Sing Before You Speak Again | A Taking Part community response to Wings

“These are stories we don’t often get a chance to hear – indeed they are often the hardest stories for people who have had strokes to articulate until they are set to music. Music seems to tap into a part of the brain that sets language free, the rhythm allowing words to flow where they are normally stumbled over”

Written after a series of workshops with stroke recovery groups, Parkinson’s community groups and dementia healthy living clubs and inspired by Natalie Abrahami’s production of Wings by Arthur Kopit, Sing Before You Speak Again was staged this November.

 

Sing Before You Speak Again‘s director Thomas Martin explained a little more about the production which took the form of an original choral song cycle written by Deanna Rodger and Joseph Atkins.

Some of the text was verbatim, but most of it was poetic – in Deanna’s lyrical world, memories become motors, houses become ships tossed about on a cold sea, and brains become balloons to be popped or let go. Joe’s composition brings these images to life with rich and challenging harmonies, filled with cheeky echoes of our participants’ favourite artists – Bob Marley, The Beatles, Joni Mitchell.

 

Sing Before You Speak Again has taken us through a range of emotions with the hope that our audiences leave with a little more understanding of what having a stroke feels like and the often disorientating effects – Wendy, Participant

Following the week of performances some of the company took part in a series of special performances at community centres with Nunhead Dementia Cafe, time & talents and Stockwell Healthy Living Club who helped inspire the original songs that the creative team had met during their original workshops.

It was so brilliant to have such great entertainment and even more special to meet the singers. – Nunhead Dementia Cafe

We’re extremely grateful to some incredible local groups who opened their doors and allowed us to get involved. Our production wouldn’t have been possible without the workshops and support of the following organisations, Aphasia Re-Connect, Southwark and Lambeth Parkinson’s Support Group, Stockwell Healthy Living Club and Time & Talents.

7 young people head to Zimbabwe with Taking Part | Unified Women

Seven young women from Lambeth and Southwark are headed to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
with YV Taking Part as part of a cultural exchange to create a new show, Unified Women.

The group will be joining 10 women, also aged between 18 – 25, in Bulawayo to create a response to The Suppliant Women. The response will be directed by Sasha Milavic Davies and written by Zimbabwean writer, Noma Damasane.

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Unified Women will explore the issues that arise in The Suppliant Women, with both groups sharing ideas that affect young women, regardless of their background or geographical location over a first week of workshops. In the second week the company will rehearse working with the creative team, including a local designer, before sharing the work with audiences in Bulawayo. The group will also get to explore parts of Zimbabwe and the area around Bulawayo.

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You can follow the group’s trip and get behind the scenes in rehearsals on the YV snapchat 👻 youngvictheatre, the Taking Part twitter account and the YV’s instagram.

The project is supported by the British Council, Zimbabwe and in collaboration with Nhimbe Trust.

5 things you didn’t know about Nina Simone (& even if you did they’re still pretty incredible)

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Josette Bushell-Bingo in Nina at the Young Vic. Photo by Simon Annand.

1. What’s in a name? Nina Simone was born in 1933 as the slightly-less-catchy Eunice Waymon. She decided to change it after taking a job as a pianist at a bar in Atlantic City and being told she was going to have to sing too. Terrified her Methodist preacher mother would find out she was singing the “devil’s music”, she laid low under this new name which would soon become iconic. “Nina” was a term of endearment used by an ex-boyfriend whilst “Simone” came from the French actress Simone Signoret.

2. “This Bach, I liked him!” Young Nina began playing the piano as a 3 year old in church, crossing the railroad tracks to the white part of town to study classical piano for free lessons which she adored. Her aim was to be the first black classical pianist in America. It was on this journey that she encountered racism as a young girl, paving the way for her later career in activism: first when her parents were moved to the back of the church during her first piano recital to make way for a white family (Nina refused to play unless they were brought back to the front); then again when she was rejected from the Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music based on her race (she carried on trying, and did get into the Julliard School of Music).

3. Come and knock on my door… Malcolm X and Nina Simone lived next door to one another in Mount Vernon, New York during the late 1960s. The pair were united in their approach to the Civil Rights Movement, believing that a militant stance would be more effective at taking on the establishment than the peaceful protest offered up by Martin Luther King Jr. This was in great contrast to Nina’s early life where she had been taught that racism was the “great unspoken” in her childhood home.

