Helicopters, Bacchae, and, yes, Shakespeare: Theatre and Performance at the London 2012 Festival...
Festival of Chaos - The Bacchae
18 May to 30 June
The Royal and Derngate, Northampton
Invoking the spirit of Eris is this festival, led by striking new versions of three famed but diverse plays: Federico Garcia Lorca's depiction of a family at war, Blood Wedding (1933), Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler (1890) and Euripides' Greek tragedy The Bacchae. The latter seems most du jour, written as it was a mere 300-odd years after the first ancient Games (though its author wasn't a fan, offering perhaps the first Olympics critique). It depicts a city built on money and greed (contemporary London, anyone?), in which an underground movement is emerging, unleashed by Dionysus, whose love of a party, and ecstasy in general, riotously subverts oppressive convention.
For more information and to book tickets, click here.
26 June to 8 July
Common convention has it that Shakespeare wrote about heartbreak and its accompanying anguish better than most. This selection of scenes from some of his most famous plays - Hamlet, Othello and Romeo and Juliet - is likely to be intense to say the least. That it's being performed by a cast of teenagers should only add to that. Read more here.
What You Will: Pop Up Shakespeare
28 August to 9 September
Various Locations, London
Expect ruffled feathers and confused tourists as award-winning actor Mark Rylance embarks on a mission to sneak-attack the people of London with a slice of street theatre. 50 actors across the city will look to strike up conversation with passers by, before launching into the Bard's most famous speeches. You'll have to be on your toes to catch it, but it may just make your day. Click here for more information.
Improbable Theatre Company - Devoted and Disgruntled Roadshow
Various Locations, UK
21 June - 8 September
This ambitious initiative, is not a performance as such, rather an attempt to foster self-sustaining thespian communities that outstay the Games. Using ever-versatile open space technology (i.e. forum-style debate) it invites artists and audiences to converse on the future of UK theatre. Bouncing off a single issue, participants can engineer their own discussion programme both at the events and online.
OPERA & DANCE
Mittwoch aus Licht (Wednesday from Light)
22 to 25 August
Argyle Works , Birmingham
‘Challenging' doesn't quite do this justice. A five-hour opera, it features four airborne helicopters, containing members of a string quartet whose playing is filmed and projected live to the audience below. Its creator, Karlheinz Stockhausen, was one of the top musical innovators of the 20th century. This is one of his Light series of operas for each day of the week, and has never been staged in its entirety (unsurprisingly). That's being remedied by the Birmingham Opera Company at an a ex-chemical plant. If you can't get there in person, have a look online here.
Like A Fish Out Of Water
Uxbridge Lido, Hillingdon, 5 to 7 July
Hampton Pool, Richmond Upon Thames, 12 to 14 July
A lifelong outdoor swimmer is at the fictional centre of this fantastical piece. Pick up an mp3 player and be led around a London lido, and encount live and pre-recorded performance, and members of the public out for a swim. Like him or loath him, it's part of the Mayor of London's Secrets strand of the festival, using unusual urban sites around the capital for artistic purposes, and created by the English National Ballet and seven sisters group. And it's free.
The Barrowlands Project
8 to 9 September
The Barrowlands, Glasgow
One of over 250 events across Scotland during the festival, London 2012 head choreographer Michael Clark and his troupe of professionals invite local Glaswegians to find their inner Fred Astaire. This all-inclusive dance event takes place at the much-loved music hall The Glasgow Barrowlands in the festival's final week, marking the transition from London 2012 towards Glasgow 2014 (the Commonwealth Games).
Branches: The Nature of Gods
5 to 15 July
Founder of the celebrated Berlin dance group DorkyPark, Argentinean choreographer Constanza Macras heads to Wales for site-specific performances inspired by the wiles of the countryside and ancient folklore. Audiences flocked to her previous productions such as 2010's Megaopolis, so don't miss out on this rare opportunity to see Macras' work on UK soil.
Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch: World Cities 2012
Sadler's Wells, London
6 June to 9 July
A festival headliner, this is a selection of witty, revolutionary works by the late, great Pina Bausch. Carrying a message of global interactivity (are you noticing a festival theme...?) with the lightest of touches, these are far from po-faced Olympics PR. Each was created in a different city after Bausch's company Tanztheater Wuppertal had lived there. Turkey, India, Brazil, Hungary and Sicily are among the inspirational locales.
For more information on the London 2012 Festival programme, click here.
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- Opera & Dance