British Theatre and Europe: Past, Present and Future – Part 2

In the second part of the blog, “British Theatre and Europe: Past, Present and Future,” Assistant Curators, Alice Young and Helen Gush, highlight some of the exciting events taking place during the V&A Performance Festival in April 2017.

The annual V&A Performance Festival takes place every April celebrating theatre and performance in all their forms, with a wide range of special events taking place throughout the Museum. This year, the Festival draws inspiration from the themes of The History of Europe – Told by its Theatres, exploring the relationship between British, European and international stages.

The 2017 Performance Festival will explore and celebrate European themes. © Graham Brandon, Victoria & Albert Museum, London

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

Dash Squat will bring European counter-culture performance to the Museum. Image © Carolannefreeling

Other Europe-themed events include Dash Squat, a performance takeover by international arts organisation Dash Arts, on 21 April; New Films, Old Drama – a trio of short films by Barefaced Greek, featuring ancient Greek texts performed in the original language; and The Breadcrumb Trail, a unique theatrical tour of the Museum’s Europe Galleries.

New Films, Old Drama, three new short films by Barefaced Greek will be shown as part of the Festival programme. Photo by Sebastián Benalcázar

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

The Carry On Curating comedy night will take place on 21 April, in celebration of the V&A’s recent acquisition of the Tommy Cooper Archive. Image © 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 live performance. 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, there will be a day of talks on Sunday 30 April, including Hamlet to Hangmen, a panel discussion with Juliet Stevenson 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 free, drop in, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

The V&A Performance Festival will run 21st-31st April and full details of all the events can be found on the V&A Museum website.

To discover more information about the new display The History of Europe – Told by its Theatres read British Theatre and Europe: Past, Present and Future – Part 1.