4. “A love affair with fire” – Lisa Simone on her mother. Nina’s second husband Andrew Stroud gave up his day job to become her manager and producer full-time not long after they met and fell in love. They were introduced  in March 1961 while she was playing at a midtown supper club and he was a formidable New York City police officer. Their marriage turned tempestuous, with Stroud becoming abusive before she eventually left him.

5. The messages in Nina’s songs are as relevant today as ever. Nina’s passionate, revolutionary protest anthems such as Mississippi Goddam – a direct response to the murder of Medgar Evers and the Alabama church bombings which killed four children in 1963 – were a call to action and a truly inspiring point of change in the black power movement. In recent years, in the US, the UK and the world over, there have been political stirrings reminiscent of those seen in the 60s and 70s. Nina and her songs are perhaps even more necessary now than ever before.

Nina: A Story about me and Nina Simone runs until 29 July in the Maria studio at the Young Vic. Tickets are sold out but we’ll be operating a returns queue at the box office in advance of each performance.

🎧🎶Listen to our Nina Simone playlist on Spotify to get you in the mood… 🎧🎶

11 Questions with the cast of Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere – Lara Sawalha

Paul Mason and Lara Sawalha in Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere at the Young Vic. Photo by David Sandison..jpg

Paul Mason and Lara Sawalha in Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere at the Young Vic. Photo by David Sandison.

What’s your favourite play you’ve ever seen, been in or read?

There are too many to pick from because each play I’ve seen has left a mark and impacted me in different ways. One that comes to mind is a play I read called The Heresy of Love – a must read.

What can the audience expect from this production that’s different to anything else they are likely to have seen before?

To feel completely immersed in what’s happening around them, like they’re leading the revolution.

What protest or activism have you most recently taken part in or supported?

Protesting against apartheid in Palestine.

Describe in one word what you hope the audience will take away from this show?

Awareness.

What is your favourite midnight snack?

Humous and pitta bread.

What is the funniest protest sign you’ve ever seen?

“I can’t believe we still have to protest this shit”.

Where is your favourite place in the world?

Once I get those wings and fly I’ll let you know (refer to supernatural question). My favourite place constantly changes, so I always have many!

Who is your ultimate hero, and what would you say to them if you ever met them?

I have many but one of them is Maya Angelou and I would take her dancing.

Which historic revolution or protest do you wish you could have been a part of?

Walking across the bridge with Martin Luther King Jr.

If you could have any one supernatural power which would you choose and why?

To fly so everyday I could experience a different part of the world.

What role do you think the arts plays in activism?

It’s another platform to speak and be heard to express and change the world.

If you could swap lives with anybody for one day, who would it be and why?

Donald Trump so that I can actually understand how his brain works, because it really doesn’t make sense.

What’s one thing about the future that makes you feel positive?

Seeing people around me working hard to improve the world of today for the generations of tomorrow.

Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere will be broadcast on BBC Two this year as part of Performance Live, a two-year strand of programmes developed between Arts Council England and Battersea Arts Centre.

Read what audiences have been saying about #KickingOffLive so far.

🌟🌟🌟🌟 “Deviant and dazzlingly imaginative” | A Midsummer Night’s Dream reviews

Director Joe Hill-Gibbins has teamed up with designer Johannes Schütz (Three Sisters) to dive into the subconscious of Shakespeare’s masterpiece, giving us a nightmarish #YVDream that everyone’s talking about.

See what the critics, press night guests and audiences alike have been saying in our round-up below.

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John Dagleish and Jemima Rooper as Lysander and Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo by Keith Pattison.

🌟🌟🌟🌟
“Lust and violence are never far away. Delves into the collective unconscious.”
The Guardian | Read the full review here

🌟🌟🌟🌟
“Deviant and dazzlingly imaginative”
The Independent | Read the full review here

 

“I loved so much about last night. All one wants is for people to speak with their souls present, and to remind us that this language and the contradiction of peoples’ personalities shines across 500 years.”
– Fiona Shaw

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Check out what else audiences have been saying over on our Storify and catch #YVDream while tickets last at Young Vic until 1 April .

11 Questions with the cast of See Me Now – Ric London

I am a sex worker and comfortable with it. Some say this makes me an interesting person. Others are shocked by the number of friends and acquaintances that know what I do. Some even regard me as brave. I came to the UK longer than I want to remember, on my own, diving into the unknown. I had many jobs; most bad, some nasty, a few were OK, none well paid. I am good at most things men are not meant to do, my ability at it has given me more recognition than my intellect ever did, although I think the latter is better, and still want to be a rock star. All I aim is to achieve happiness because in the end that’s the only success that is worth such name.

