Shubbak Festival – ‘A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture’


11-26 July 2015


‘A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture’


Shubbak (meaning ‘window’ in Arabic) is London’s largest biennial festival of contemporary Arab culture.  For its third festival, which runs from the 11-26 July, Shubbak presents its most ambitious programme yet, with UK premieres and new commissions from artists across the Arab world. This year’s festival will present a truly varied programme designed to appeal to London’s population in all its diversity.


Festival highlights include:


  • Key strand of the visual arts offering is Art in the Public Realm, including sound-art installations, sculpture and street art, and the first ever UK mural by ‘calligraffiti’ artist eL Seed
  • Music highlights include the festival’s opening concert at Barbican Centre featuring a host of celebrated Arab musicians, including Karima Skalli and the Asil Ensemble, and world premiere of scenes from Cities of Salt, the forthcoming opera by Syrian composer Zaid Jabri at the Royal Opera House, based on the classic titular novel
  • A weekend of literature and storytelling at the British Library courtesy of some of the Arab world’s most acclaimed writers
  • Arab theatre in London showcased by works at four of the city’s most innovative venues: the Arcola, Bush, Young Vic and Cockpit Theatres
  • Badke, a collaboration between Belgian choreographers and Palestinian dancers, inspired by Dabke, the popular Palestinian folk dance
  • Film programme curated by noted Palestinian director Michel Khleifi
  • Free outdoor events including Eid on Trafalgar Square, with food, live music and activities for all the family


Omar Al-Qattan, Festival chair says: Shubbak may today be the world’s premier festival of Arab culture, with the widest scope, freedom and variety. Incredible artists from across the Arab world are participating, helping us understand their world with greater lucidity and deeper empathy.

Eckhard Thiemann, artistic director of Shubbak says:

We are immensely proud to have brought together an ambitious programme that invites artists to speak in a multitude of voices about what matters deeply to them. London is intrinsically connected to the Arab world. Shubbak amplifies these links through connecting Arab artists with audiences in London.


The 2015 Shubbak programme includes:



As a major new initiative this year, Shubbak presents an Art in the Public Realm strand to encounter the work of Arab artists in London’s urban fabric, unusual locations or in dialogue with historic collections. The strand includes sculpture installations, street art, performative interventions and sound art.

Art in the Public Realm includes:


For his first UK commission, celebrated French Tunisian ‘calligraffiti’ artist eL Seed paints a large-scale mural in the heart of London’s urban art quarter.  Blending Arab calligraphy with graffiti techniques, eL Seed has developed a distinctive and striking style, fusing poetry and language with dramatic design to create large-scale work. His creations adorn the 47m high minaret in the Southern Tunisian city Gabes, a wall on the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, motorway underpasses in Qatar as well as walls in New York, Melbourne and Jeddah.

Commissioned by Shubbak. Supported by British Council

The Stage for Any Revolution is an installation created by Kuwaiti-Puerto Rican artist Alia Farid for Edgware Road’s Nutford Place. This stage or piece of ‘urban furniture’ is for public use, from sitting to sharing discussions, or for making declarations or speeches. Over the course of the festival the ‘stage’ will come to life with a series of performances and it will see the launch of a new publication Continuous City: Mapping Arab London. A collaboration between Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art and the Edgware Road Project at the Serpentine Galleries,Continuous City: Mapping Arab London maps London through its historical and contemporary Arab communities. The Stage for Any Revolution is commissioned by Serpentine Galleries, British Council and Shubbak.

To celebrate the launch of Continuous City: Mapping Arab London Qatari-American artist and writer Sophia Al Maria has produced a sound piece based on her father’s first visit to the Edgware Road in the 1970s and loosely inspired by Tayeb Salih’s 1966 post-colonial novel Season of Migration to the North. Commissioned by Serpentine Galleries, British Council and Shubbak.


Based on improvised carts used by street merchants in Morocco, Younes Baba-Ali re-imagines the Carroussa Sonoreas a vehicle to present sound art. Offering a personal selection of sound works from Arab and international artists, the artist will display the Carroussa Sonore, in the foyer of Chelsea Theatre throughout the festival. It will also travel to Victoria & Albert Museum, Portobello Road Market and the World End Estate. Shown in Marseille, Rabat and Brussels, this is its first UK visit.

