South London’s Battersea Arts Centre is one of the most exciting arts venues in the city. No contest.
For the past nine months the entirety of the Grade II listed building has been taken over by Punchdrunk for their immersive staging of The Masque Of The Red Death, and at the same time they’ve also been showing new work in the small Studio 68 space.
Well now the velvet curtains have finally been taken down, the feathers, pearls and perfume bottles stowed in boxes and the building de-Red Deathed in order to make way for a new programme of inventive and boundary-shifting theatre. First up is BURST, billed as a ‘festival of theatre, music and play.’
From 8 to 24 May the BAC will play host to an eclectic mix of work from thirty different companies. The performances will take place throughout the building, and include Smile Off Your Face, a performance piece where participants are bound, blindfolded and seated in wheelchairs; Goat Island’s energetically choreographed The Lastmaker; Ann Liv Young’s Solo a loud, explosive and messy spectacle from New York; an autobiographical piece by Adrian Howells taking place in 14 separate places within the building and Doris Uhlich’s Und, a Viennese dance piece featuring a troupe of amateur performers aged between 58 and 86 years old.
As well as this, the festival will include a number of the BAC’s excellent scratch events, chances to see new work in development, not to mention the opportunity to partake of some circus jazz.
The future of the venue, which was only recently jeopardized by proposed funding cuts by Wandsworth Council is now secure and a 125 year lease has just been signed on the building. Artistic directors David Jubb and David Micklem promise further playground events (of which Masque was the first) that will involve the entire building. They also have plans to create Home, a residential project where artists and theatre practitioners can gather in a unique creative community.