge the notion of British identity, explore queer experience past and present, shine a spotlight on homelessness, and interrogate the human impact of our addiction to next-day-delivery. And then there's those brand new festive shows, from two of the UK's most ground-breaking theatre-making duos – featuring music, mayhem and a whole lot of love.”
Founded 25 years ago, Camden People’s Theatre is one of Britain’s most influential studio theatres. Its mission is to champion different ways of thinking about the world by supporting emerging artists making adventurous theatre – particularly about issues that matter to people now. Its work is rooted in the communities of Camden and London. Through it, they celebrate the bold, the spirited and the unconventional.
Trigger Warning Tues 22 Oct – Sat 9 Nov, 7.15pm
EUROTRASH £12/10 (conc.)
Imagine Ryanair staging Beckett on a falling plane. Presented by two charming hosts, Trigger Warning is a pre-show disclaimer to a show you may never see. A jet-black absurdist comedy exploring the politics behind safe spaces and the culture of offence, pushing it to its logical breaking point and freewheeling along the tightrope between dance, clown, text and theatre. Created by EUROTRASH and developed with UCL Culture, Young Vic, Dare Festival, Shoreditch Town Hall. Recipient of The Jerwood Home Run Award.
Nothing Special Tues 22– Sat 26 Oct, 9pm
TomYumSim £12/10 (conc.)
Spe-cial| ‘speSHel | adjective | better, greater, or otherwise different from what is usual. Sometimes it feels like every young person is becoming an entrepreneur, launching a start-up or crowdfunding an art installation – and it makes me feel like I’m failing” – Jesus. Ever wanted to build your own monumental legacy? Lead by CEO of The Academy for Gifted Individuals, Nothing Special is an interactive self-help seminar where audiences are given the tools to unlock their true potential as “gifted individuals”. Through the I Made It Seminar, Othella (Tom Halls) teaches the fundamentals to becoming your Special self; how to elevate your elevator pitch, how to grow your brain with banana, how to catapult your online profile through insta-masturbation and how to turn your crap into innovation. Throughout the workshop we meet Chlorine (Simone French) – an aspiring millennial, raised with an inflated ego and unbounded possibility. She’s a TED∞ Fellow at the top of her class, desperate to impress. Nothing Special is a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek satire that pokes fun at the self-obsessed and narcissistic psyches of Generation Y, taking extremely talented people to average heights to save them from a lifetime of disappointment.
Big Bang: Handle with Care #1 Mon 28 Oct, 7.30pm
Various artists £12/10 (conc.)
The first of two explosive nights of work-in-progress exploring the themes of Handle with Care.
But I’m A… Tue 29 Oct, 9pm
Free School Lunch £12/10 (conc.)
Summer camp is a safe space. Here at camp PUSHY you can get away from the real world and leave your baggage behind - as long as you tick all the boxes neatly and within the lines provided. “But I'm A... is a devised show based on our experiences with having to navigate our chosen political identities, and those identities assigned to us by the game of identity politics.”
Making Fatiha Tue 30 Oct, 9pm
Fatiha El-Ghorri and Toby Clarke £12/10 (conc.)
Fatiha and Toby have only met once after he saw her perform her stand-up comedy routine in Luton back in March 2019. They will only meet again in front of a live audience where Toby will have just 60 minutes to pitch a play to Hackney-born Fatiha about her Faith and journey to becoming an unconventional comedian, without offending her. Fusing text, Stand Up, puppetry, dance & music, Making Fatiha will challenge our understanding of truth onstage as well explore that fine thread between funny and offensive.
Mighty Thu 31 Oct, 9pm
Jack AG Britton £12/10 (conc.)
Jack AG Britton presents Mighty; a TED-talk-meets-theatre show that combines comedy, live music and spoken word to ask the big (or little) question: should we be taking Heightism more seriously? Often whimsical, sometimes woeful, Mighty delves into masculinity, body image and mental health in a documentary performance that could just about make it onto the best rides at Alton Towers.
I, Incel Fri 1 – Sat 2 Nov, 9pm
Atilla Theatre £12/10 (conc.)
Self-identifying 'Incels' (involuntary celibates), an online subculture mostly consisting of white, male heterosexuals, have been responsible for at least four mass murders in North America. The neck bearded online gamer who lives in his mother’s basement stereotype is certainly at play here, but incels have become something much more dangerous. Whether you’re a Chad, a Stacy or a ‘nice guy’™ who has black pilled himself so far into his fedora that you cannot see a way out, I, Incel offers an insight into this part of the manosphere which shouldn’t be ignored.
