Brick Lane Theatre Festival: Experimental theatre in the East End

FUCK’D won a place at the festival via an online competition Pic: Yuvan Kumar

Experimental theatre has come to Brick Lane in the form of a summer festival.

The Brick Lane Theatre Festival is running at Juju’s Bar & Stage, 91 Brick Lane in the space that was once the iconic Vibe Bar, inside The Old Truman Brewery and is being curated by The Old Red Lion Theatre.

There were initially eight shows that were being staged at Juju’s as part of The Brick Lane Theatre Festival, five of which are still playing. The festival boasts small low-budget productions like a one-man-show and some immersive theatre.

Roisin Devine, events coordinator for The Brick Lane Theatre Festival, said: “It is all about reclaiming an unused space and keeping it as simple as possible.”

Juliet Kennedy, curator at Juju’s, said: “When I first came to Juju’s, it was being used for a weekly Brazilian night on Wednesdays – the old management was Brazilian. We still have that actually, it’s one of the more popular nights. People from all over London come for those dance classes.”

After Kennedy joined in June 2016, things started to pick up. She has had hands-on experience working at festivals, which helped to bring events to Juju’s.

“The first event I booked were The Turbans. They’re a local collective, internationally renowned and gypsy kind of world band who have a huge following – that kicked things off. I’ve met a lot of people in the arts in those festival scenes. So, I’ve just brought it all to Juju’s, used the connections.”

One show at the festival was FCUK’D, a fast-paced, one-man-show directed by Niall Ransome and performed by Will Mytum. The play chronicled the story of a teenage working class British boy and his younger brother Matty who flee their council estate flat in an attempt to run away from the authorities. He is everything to Matty (not physically portrayed), since their mother went crazy after their father left their family. Laced with poverty, fear, mentorship and love, FCUK’D is a show that strikes a chord with people from various spheres.

The entire performance is written in verse, making the narrative all the more challenging to portray. FCUK’D uses no props, basic lighting changes and a simple soundtrack.

Devine said: “FCUK’D did a great job keeping it as simple as possible.”

The show made its way into the festival through an online submission set-up by The Old Red Lion Theatre.

Roisin Devine, said: “I really loved the show. I thought this would be great straight away, because it tells a story about themes you don’t usually see on a London stage. This is why we had it up”

“The intensity with which he plays the part is amazing, you never once questioned the intensity of the character. It’s the perfect example of fringe theatre.”

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