The market! The lock! The People’s Theatre! Amy Winehouse, Madness and Blur. The British Library! Hampstead Heath! Withnail & I! It’s London’s most iconic borough, and many of its people and stories are well known. But not all of them. And so, to celebrate 30 years resident in Camden, CPT presents ‘The Camden Roar’, a three-week festival of theatre by, for and about the Camden neighbourhood and its people.
Camden People’s Theatre is delighted to announce the return of The Camden Roar – a three-week Festival of all things Camden which will run from June 4th - 22nd 2024 to celebrate the venue’s 30th anniversary. First held in 2019 (to celebrate the 25th year of the theatre) the Camden Roar Festival explores and celebrates the lives and works of Camden residents, past and present.
The festival will be headlined by exciting new play GRILLS. GRILLS is co-produced by Mirrorball and CPT and was commissioned by CPT and Old Diorama in 2022, when a work-in-progress was performed to sell-out audiences. Now developed and revived for a three-week run, GRILLS (an oft-used substitute for “girls” in the lesbian community of 1980s London) is a theatre production that explores the groundbreaking work of the 1980’s Camden Lesbian Centre and Black Lesbian Group. This was the UK's only dedicated lesbian centre and it closed in 1995.
With the records and history of the group archived in Glasgow, the trailblazing effect that the organisation had on the local community has been all but forgotten. Through GRILLS, audiences will discover the UK's only dedicated lesbian centre through archives, imagined relationships, real protests, and the palpable queer joy unearthed from found artefacts. GRILLS is a euphoric reimagining of Camden's Queer history. It asks: What happens when our cultural memory is shelved over 300 miles away? How do we truly progress when we struggle to connect with our elders? And what really happened at ‘Camden Dykes Get Your Claws Out’? It asks: what is archived, how does access to social histories affect progress & can we imagine a future where LGBTQIA+ & BIPOC voices are truly seen & heard?
Alongside the public performance, an interactive archive installation (location and further details to be announced) will run concurrently, sharing existing CLCBLG archive items with Paula Akpan & Jade Bentil’s current Black Queer Archive. Via talks, displays, videos & workshops, participants will be invited to contribute to the BQA.
CPT’s artistic director Brian Logan says: “With our friends at ODAC, we’ve been delighted to support the creation of this extraordinary theatre show, which unearths a fascinating and timely Camden social history – and dramatises that process of (re)discovery. At a time when queer spaces are under critical pressure for survival, what better story to tell than this one – which invites reflection on a different period in queer consciousness, and asks searching questions about history, solidarity and legacy. And has great fun doing so. We couldn’t have dreamed of a better headliner for ‘The Camden Roar’, and we can’t wait to share it with our audiences.”
With GRILLS headlining the festival, Camden People's Theatre is now looking for performances, shows and stories about Camden, that may be especially appreciated by Camden audiences. CPT particularly welcomes projects created by artists with meaningful Camden connections. Proposals can be for work that is finished and performance-ready by June 2024 alongside works-in-progress and ‘scratch’ performances. The festival will be guest curated by CPT's Local Steering Group and supported by CPT’s artistic director Brian Logan.
Brian Logan says: “After the success of the inaugural ‘Camden Roar’ for our 25th anniversary in 2019, we just couldn’t imagine a thirtieth birthday year without a new edition of the festival. It’s a great opportunity for us to work closely with local residents and friends to celebrate our corner of London – the amazing things that have happened here, all the remarkable lives being led just beyond out front door.
We’ve spent almost two years supporting Mirrorball to develop the really valuable and entertaining Grills, and can’t wait to share it with audiences. We’ve got a handful of other surprise projects up our sleeve, and are calling out now for more proposals to populate these three weeks with the best and boldest Camden-focused theatre we can find. Let the party commence!”
While this is primarily a theatre festival, CPT is always happy to consider proposals for standup comedy, music and cabaret where a strong Camden focus is demonstrated.