Another Day Lost is an installation across five sites inspired by, and based on, the Syrian refugee crisis by Syrian-born, UK-based artist, Issam Kourbaj. These installations are scattered around London, mapping out and reflecting the geographic pattern of refugee presence outside the borders of Syria. The ‘camps’ are constructed out of waste materials, such as medicine packaging and discarded books, and encircled with a ‘fence’ of approximately 1,500 used matches: each match represents a day lost since the beginning of the Syrian uprising.

Street Art is a fast growing movement in the Gulf. Engaging with the public realm and frequently using humour, irony and references from popular culture, the works range from subtle interventions to large-scale murals. Shubbak and the British Council have invited some of the most exciting emerging artists to make their mark in London’s urban spaces. Artists include Fathima Mohiuddin and the Riyadh-based Shaweesh and Tala Al Zeid.

The Nomad by leading Dubai-based Khalid Shafar is a contemporary architectural reinterpretation of the Arish – a traditional Gulf house placed in the iconic surroundings of the Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground at Chelsea College throughout Shubbak, The Nomad now invites you to sit, meet, converse, study and relax.

 Supported by: Dubai Design District (d3) & Abu Dhabi Festival


The Great Court at the British Museum becomes the stage for two artists working between drawing and performance. Moroccan choreographer and dancer Radouan Mriziga performs his solo ‘55’. Exploring the body’s relationship to space through simple gestures and with quiet intensity, Mriziga gradually measures the space and creates an intricate floor pattern. Alexandrian born Nazir Tanbouli creates large-scale drawings, starting from simple marks and gradually covering the ground. In the process of drawing it becomes a performance. For Shubbak Tanbouli will create new 12m long works inspired by the British Museum and a recent research trip to Egypt.

In 2012, leading Lebanese artist Ziad Antar went on a photographic journey, capturing many of the large-scale works by world-renowned artists on Jeddah’s famed corniche including works by Joan Miró, Henry Moore, César Baldaccini and Aref Al Rayes. Some of these sculptures were covered and protected from the construction work around them. Ziad Antar photographed these mysterious and hidden monuments and translated them into a new series of seven sculptures – Derivable Sculptures– which will be sited at the Riverside Walk Gardens by 60 Millbank. Produced by Selma Feriani Gallery.

Lebanese artist Raed Yassin will show his work in the unique surroundings of Leighton House.  The exhibition Kissing Amnesia, includes Yassin Dynasty, a series of beautiful porcelain vases made in the Chinese porcelain capital Jingdezhen, depicting battles from the Lebanese civil war. The colourful, intimate and ornamental embroideries of the series Dancing, Smoking, Kissing stitch together memories and recollections from the artist’s childhood in the absence of photographic records.  Artist, turntablist and all-round musician Raed Yassin also creates a special electronic and turntabling set for the unique surroundings of Leighton House and his exhibition.


Exhibitions taking place in Shubbak include:


At the Hayward Gallery a group exhibition – Echoes & Reverberations – explores performative approaches to aural culture and oral history from Jumana Emil Abboud’s weaving of Palestinian folktales into contemporary life to Joe Namy’s interest in collectively performed sound and music.


A Prologue to the Past and the Present State of Things at Delfina Foundation, is a constellation of performances, videos, objects and archival material charting key moments in the Arab region and throughout the world. This group exhibition launches Staging History an initiative by Delfina Foundation to support research and new commissions on performance art from the Arab region and beyond.

The Road Bloc Collective is a group of artists and activists from across the Arab world, who explore how power inscribes itself in urban space through architecture and images. Featuring photography, sound works and installation,Road Block at Rich Mix enacts the ongoing battle for space and claims for ‘the right to the city’.

Curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath of Art Reoriented, I Spy with My Little Eye… at The Mosaic Rooms explores a shift in individual concerns within a new generation of artists connected to Beirut. This exhibition showcases the rise of a young movement including Caline Aoun, George Awde, Mirna Bamieh, Nour Bishouty, Pascal Hachem, Cherbil-Joseph H. Boutros, Aya Haidar, Geörgette Power, Joe Namy, Stephanie Saade, Siska, Lara Tabet & Tala Worrell.


