This summer, The Bunker Theatre’s artistic director Joshua McTaggart is introducing a brand new initiative that focuses on ‘The Company’: BREAKING OUT. Over the course of four weeks, six emerging theatre companies (narrowed down from over 45 applications) will perform their latest work twice a week – from plays, to musicals, to interactive experiences, there really does seem to be something for everyone. Each night sees a pair of shows put on back-to-back (you can grab yourself a bargain by booking to see a double bill for £22) at 7pm and 8.30pm, with performances running from Monday-Saturday every week.
“I am thrilled that The Bunker’s Summer Season champions and celebrates ‘The Company’. From established ensembles to emerging artists, summer at The Bunker will see an incredible range of performances, styles, and ideas all presented by groups who collaborate and create their work together. At the centre of this programming are the six winners of our Breaking Out project, chosen from an incredible application pool of 45 companies. These six companies are just at the beginning of their journeys, but the work they are planning to create is sharp, contemporary, and ambitious, and I know our audiences are going to be fascinated by the stories these young artists have to tell.”
Joshua McTaggart (artistic director)
Poke in the Eye: Libby’s Eyes (Mondays & Thursdays, 7pm)
Comedian & actor Georgie Morrell performs disabled playwright Amy Bethan Evans’ new play, exploring disability in today’s society. After managing to cope with her blindness and lead a relatively normal life, Libby is forced to rely on a new government-issue robot (Cortana) that supposedly describes things without bias. However, she starts to believe that Cortana might not be functioning correctly, and faces a dilemma about her future.
Evans says: “I’m so excited to be getting this platform at the Bunker for my work and to be working with a company like Poke in the Eye. I feel that were in a time where disabled-led work is more relevant than ever and I’m so pleased the Bunker have trust in what I have to say.”
Sleepless Theatre Company: Nine Foot Nine (Mondays & Thursdays, 8.30pm)
Cara and Nate are trying to start a family, but are feeling a bit daunted by everything that comes along with pregnancy. While they’re in the midst of all this, however, a significant proportion of all women worldwide start growing and there seems to be no way of stopping it. The result is that women are now more physically powerful than men; the ramifications of this could be earth-shattering, as old prejudices go out of the window. The play takes a look at the ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ labels, playing with their potential in an ever-changing world.
“We’re delighted that Nine Foot Nine is premiering as part of the Breaking Out programme! The Bunker has been a home to some brilliant productions since opening and being part of that experience is very exciting for us as a company. With its discussions of gender and power, we don’t think there’s been a better time for Nine Foot Nine to open and we can’t wait to find out how London audiences respond to it. We’re committed to championing accessibility across the arts and The Bunker has already been a great help in making this happen in their venue.”
This Noise: No One Is Coming To Save You (Tuesdays & Fridays, 7pm)
An insomniac sits watching foreign language TV, not understanding a word, and a woman stands in her garden with her arms stretched to the sky. Something is about to happen but, apart from these two people, everyone is asleep – their stories are separate, but both are living in social, political and economic fear. The play delves into the idea of waiting for something better, and wonders what it is we might be waiting for.
“This Noise is an emerging company that makes experimental theatre; we are interested in finding contemporary languages for the way it feels to be young today, and what political action might look like to our generation. No One is Coming to Save You is a bold, funny show about believing something better is coming but not knowing where to look, and we are so happy that The Bunker, with its supportive culture of giving experimental work a great platform, is going to be its first home.”
Paper Creatures Theatre: Section 2 (Tuesdays & Fridays, 8.30pm)
Emerging playwright Peter Imms has used the old adage “write what you know”, drawing on his own experience of a friend being sectioned to write a play, developing it into Section 2 alongside the Paper Creatures team. This new drama focuses on Cam, who has been sectioned, and the people around him (his girlfriend, key worker, and an old friend); is Cam ready to rejoin the world, or does he still need more time? Georgie Staight (Flood) returns to direct, and the play also features an original score from Benjamin Winter, plus movement direction from Amy Warren.
“We are over the moon to be part of the Breaking Out season. For an emerging company like us we are constantly looking for ways to meet new, like-minded companies and support new work, so it works out beautifully for us. At a time when mental health is a huge talking point, now is the perfect opportunity to bring a play that addresses sectioning head on as it is still a stigmatised aspect of mental health. The play is written in a raw and truthful way which we hope will spark important discussions amongst our audiences, and provide them with a good insight as to what it is like for all those affected when a loved one is sectioned.”
To find out more about Section 2, check out my interview with Jon Tozzi & Peter Imms.
Second Circle Theatre: KISS CHASE (Wednesdays & Saturdays, 7pm)
Billed as “an interactive date night with a difference”, Second Circle Theatre have drawn on interviews with lovers nationwide to present dating in the digital age. From first love and broken hearts, to holding hands and the walk of shame, KISS CHASE shares secrets and explores the barriers everyone faces in forming relationships & finding love.
“We are over the moon that we’ve been selected to perform our second show KISS CHASE as part of The Bunker’s Breaking Out season. We are excited to develop our work with support from a venue which encourages companies to take risks and push the boundaries of conventional theatre. We are learning so much from the mentorship on offer as part of the programme. KISS CHASE is an interactive date night with a difference, which places the stories of real people at the heart of the show and challenges Londoners to switch off from: the chaos, the speed of city life, their mobile phones and instead to tune in and connect with those around them.”
Leoe & Hyde: GUY: A New Musical (Wednesdays & Saturdays, 8.30pm)
With music from Stephen Hyde and lyrics & book from Leoe Mercer, GUY is an electronic musical that explores Grindr and the gay dating scene in Manchester. Guy himself is an overweight millennial, struggling with society’s expectations and being ghosted by his Romeo – will he be able to resist the temptation of pretending to be someone new with the assistance of a dating app? GUY combines traditional musical theatre with modern influences, creating a show that speaks to the 2010s and beyond.
“We grow up hearing stories from previous generations about how musicals like Hair (in the 60s) and Rent (in the 90s) changed everything: they just captured the music and attitude of a generation. People our age clearly want the same, a musical which honestly captures the highs and lows of life and love in a post-internet world. Breaking Out is exactly about finding companies who are aiming to offer fresh stories which the more established world around us doesn’t quite seem to know how to give voice to, and we’re excited to be part of that.”
BREAKING OUT runs at The Bunker Theatre from 11 June-7 July 2018. Tickets can be booked online or from the box office. Double bill tickets can be purchased for £22, and there are a limited number of £10 tickets for U30s at each performance.