Exploitation Sun 3 Nov, 5.30pm
Venice As A Dolphin £8 (work-in-progress)
Drawing on the Scandinavian folk narrative that inspired ‘The Virigin Spring’ and ‘The Last House on the Left’, Exploitation revisits this bogeyman nightmare for our times and asks what it means to go too far and not be able to find your way back.
In)Tolerant: An Evening With a Bigot Sun 3 Nov, 7.15pm
Unshaded Arts £8 (work-in-progress)
(In)Tolerant is a new performance piece specifically developed for the ‘Handle With Care’ festival, that addresses the fine line between tolerance and bigotry, scrutinising the negative repercussions of freedom of speech within our reactive social media culture.
Big Bang: Handle with Care #2 Mon 4 Nov, 7.30pm
Various artists £12/10 (conc.)
The second of two explosive nights of work-in-progress exploring the themes of Handle with Care.
YES NO BLACK WHITE Tue 5 – Wed 6 Nov, 9pm
Pablo Pakula £12/10 (conc.)
This new audio-visual live art piece interrogates the nature of offence. What offends us? How? And why? Following the structure of a sonata and choreographed to five pieces by Britsh composer Anna Meredith, YES NO BLACK WHITE will allow you to get to know your deepest personal offense-taking mechanisms.
OUTRAGE!! Thu 7 Nov, 9pm
Adam Foster £8 (work-in-progress)
When his show is forced to close amid a row about political correctness, Punch & Judy Professor Brian Britten looks for solidarity online; falling headfirst into an online rabbit hole of the alt-right before being spewed out – bile drenched – the other side. Adam Foster’s new show is a blistering polemic interrogating viral offence-taking and performative wokeness amid a creeping culture of conformism.
Bullshit Fri 8 Nov, 9pm
Len & Jo & Freya £8 (work-in-progress)
Len and Jo are angry. They’re angry about the direction this country has gone in. They’re angry about the direction Europe has gone in. Hell – they’re angry about the direction the world is spinning. Jo and Len invite you to participate in this interactive show and hash out we really believe in. This is an immediate, urgent emergency. A burning show about trust, power and collective rage. Whoever you are, this is a show for you.
Elsewhere Sat 9 Nov, 9pm
Haylin Cai £8 (work-in-progress)
Shuyan has decidophobia—fear of making decisions, especially the big ones relating to her future. As a recent graduate, she is now faced with the choice of working or continuing to a Master’s degree. Her parents think a decision should be simple, or at least she just needs to carry on. They keep saying-- time is ticking, choosing to stop while everyone’s running is a journey with no return. But Shuyan fled away. She knows everything that she doesn’t want, and one of them is staying home. Will she finally have the space to ask the big questions? Or is there something else about home she needs to find out?
Sh!t Actually Tue 3 – Sat 21 December, 7.15pm (not Sundays & Mondays)
Sh!t Theatre £15/ £10 (conc.)
A two-woman 100% faithful, word-by-word* remake of the Christmas film we all hate to love: Love Actually. Love Actually is Sh!t Actually. The 'rising stars of performance art' (Telegraph) Rebecca Biscuit and Louise Mothersole take on their hardest roles yet. All the roles. With live songs, queer love stories, and politics questioned by women with actual lines - come shout-along, sing-along, dance-along, cry-along, drink-along to this adults-only celebration of Christmas Actually. From the makers of cult hits DollyWould and Sing-a-long-A-Muppet Christmas Carol (Time Out Top 12 Xmas Shows of 2018; “Justifiably much loved & brilliant” This Week London) * Just kidding.
The Undefinable Tue 10 – Sat 21 December, 9pm (not including Sundays and Mondays)
She Goat £12/10 (conc.)
Zany live radio gig-theatre exploring unconventional relationships and celebrating the unusual and underrepresented qualities of love. Two dudes. Well, kind of dudes. A garage studio. A late night broadcast. Time slips between noughties love-pop, 70s folk fever and 18th century French philosophy. The dudes slip between instruments. Everything gets tangled. Our kind of love is tangled and slippery. Love in the in-between. Love that doesn’t have language yet. This is The Undefinable. Clear the decks for historical wigs, irreverent nudity, reckless dancing, and a whole lot of coffee – as we embark on a queer-platonic mix-tape into the unknown future and forgotten past of doing love differently.