What Is Home?, is it the building, town or country we live in, the people we live with or even the objects we surround ourselves with. Visitors to the quasi-domestic exhibition at the Pump House Gallery are invited to assume the role of the resident or collector as they view works by artists including: Manal Al Dowayan, Faten Eldisoky, Walid Elsawi, Amina Menia and Moataz Nasr.


Visual artist Monira Al Qadiri curates a thought-provoking evening of short satirical films from the Gulf – Jaykar: The Cheeky Video Scene of the Gulf – at the Crossway Foundation.  In the past few years, sharp political and social critique has found a home in satire. In Saudi Arabia in particular, the production of online YouTube series has exploded; comedians, filmmakers and artists fiercely compete to stay relevant on social media. The programme will feature a collection of short films from this burgeoning scene, in an attempt to paint a portrait of this cheeky Jaykar (a Gulfi transliteration of the word Joker) character that both eludes and disrupts the status quo.




Shubbak’s music programme combines masters of classical Arab music, scenes from the opera ‘Cities of Salt’, and with the latest talent from alternative and club music scene.

Shubbak’s opening concert, co-presented with the Abu Dhabi Festival, brings together some of the greatest musicians from across the Arab World. Moroccan singer Karima Skalli joins the Asil Ensemble to perform three Burdas–song cycles combining poetry and music, inspired by the greatest Arab composers and poets across the centuries. A well known classical Burda with words from the 12th century poems of Al Busari and the famous Nahj El Burda of Umm Kulthoum, with words by Ahmed Shawqi, join a new composition by oud virtuoso Mustafa Said, to words by contemporary Palestinian poet Tamim Barghouti. 

The concert is preceded by a free concert honouring the ‘Arab Paganni’ Sami Al Shawa.

Presented by the Foundation for Arab Music Archiving & Research (AMAR) in association with Abu Dhabi Festival.

Originally from Aleppo, Hello Psychaleppo, aka Samer Saem Eldahr, is the founder of Electro-Tarab and rapidly gaining recognition as Syria’s preeminent electronic artist. For Shubbak, Hello Psychaleppo creates a new videoShahba (another name for Aleppo) by mixing original video footage from his hometown, sampling the music of Aleppian singer Nehad Najjar, and blending it with his own illustrations to pay homage to the city that formed him. Co-commissioned by Shubbak, British Council and The Space.

Artist, turntablist and all-round musician Raed Yassin will create a special electronic and turntabling set for the unique surroundings of Leighton House and his exhibition. Remixing classic popular Arab music with playful nostalgia and cheeky irreverence, his music will inject a mesmeric and haunting soundscape to London’s most orientalist building. Raed Yassin is an essential figure on the Lebanese experimental music scene. He is a founding member of the Irtijal Festival and Annihaya records in Beirut and has performed widely across the Middle East, as well as the US, Japan and Europe.

Supported by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the British Council

At Royal Opera House, Prize-winning Syrian composer Zaid Jabri presents a world premiere concert performance of four scenes from his new opera Cities of Salt. Writers Yvette Christiansë and Rosalind Morris provide the libretto, adapted from Peter Theroux’s translation of the seminal novel of the same title by Abdelrahman Munif. The opera is written for full orchestra with seven soloists and chorus; this concert will feature scenes from each of the opera’s three acts.

Jabri’s music for Cities of Salt skilfully draws on Arab and European musical traditions, infusing the Western symphonic tradition with a sense of the Middle East through the use of microtones and vernacular traditions. His intelligent score brings this modern and timely tale to life in all its poignancy and violence. Performed by Southbank Sinfonia, conducted by Michal Klauza.

Kuwait-based multimedia artist Zahed Sultan performs a live set, especially created for the Barbican Art Gallery as part of Doug Aitken’s Station to Station: A 30 Day Happening (27 June – 26 July). Using existing and new material created in a short residency on-site, the immersive audiovisual performance uses song arrangements, including his signature tracks Hakatha and I want her but I don’t want her, to atmospherically weave live acoustic and electronic sounds to create intense and mesmerising audio-visual landscapes. Commissioned by Shubbak and British Council. Produced by the Barbican.


