• Circus Life: Art and Artistes ran in the Peltz Gallery at Birkbeck from Wednesday 7 November to Wednesday 12 December 2018. The exhibition celebrated circus’ 250th anniversary, and featured paintings, drawings, photographs, ceramics and sculpture by artists currently working alongside the circus community, including Peter Lavery, Kate Stone, John Stillman, Abel Kesteven and Curtis Tappenden, as well as prints by Laura Knight, and pieces by Clarice Cliff and Clifford Hall. Alongside the exhibition, we hosted a programme of events:
    • Wednesday 7 November, 6-8pm: Private view and reception (Peltz Gallery): This evening will include circus skills demonstrations and the opportunity to meet some of the exhibiting artists.
    • Saturday 10 November, 2-5pm: Circus Life: Circus on Screen (Birkbeck Cinema): Supported by BIMI (Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image), this special programme of circus-themed films includes a number of short “back stage” documentary pieces about circus life, followed by a 90th anniversary screening of Charlie Chaplin’s 1928 silent classic The Circus.
    • Monday 12 November, 7.30-9pm: Theatre Conversation: Circus Life, Cultures and Communities (G10): This panel discussion will be hosted by Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre Fellow Julius Green, offering a unique opportunity to meet with performers from the circus community and discuss their life and work.
    • Thursday 6 December, 7-8.30pm: Circus Life: Why We Should All Run Away with the Circus (Peltz Gallery): Join Dea Birkett and Ron Beadle at our finale event as they look to the future and discuss why we should all run away with the circus. Dr Birkett is a writer, broadcaster and Ringmaster of the Circus 250 project. Ron Beadle is Professor of Organisation and Business Ethics at Northumbria University and Visiting Professor at the National Centre for Circus Arts. He researches ethics in circus and is co-founder of the Circus Research Network.
  • Panel discussion: Alvis Hermanis: On Friday 16 November, 6.30-8.30pm (G10), we co-hosted a panel discussion in which two major theatre directors discuss the importance of historical concepts of the avant-garde in contemporary European theatre. The panel was followed by the launch of the book Spaces and Stages of Avant-garde Theatre in Central-Eastern Europe. This event took place as part of Back to the Future: Central European Avant-Garde Reclaimed, a major international conference organised by Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute, Adam Mickiewicz Institute, and Royal Holloway, University of London.
  • St James’ Gardens Project: On Saturday 24 November, 9pm and Sunday 25 November, 6pm, Camden People’s Theatre presented a first work-in-progress sharing of the St. James’ Gardens Project. Directed by Centre for Contemporary Theatre Fellow Brian Logan, it explored the impact of the HS2 development on St. James’ Gardens in Euston. Supported by the Birkbeck Public Engagement Seed Fund.
  • Depicting Donbas: Creative and critical responses to the war in Ukraine: On Thursday 25 and Friday 26 April 2019, we hosted Depicting Donbas: Creative and critical responses to the war in Ukraine, a series of three events over two days exploring how artists across genres are responding to the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. The reading, the symposium, and the evening performance were all free and open to the public. Depicting Donbas was made possible with support from Birkbeck Research Centres Collaboration Fund, UCL Octagon Small Grants, Birkbeck School of Arts Strategic Research Fund, Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary TheatreBirkbeck Research in Aesthetics of Kinship and Community, and Birkbeck Gender and Sexuality.
    • On Thursday 25 April from 6-7:30pm we hosted Ukrainian writers Iryna Shuvalova, Iryna Starovoyt, and Olena Styazhkina for a reading and discussion of their works. The reading will take place in the Masaryk Room at UCL’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies.
    • On Friday 26 April from 10am-4:45pm we held a symposium at Birkbeck School of Arts featuring presentations and discussion with Ukrainian writers, theatre artists, photographers, filmmakers and academics on the role of creative practice during times of conflict. Click here for more details on speakers and details of the programme.
    • Following the symposium Friday 26 April from 7-9pm the Centre presented a documentary theatre performance from Ukraine’s Theatre of Displaced People written and performed by Alik Sardarian and Natalia Vorozhbyt, directed by Georg Genoux.
  • Birkbeck Arts Week, Monday 20 to Friday 24 May 2019: On each day of this year’s annual festival staged by the School of Arts, Centre members, Fellows, visiting artists, graduates and students presented a series of talks, screenings and performances.
