Produced and developed in partnership with Arts Council England and Battersea Arts Centre, Performance Live will showcase on BBC Two a spectrum of some of the most exciting artists working in performance today.
This two-year strand of programmes features the works of over a dozen artists, producers and arts organisations from across England, who have embraced the challenge of producing innovative pieces of live performance for television.
Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere
Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere is about revolution. Written and performed by Paul Mason, former Economics Editor of Channel 4 News and BBC’s Newsnight, the play traces how we got from the optimism of the Arab Spring and the origins of the Occupy Movement to Trump’s election and the present day.
Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere is directed by David Lan and performed by Paul Mason, Khalid Abdalla, Sirine Saba and Lara Sawalha. It is directed for TV by Tim van Someren and produced by the Young Vic in partnership with Totally Theatre Productions.
Flood: To The Sea
One day it starts to rain and no-one knows why. And it doesn’t stop. Far out on the North Sea a fisherman raises a girl in his net, miraculously alive from the deep sea. Is she one of the migrants now washing up on English shores? Or someone sent for some higher purpose?
Set in the aftermath of an apocalyptic event, which has seen England engulfed by water, this play asks a simple question: what if the fleeing masses from our TV screens and Twitter feeds, in their boats and their orange lifejackets, had English accents?
Flood: To The Sea is the third instalment of an extraordinary year-long epic commissioned for Hull, UK City of Culture 2017 that will be told online, live in Hull and on BBC television. It is created by the ground-breaking Leeds-based theatre company Slung Low, directed by artistic director Alan Lane and written by award-winning playwright James Phillips.
Get A Round
Set in a city that’s not shy of a soap opera, Get A Round is broadcast from a much loved, real pub in Manchester. Watch friendships, politics and pints collide between the jukebox, the bar and the ladies’ loos as Eggs Collective, a trio of spirited friends hell-bent on having a good time, wonder whether a big night out can save the world. Expect the spontaneous energy of TFI Friday, the grand musical numbers of Top of the Pops and all the drama of the Rovers Return on Christmas Day.
Filmed in front of a live audience, Get A Round is a call for community in a divide and conquer world; a homage to the boozer and the glory of finding salvation around sticky tables and ripped open crisp packets.
Get A Round is produced by Manchester theatre company Eggs Collective.
On October 7 1997, Ross Sutherland was sat watching EastEnders with his parents. At 8.09pm, just as Pauline Fowler arrived at Ruth Fowler’s door holding a jigsaw, so was Ross’s friend James pulling up outside his house in Essex. Ross got up from the TV, climbed into James’s car and the pair headed off towards Colchester. Fifteen minutes later, just as Joe Wicks proposed to Sarah Hills, Ross and James’s car left the motorway, careering into a road-sign.
Now, 20 years later, Ross returns to his family home to revisit the most important day of his teenage life. There’s no such thing as time travel, but maybe television is the next best thing. Ross plans to re-screen the episode of EastEnders that he walked out on two decades earlier. Aided by musician Jonnie Common, Ross will remix Albert Square into a brand-new audio-visual poem on nostalgia and loss.
Once upon a time, if a poet wanted to write about the vastness of time, he would write about a mountain or an ocean. Today, the soap opera is the perfect metaphor. Forever changing, yet forever the same.
“We came up with this idea specifically for Performance Live. For me, it still retains the spontaneity and ‘liveness’ of theatre, but I don’t think it would work as a piece onstage. Or in any other time-slot, or platform, or type of media, for that matter. The story is so closely connected to this single episode of EastEnders that it really has to be told on EastEnders’s turf, rather than by bringing a screen into a theatre.
"It’s a story about the passing of time, and how, despite the way that modern media can be stored and endlessly replayed, the real world never lets us go back. So we wanted people to experience the piece at home just as it unfolds for us. Then once it happens, it’s gone.” - Ross Sutherland, writer.
Missing Episode is written by experimental Scottish poet Ross Sutherland (Party Trap, Stand By For Tape Back-Up) and is produced by Loop Projects Ltd. It is directed by Charlie Lyne (writer and director of Fear Itself for BBC iPlayer).
[The working title was 'You Can't Go Back']
I Told My Mum I Was Going On An R.E. Trip...
I Told My Mum I Was Going On An R.E. Trip... explores one of society’s last taboos: abortion. With one in three women in the UK having had an abortion, this honest, frank and moving production uses verbatim interview material, song and spoken word to portray the stories of real women and their experiences. I Told My Mum I Was Going On An R.E. Trip... is the result of two years of development, based on the interviews and opinions of over 50 participants including young women, boyfriends, parents, doctors and campaigners. Told through the voices of four young women, it starts conversations and provokes thought in an engaging and often humorous way, without ever losing sight of the serious issues it describes.