The Eid Festival on Trafalgar Square is the Mayor of London’s community event to celebrate the end of Ramadan. It includes a food festival, live music and fun activities for children and families. Between 2-5pm on Saturday 25 July, Shubbak presents three hours of rousing open-air festival music on the main stage. Straight from Alexandria comesMassar Egbari -Egypt’s most popular alternative band, mixing rock, jazz and blues with oriental music. 47 Soul -the border defying collective of Palestinian musicians- arrives from Womad, bringing with them the energetic beats of Dabke, Shaabi and Electro-Arabic. Karama, led by oud player Soufian Saihi performs a set inspired by ‘Gnawa’, ancient African Islamic spiritual religious songs and rhythms, Arabic classical music and the diverse sounds of London.

The MixShubbak Music Finale at Rich Mix unites international Arab music talent in a rousing festival music finale. Straight from playing Trafalgar Square Massar Egbari  share the main stage with 47 Soul and  Hello Psychaleppo,while in  Studio 1 sound-artist Karim Sultan joins folktronica singer-songwriter Reham and Karama, led by Soufian Saihi, playing  music inspired by Gnawa and classical Arabic music.


At Rich Mix award-winning Tunisian actor and director Meher Awachri performs the UK premiere of D-Sisyphe, a night in the life of Khmais, a Tunisian construction worker in the midst of an existential crisis. Based on story of Sisyphus this monologue (in Arabic with English subtitles) with contemporary dance and physical theatre, confronts topics of religion, revolution and individual will.

London has a rich sector of Arab theatre makers creating new work. Shubbak highlights four examples of Arab theatre making in London:

At the Cockpit Theatre London-based El-Alfy Theatre Company presents The Tree Climber by Tawfik Al Hakeem, Egypt’s most renowned playwright of the 20th century.

Bahadir Effendi, a retired train inspector, finds himself in a whirlpool of problems when his wife, Behana disappears. The subsequent plot includes a detective, a lizard, a time-travelling dervish, and a magic tree, who all contribute to turn the quiet life of a married couple upside down. The Tree Climber is a fast-paced farce and a major work of absurdist theatre in Egypt. Adapted by Perdita Stott and directed by Ahmed El-Alfy.

Sevan K. Greene’s Nahda (Awakening) is a collection of four short plays at the Bush Theatre telling stories of the confusion of second generation children of refugees, the conflicted fate of Arab Muslim soldiers, the West’s fascination with consumerism, and five generations of women using Facebook for political agency. Sevan K. Greene asks how personal freedom and identity can be conquered under the pressure of conflicting forces.


Love, Bombs & Apples at the Arcola Theatre is four comic tales of four men from different parts of the globe experiencing a moment of revelation. Written by Hassan Abdulrazzak (Baghdad Wedding), performed by Asif Khan, directed by Rosamunde Hutt,  designed by Mila Sanders with music by James Hesford.“Exhilarating…The dialogue is quick, sardonic, full of character” – The Observer on Baghdad Wedding”. Presented by AIK productions.

Razor Sharp brings together at Rich Mix three of London’s foremost Arab women writing for the stage today:Hannah Khalil, Yamina Bakiri and Malu Halasa. Collaborating with the same cast, and responding to current affairs, Razor Sharp will present a series of three rehearsed readings tackling a wide variety of topics. A showcase of satire and gentle mocking from Arab women who are not afraid to put pen to paper and tell it like it is. Presented by Sandpit Arts.

Now Is The Time To Say Nothing at the Young Vic explores the ongoing conflict in Syria through the eyes of young Londoners collaborating with young Syrian filmmaker Reem Karssli. Featuring moving video and a stunning soundscape, this powerful and immersive Young Vic Taking Part production will run for a limited period.




Hafla on the Square (Hafla means party) at 7 World’s End Place celebrates the first day of the festival with a free family-friendly afternoon of live music, art and drop-in workshops. London-based Egyptian artist Nazir Tanbouli  will create a giant floor painting while Variant Space construct an installation and Farouk Al Safi holds one of his popular tabla drumming circles. The music stage will present some of London’s best Arab musicians, including the Yaz Fentazi Trio, described by Time Out asa wicked fusion of chaabi, gnawa and jazz’.