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If you could only eat one ‘Penny Sweet’ for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I much prefer savoury.

What is one common misconception about the sex industry you would like to change?

That we are all forced into it and are disgusted by it.

What is one thing you would like people to know about sex work? 

That some of us enjoy it.

Is this your first time working in theatre? What’s it been like?

No, it has been great.

Descibe the See Me Now rehearsal room vibes in three words (or emojis).

Energy, synergy, fun.

What did you want to be growing up?

Film director or Rock star, and I still want to.

If days were 28 hours long, what would you do with the 4 extra hours?

I want to think I would write more, but probably I would waste them surfing the net or listening to nonsensical people.

What’s your favourite song and why?

‘Love me till I die’ (Prom night 1980). It’s the perfect piece of music. The lyrics are rubbish though. It’s groovy, uplifting and makes me feel good. Better than Prozac!

What’s your favourite play or movie you’ve ever seen?

Helsinki Napoli (an obscure German film from the 1908s). Law of Desire.

If you could have one supernatural power which would you choose and why?

Ruling other’s minds with mine.

Do you think you will want to continue being involved in theatre after this production?

Sure!!!

Ric London stars in See Me Now  which runs 11 Feb – 4 Mar in the Young Vic’s Maria. Tickets for this production are all sold out but you are welcome to join our returns queues from an hour before each performance. Find more information on See Me Now here

New Season Announcement: Young Vic 2017 Season – Time to make some noise.

We’re not doing 2017 by halves, we’re over the moon (you’ll get that in a minute) to announce seven new shows in our 2017 line up.

In the Main House it’s the season of creative returns: Joe Wright returns to the Young Vic with Life Of Galileo after his acclaimed production of A Season of the Congo.  Sell-out sensation, Yerma is back for a limited run. The incredible team behind Happy Days reunites for Wings, directed by Natalie Abrahami. And, The Suppliant Women brings back Ramin Gray, after Living with the Lights on. Over in the studios we have Taha, Nina and How to Win Against HistoryFind out more on all the shows below.

Life of Galileo ( 6 May – 24 Jun)

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BAFTA Award-winning film director Joe Wright (Atonement, Anna Karenina) returns to the Young Vic after his celebrated production of A Season in the Congo, with Brendan Cowell in the title role following his acclaimed performance in Yerma.

Galileo makes an explosive discovery about the universe with his new invention – the telescope. The establishment is in an uproar over his powerful challenge to their worldview and their entrenched religious beliefs.

Brecht’s masterpiece will be performed in-the-round on a stunning set designed by Lizzie Clachan (Yerma, A Season in the Congo) and with projections by 59 Productions (Feast, War Horse).

Life of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht, translated by John Willett, runs 6 May – 24 June 2017 in the Young Vic’s Main House. It is directed by Joe Wright with design by Lizzie Clachan, video by Lysander Ashton for 59 Productions, light by Jon Clark,  sound by Tom Gibbons, puppet direction by Sarah Wright and dramaturgy by Sarah Tipple. With Brendan Cowell and more to be announced.

Yerma (26 Jul – 31 Aug)

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★★★★★
‘An extraordinary theatrical triump’ – The Times

★★★★★
‘A shatteringly powerful reinvention of a familiar classic’ – The Independent

★★★★★ – The Observer, Evening Standard, Metro, Mail on Sunday, The Sun, iNews

2016’s biggest hit returns for a strictly limited run. The extraordinary Billie Piper plays Her, a woman driven to the unthinkable by her desperate desire to have a child.

Simon Stone creates a radical new production of Lorca’s achingly powerful masterpiece.

Yerma by Simon Stone after Federico García Lorca runs 26 July – 31 August in the Young Vic’s Main House. It is directed by Simon Stone with design by Lizzie Clachan, costumes by Alice Babidge, light by James Farncombe, music & sound Stefan Gregory, video by Jack Henry James, casting by Julian Horan CDG. With, Maureen Beattie, Brendan Cowell, John MacMillan, Billie Piper and Charlotte Randle. 

Yerma is now sold out. We will be running returns queues on the day from an hour before each performance. Find more information on NT Live screenings here.  