    • Monday 20 May
      • Silencing the virus, Room G10, 43 Gordon Square. (15-min performance slots at 5.45, 6.15 & 6.45). Centre Fellow Lily Hunter Green invited audiences to explore the threat to bees in this immersive digital performance combining art, science and technology, created by a computer scientist, a molecular scientist and a composer. An audio virus spread through the performance space, starting with one audience member as patient zero.
      • Rebellion 2: taking back control. Ireland’s bloody departure from the Union with Great Britain, 7.40-9.40pm, Cinema, 43 Gordon Square. A screening of the first episode of Rebellion 2, Birkbeck’s Colin Teevan’s Netflix series, sequel to Rebellion (2016), in this centenary year of the secession of the Irish parliament from Westminster.
      • Archaeology of memory: documentary theatre at Moscow’s Sakharov Centre, 7.45-9.00pm, Room G04, 43 Gordon Square. Russian theatre director Anastasia Patlay offered a rare masterclass on her work with historical documents in performance. Patlay, curator of the Sakharov Centre’s programme, speaks about their use of archival materials onstage and the complexities of performing the Soviet past in the present.
    • Tuesday 21 May
      • Theatre scratch night, 6-7.30pm, Room G10, 43 Gordon Square. Students from our theatre and creative writing programmes shared their work in progress. The evening included the first showing of several short new plays.
    • Wednesday 22 May
      • Her Figure a Song, 7-8.30pm, Room G10, 43 Gordon Square. Her Figure a Song stages an extended eavesdropped investigation of the East Coast of the UK. This new performance by Johanna Linsley and Rebecca Collins is part experimental documentary, part eco-fable, part detective thriller.
    • Thursday 23 May
      • Testimony: a theatrical exploration, 6-7.30pm, Room G10, 43 Gordon Square.What can and can’t we say in public in the modern world? This new interactive performance explored truth, secrets and confidences, inspired by the fascinating testimony of three 17th century Calvinist women: Hannah Allen, Anna Trapnel and Sarah Wight. Students on the MFA Theatre Directing presented a devised exploration.
    • Friday 24 May
      • Damien by Aldyth Morris: Daniel Finlay one man show, 5-7.00pm, Room G10, 43 Gordon Square. This show tells the extraordinary story of Father Damien de Veuster, the leper priest of Moloka’i and patron saint of outcasts. Daniel Finlay’s passionate channelling takes its cue from our own times and Father Damien’s canonisation at the Vatican on October 11, 2009.
      • The violent household II: John Milton’s will, 6-7.30pm, Room G04, 43 Gordon Square. Eleanor Warr’s play Cry up Liberty explores Milton’s will, his daughters and the law to examine inheritance, family rage and violence. She directs a rehearsed reading, followed by a panel discussion.
    • All week:
      • Camden People’s Theatre: HUMAN JAM, 7 – 25 May, 7.15pm,
        Camden People’s Theatre, 58-60 Hampstead Road, London
        NW1 2PY, Tickets £12 (£10)
        . How do you excavate 63,000 bodies? Where will they go? And what will be uncovered by all this digging? In St James’ Gardens, right on CPT’s doorstep, the biggest exhumation of graves in European history is taking place. Parks and pubs are closing, too. People are losing their homes and businesses. All to make way for HS2’s new railway terminal. “We late-lamented, resting here, / Are mixed to human jam” CPT’s epic new docu-theatre event digs deep into a small but stubborn community, an £80bn infrastructure project – and the ghosts of Euston past. Supported by the Birkbeck Public Engagement Seed Fund.
  • Graduate Research in Theatre: GRiT is our termly research seminar, featuring presentations by visiting scholars, faculty and graduate students. There is no need to book in advance to attend. Our programme for 2018-19:
    • Wednesday 28 November, 4-5pm (Keynes Library): Alyson Campbell (University of Melbourne)
    • Wednesday 13 February, 4-5pm (Room 106): Daragh Carville (playwright, screenwriter and Lecturer in Creative Writing at Birkbeck)
    • Wednesday 20 March, 4-5pm (106): Sasha Dovzhyk (Birkbeck)
    • Wednesday 8 May, 4-5pm (106): Hannah Barton (Birkbeck)
  • London Theatre Seminar: Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre also supports London Theatre Seminar. For the schedule of seminars for 2018-19, click here.