“We are so excited about the opportunity to get this subject matter out to an even bigger audience. The experience of having an abortion is such a taboo in society, and many women feel that they have to keep it a secret. We are pleased to be able to share these stories far and wide, and help combat the stigma around something that happens to one in three British women in their lifetimes.” - Julia Samuels, Director
I Told My Mum I Was Going On An R.E. Trip... is a co-production between award-winning theatre company 20 Stories High and Contact Theatre.
On the way to a party, in an unfamiliar city, step out at the station and jump into a minicab...
What ensues is a surprising immersive theatrical journey through Middlesbrough, in and out of the cabs of three very different taxi drivers. Their stories uncover what lies beneath the surface of a post-industrial Northern town and unfold into a state-of-the-nation tale like no other.
The show features performances from real-life taxi drivers: A young British-Pakistani entrepreneur who believes that immigrants have always been enterprising by nature, a local man who used to work in construction on towering glass buildings down in London and an older seasoned driver who is in love with his job... until the day he falls out of love.
Each ride presents a micro-world of each driver’s taxi; sometimes the ride is comfortable and sometimes it is punctuated by uncertainty.
It is strange how journeys can be - in between cab rides, a series of incidents and encounters occur that couldn’t be coincidence - could they?
“For us the most exciting thing about being part of Performance Live is the groundbreaking nature of the two disciplines of theatre and television coming together to think about producing something in a new way: A TV show that goes beyond simple capture of theatrical performance and re-creates and re-imagines it for the small screen. Taxi Tales delves under the surface of a city in the UK and dramatises it in a way that, we hope, will be fresh and revealing for TV audiences.” - Tamasha
Taxi Tales is a collaboration between award-winning taxi driver-turned-playwright and screenwriter Ishy Din and London-based touring theatre company, Tamasha. Tamasha is Britain’s leading touring theatre company producing critically-acclaimed new plays that put diverse artists centre-stage. During their 26 year history successes like East Is East, Snookered and Made In India have won acclaim from critics and audiences alike.
Winged Bull In The Elephant Case
Inspired by real life events, Winged Bull In The Elephant Case follows the journey of a National Gallery painting that has taken human form, as it tries to save its friends and get back home to London from a slate mine in North Wales.
For five years during WW2, the National Gallery’s entire collection lived in a mine called Manod in the heart of Snowdonia. Filmed at the actual slate mine and using a combination of dance, sound, animation, parkour and sculpture, this immersive piece of television considers protection and risk, and the lengths we will go to preserve the arts and our cultural heritage.
Winged Bull in the Elephant Case is produced by Studio Wayne McGregor. Written and directed by Robin Friend and choreographed by Wayne McGregor CBE.
The music is composed by Ben Frost.
East Wall - Live From The Tower Of London
Choreographer Hofesh Shechter creates a new work in one of the world’s great landmark buildings. Leading a legion of choreographers, young dancers, musicians and community participants, Hofesh and the ensemble will animate the West Moat of the Tower of London with a thrilling high energy performance. As the sun sets over the Thames, the sounds, energy, and people of East London will fill this bastion of power, in a vivid and timely celebration of London’s diverse communities.
Hofesh’s trademark pulsating musical score will be played live on electric guitars, drums and by military bands, choirs, rappers, spoken word artists and others from multiple locations including on top of the ramparts and towers.
The project is inspired by themes of migration, cultural identity and displacement, and will celebrate East London’s rich cultural heritage in its participants, music and choreographic elements.
Each night, 2000 people will be able to experience the live event in the shadows of one of London’s most iconic landmarks.
East Wall is a partnership between East London Dance, Hofesh Shechter Company, Historic Royal Palaces and LIFT and is co-produced for broadcast by Illuminations.
Performance Live is also developing commissions with Touretteshero, Manchester International Festival and Akala, as well as with Daniel Kitson, who is working on idea with Battersea Arts Centre.
The Ruins Of Empires
Akala presents: The Ruins Of Empires... The story follows The Knowledge Seeker through the course of human history, in an attempt to explore the rise and fall of empires. Produced by Greenacre Films/Immovable. This event promises to take viewers on a trip through the revolution of revelation to present a multi-sensory narrative encompassing performance, projection and video mapping.
Me, My Mouth, And I
Touretteshero are developing Me, My Mouth, And I, following the success of their multi-award-winning stage show, Backstage In Biscuit Land and subsequent Broadcast From Biscuit Land, shown on BBC Four as part of Live From Television Centre in November 2015. Artist, writer and activist Jess Thom has Tourette’s Syndrome, a neurological condition that means she makes movements and noises she cannot control, called tics. Me, My Mouth, And I charts her journey as she prepares for her role as Mouth in Samuel Beckett’s short play Not I - a journey of discovery about the text, Beckett, identity, and ultimately about what it is like to be a disabled performer.