Wings (14 September – 28 October) 

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Juliet Stevenson takes on yet another extraordinary role.  Emily was a fiercely independent woman, an aviator and a wingwalker, until a stroke destroyed her sense of reality. Fragments of her life come together as she struggles to find her voice and herself.

The hugely successful collaborators from  Happy Days reunites with director Natalie Abrahami.

Wings by Arthur Kopit runs 14 September – 28 October in the Young Vic’s Main House. It is directed by Natalie Abrahami with design by Michael Levine, light by Guy Hoare, sound by Gareth Fry and movement by Anna Morrisey. With Juliet Stevenson and more to be announced. 

The Suppliant Women ( 13 – 25 November)

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★★★★★
‘An epic, feminist protest song’ – The Guardian

“If we help, we invite trouble.
If we don’t, we invite shame.”

Fifty women leave everything behind to board a boat in North Africa and fl ee across the Mediterranean. They are escaping forced marriage in their homeland, hoping for protection and assistance, seeking asylum in Greece.

Written 2,500 years ago by the great playwright Aeschylus, one of the world’s oldest plays speaks to us through the ages with startling resonance for our troubled times.

Featuring a chorus of young women from London, this is part play, part ritual. Director Ramin Gray unearths an electric connection to the deepest and most mysterious ideas of the humanity – who are we, where do we belong and if all goes wrong – who will take us in?

An Actors Touring Company, Young Vic and Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh co-production.

The Suppliant Women by Aeschylus, a new version by David Greig, runs 13 – 25 Novemeber in the Young Vic’s Main House. It is directed by Ramin Gray with music by John Browne, choreography by Sasha Milavic Davies, design by Lizzie Clachan andlight by Charles Balfour. With Callum Armstrong, Oscar Batterham, Ben Burton, Omar Ebrahim and Gemma May Rees. 

Taha ( 5 – 15 July)

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All my life, nothing came easy.
Not even becoming a poet.

A lyrical story of the life of Palestinian poet Taha Muhammed Ali, written and performed by Amer Hlhel.

Amir Nizar Zuabi (The Beloved, I Am Yusuf and This Is My Brother), founder of celebrated theatre company ShiberHur, returns to the Young Vic to direct this London premiere.

An Amer Hlehel, Young Vic and Shubbak Festival co-production.

Taha by Amer Hlehel, translated by Amir Nizar Zuabi, runs 5 – 15 July in the Young Vic’s Maria. It is translated and directed by Amir Nizar Suabi with light by Muaz Jubeh and music by Habib Shehadeh Hanna. With Amer Hlehel.

Nina (19 – 29 July)

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A STORY ABOUT ME & NINA SIMONE

★★★★
‘A searing tribute restarts Simone’s revolution’ – The Guardian

Backed by a brilliant band, Josette Bushell-Mingo mixes story and song as she draws together tales from the life of Nina Simone, her own extraordinary career and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Nina devised by Josette Bushell-Mingo and Dritëro Kasapi runs 19 – 29 July in the Young Vic’s Maria. It is directed by Dritëro Kasapi with design by Rosa Maggiora, light by Matt Haskins, musical direction by Shapor Bastansia and dramaturgy by Christina Anderson. With Josette Bushell-Mingo.

Nina is now sold out. We will be running returns queues on the day from an hour before each performance.

How to Win Against History (30 November – 23 December)

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★★★★★
‘This musical about being a cross-dressing Marquess is a work of genius’ – The Daily Telegraph

★★★★
‘Gleeful, luicrous – a larky collision of Gilbert & Sulivan and Monty Python’ – Time Out

The 5th Marquis of Anglesey was one of the world’s wealthiest men, until he lost it all by being too damn fabulous. A riches-to-rags story becomes a hilarious, ripped-up musical in an outrageous performance by Seiriol Davies.

An Aine Flanagan Productions, Seiriol Davies and Young Vic co-production.

How to Win Against History runs 30 November – 23 December in the Young Vic’s Maria. It is directed by Alex Swift with design by Verity Quinn, light by Dan Saggers, musical direction by Dylan Townley, music by Seiriol Davies and dramaturgy by Eve Leigh. With Matthew Blake, Seiriol Davies and Dylan Townley.

Tickets go on sale to the public on Wednesday 1 February  at 10am. You can become a friend and book today at www.youngvic.org