The Playground has been working hard throughout the COVID-19 crisis, renewing its commitment to the local community by running a thriving programme of play readings, delivering 7500 meals to local people in need and offering use of the space to the theatre community for developing new ways of working. Now that Government guidelines allow indoor performances for audiences once again, The Playground Theatre has prepared a short season of shows with one and two person casts and socially distanced seating which will open this month.
First up, character comedians Marina and Maddy bring The Siblinginging Returns (17-19 September), absurd comedy filled with some of the best bits of their previous sell-out runs, as well as brand new material developed after months in lockdown with only each other for company.
In collaboration with opera festival Tête a Tête and The Cockpit Theatre, next up is a double bill drawn from the festival’s programme of new works (21-23 September). Bread and Circuses features star soprano Camilla Kerslake and has been described as a mash-up between World Wrestling Entertainment, verismo opera, and 1990s-style video-gaming. The evening will be completed by The CroC in which opera, gospel, magical elixirs, profanity and high art with low morals are woven together in a tale about the Marquis de Sade.
From 25-27 September, Olivier nominee Gerard Logan will take to the stage in Gareth Armstrong’s dramatisation of Oscar Wilde’s letter to his lover from gaol in Wilde Without The Boy.
Returning to opera, Blue Electric (27-31October) is based on Alba Arikha's acclaimed memoir Major/Minor and will be directed by the internationally renowned Orpha Phelan, who has won awards for her work in opera in both the Netherlands and Denmark and whose work in in Britain includes the UK premiere of Wagner Dream at the Barbican. For this stage adaptation, Alba worked with composer Tom Smail to tell the story of a young girl in Paris and of her relationship with her father, who never talks about his experiences of the Holocaust.
In recent weeks The Playground has reaffirmed its ongoing commitment to artist development and is working with a range of companies and individuals, both known and new to the venue, offering space and other support to enable live performances to restart.
Co-Artistic Director Anthony Biggs said “It is wonderful to be reopening The Playground. The past few months have been very challenging for us and our community, and we can’t wait to welcome our audiences back through our doors. During lockdown we have been doing a huge amount of development and outreach work online, but nothing beats the feeling of live theatre.”
The Playground Theatre is an off-West End theatre dedicated to nurturing new talent and staging an international programme of shows. Led by co-Artistic Directors Peter Tate and Anthony Biggs, this unique space is in a former bus depot located on Latimer Road W10. Its name is intended as an invitation to theatre makers and performers to come and play, and to encourage bold experimentation with new works for the stage. Since it opened, The Playground Theatre has cultivated relationships with international companies and practitioners. To date, this has seen the venue work with leading creatives from Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Japan and beyond.
The Playground Theatre has taken various steps to ensure the health and safety of those visiting the space. Hygiene is maintained to a high standard with frequent antibacterial surface cleaning, plus regular commercial grade fogging. To comply with Covid-19 Social Distancing guidelines, tickets to events are only available in seating clusters. All patrons are asked to bring and wear a mask in the theatre or purchase one from the box office. If anyone attending a performance displays signs of being unwell or receives a temperature test that indicates they may be affected by Covid19 the venue reserves the right to refuse admission in the interests of the health and safety of all patrons in the theatre.
Companies interested in developing work at The Playground should email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Playground Theatre, Latimer Road, London W10 6RQ
@PlaygroundW10 | https://theplaygroundtheatre.london
17 September – 27 October 2020
The Playground Theatre, Latimer Road, London W10 6RQ
7.30pm and 2.30pm Sunday matinees
2 seats - £30 | 4 seats - £60 | 5 seats - £75
All shows suitable for adult audiences only
Siblings: The Siblinginging Returns 17 – 19 September, 7.30pm
After three consecutive sell-out seasons, character comedians and IRL sisters Marina (OFFIE award winner 2020) & Maddy (went to clown school, has no awards) have been in hiding because Covid cancelled comedy. Watch as they attempt to crawl out of isolation onto the stage for the very first time since lockdown forced them to live alone together. With brand new sketches and wild new characters, these hot twins will take you on a raucous hour of outrageousness (we are not twins but can be for casting purposes).
Opera Double Bill: Bread and Circuses and The CroC 21 – 23 September, 7.30pm
Bread and Circuses: an opera in two acts and a wrestling show. Set in the world of professional wrestling, the show explores ‘Kayfabe’: when the rivalries and relationships between wrestlers are staged as real. Imagine a mash-up between World Wrestling Entertainment with verismo opera Pagliacci and retro videogaming. The show’s sound world is a fusion of opera, musical theatre, and 90s electronica. With music direction by Mark Johnson, score by Liam Wade and libretto by Charles Ogilvie. Surreal, daring and pacey, the energy and smack of Bread and Circuses takes no prisoners.
The CroC: the Marquis de Sade, threatened with death and torture from Marie Antoinette, is compelled to undertake a quest to regain his lost libido. Making Use of opera, gospel, magical elixirs, profanity, irreverence and high art with low morals, the show’s creator Darren Berry weaves an elaborate, hallucinatory, cautionary tale. The ‘Covid’ CroC will differ from a regular performance as it intermingles live singing and acting alongside a pre-recorded film of the show and will be using only two singers playing multiple roles, and a narrator to tell the story.
Wilde Without The Boy 25 – 27 Sept, 7.30pm (Sun matinee 2.30pm)
Wilde Without The Boy is Gareth Armstrong’s brilliant dramatisation of ‘De Profundis’, Oscar Wilde’s searing letter to his lover, written from his Reading Gaol cell. The piece is a window into the bruised soul of a literary genius. Wilde’s poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol narrates the execution of Charles Thomas Wooldridge who was convicted of murdering his wife. It is underscored by a beautiful, specially commissioned score by the award-winning composer, Simon Slater.
Blue Electric 27 – 31 October, 7.30pm
Blue Electric is an opera based on Alba Arikha's acclaimed memoir Major/Minor. It is the story of an adolescent in Paris trying to find her own identity against the backdrop of her artistic father's Holocaust-driven demons. It has been translated into three languages, shortlisted for a literary prize and is the subject of a German/French documentary for Arte TV. The opera, written by composer Tom Smail (the second collaboration with Alba), will focus on particular scenes from the book - parties and cafés in 1980's Paris, arguments between father and daughter, and how the traumatic shadow of the past affects a girl’s transition to womanhood. Though not an opera about the Holocaust, it will not shy away from reminding us of its legacy.