About the V&A Performance Festival 2017

The V&A's annual Performance Festival celebrates theatre and performance in all of their forms, with a wide range of special events throughout the Museum.

Running for 10 days this April, the 2017 Festival is presented in parallel with the Theatre & Performance Galleries display, The History of Europe – Told by its Theatres. Inspired by the themes of the display, the Festival programme celebrates and explores the relationship between British and European stages, as well as engaging with performance practice more broadly and internationally.

Cruel and Tender, a Young Vic, Wiener Festwochen and Chichester Festival Production; in co-production with the Theatre des Bouffes du Nord and Ruhrfestspiele Recklingshausen, 2004. Photograph © Graham Brandon, Victoria & Albert Museum, London

The Festival programme kicks-off with a one-day conference, Brexit the Stage: What Next for British Theatre and Europe? which examines the future of theatre and performance in the UK and Europe. Taking place on Saturday 22 April, the conference brings together leading researchers, practitioners and policy-makers working in and between British and European stages, to discuss our shared history and consider the future of theatre in a post-Brexit society.

Dash Squat, a performance takeover by international arts organisation Dash Arts. Photograph © Carolannefreeling

Other Europe-themed events include Dash Squat, a performance takeover by international arts organisation Dash Arts; New Films, Old Drama – a trio of short films by Bare Faced Greek, featuring ancient Greek texts performed in the original language; and The Breadcrumb Trail, a unique theatrical tour of the Museum's Europe 1600 – 1815 galleries.

Leon Scott in ‘The Watchmen’, from New Films, Old Drama, three new short films by Barefaced Greek. Photograph © Sebastián Benalcázar

The Performance Festival also offers an opportunity to celebrate the Museum's extraordinary theatre collections. In a first for the V&A, we have invited a clutch of comedians into the Museum for Carry on Curatinga special comedy night on 21 April – to celebrate the V&A's recent acquisition of the Tommy Cooper Collection.

Portrait of Tommy Cooper. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Finally, we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of the National Video Archive of Performance – the V&A's film and video archive of recordings of stage performances. The first production to be recorded, in 1992, was the National Theatre's acclaimed production of Richard III, starring Ian McKellen. Since then the archive has grown steadily, and it now stands at over 350 recordings of productions, ranging from theatre and musicals to pantomime and dance. To celebrate 25 years of recording theatre at the V&A, we are hosting a day of talks on Sunday 30 April, including Hamlet to Hangmen, a panel discussion with Simon Russell Beale and Maureen Lipman discussing their favourite theatre productions from the last 25 years.

The Fastest Clock In The Universe, recorded at the Old Red Lion Theatre, London for the National Video Archive of Performance, 2013. Photograph © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Over the ten days of Festival activity there will be many more events including special talks, tours, film screenings and performances throughout the Museum. With most events running as free, drop-in sessions, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Find out more about our Theatre & Performance collections