In the post-colonial age, Arab urban life has often borne witness to destruction, through civil wars, foreign invasion and religious conflict. Old customs and architectures have been erased; in their place, a new landscape of globalization has emerged. Disappearing Cities of the Arab World at the British Museum explores issues of architecture, post-colonialism, globalisation and psycho-geography. It brings together writers, artists, historians, architects and urbanists to explore the complex space that is the contemporary Arab city. Speakers include Ziauddin Sardar on Mecca, Eyal Weizman on architecture of occupation, as well as writers and artists offering dispatches from cities across the Arab region. Presented by Mosaic Rooms.


A homage to Michel Khleifi

The celebrated Palestinian director Michel Khleifi is 65 this year and Shubbak has invited him to mark this occasion by curating the festival’s main film programme: a themed, personal selection from his own films in dialogue with works of Arab and European cinema. Spread across three venues, the season explores representations of Palestine and the Arab in European cinema, as well as the struggle for the emancipation of women.



Visions of Palestine is a triple bill of seminal documentaries: Location Hunting in Palestine  is a record of  Pier Paolo Pasolini’s visit to the Holy Land in 1964 scouting for locations for The Gospel According to St Matthew;   Description of a Struggle  by French auteur Chris Marker about Israeli identity and the treatment of Arab minorities was Winner of the 1961 Golden Bear for Best Feature-Length Documentary at the Berlin International Film Festival and Ma’loul Celebrates its Destruction by Michel Khleifi is about the destruction by the Israeli armed forces of Ma’loul, a Palestinian village in Galilee in 1948. The former inhabitants are only allowed to visit once a year, on the anniversary of Israel’s independence, and have developed a new tradition: they have a picnic on the very site of the destroyed village.



The Struggle for Female Emancipation includes Fertile Memory by Michel Khleifi the first full length film to be shot in Palestine, combining documentary with narrative to craft portraits of two very different women: Farah Hatoum, a 50-year old widow living in northern Israel and Sahar Khalifeh, a divorcee living with her daughter in the Israeli occupied West Bank. The Season of Men by Moufida Tlatli, the first female feature film director in Arab cinema –tells the story of 18-year old Aicha in Djerba, who is married to Said who works 11-months of the year in Tunis. Aicha wants to follow Said to Tunis. Said agrees but imposes one condition: first, she must bear him a son.


Representations of the Arab in European Cinema includes Out of Life by Maroun Baghdadi set amidst the turbulence of Beirut’s 15-year long civil war and inspired by the kidnapping of the French journalist, Roger Auque; the critically acclaimed family drama Couscous (aka The Secret of the Grain) from the multi-award winning Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche (Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013) following 60-year old shipyard worker Slimane Beiji as he attempts to realise his dream of converting a dilapidated boat into a family restaurant specialising in fish couscous; Ali: Fear Eats the Soul is one of the most powerful films by the great German auteur Fassbinder. An unlikely whirlwind romance blossoms between Emmi, a 60-year old German widow and Ali, a Moroccan migrant worker in his 30s; Wedding in Galilee by Michel Khleifi was the first Palestinian film to appear at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the International Critics’ Prize in 1987. It tells the story of Abu Adil, the mayor of a Galilean village, who is determined to celebrate his son’s wedding with all the traditional Palestinian fanfare. The village is under an Israeli military imposed curfew, which means that Abu Adil also must invite the military governor…



Canticle of the Stones is Khleifi’s second feature film. It tells the story of star-crossed lovers, Bushra and Makram. Parted in the 1960s when Bushra emigrates to the US, heartbroken after Makram’s imprisonment for resisting the Israeli occupation, the pair meet again years later when she returns to Jerusalem at the height of the first Intifada;Forbidden Marriages in the Holy Land, also by  Michel Khleifi, is a  documentary on mixed marriages between inter-faith and inter-racial couples from Israeli and Palestinian societies; Route 181: Fragments of a Journey in Palestine-Israel –  in the Summer  of 2002 Israeli and Palestinian filmmakers, Michel Khleifi and Eyal Sivan travelled the length of their country of birth. Tracing their trajectory on a map, they called it ‘Route 181’ after United Nations Resolution 181 – the 1947 partition plan of Palestine into two independent states. This 3-part documentary follows the filmmakers as they meet people along the route. A rare chance to see all three parts of the seminal travelogue across two days.


At the Barbican Cinema Queens of Syria, a documentary directed by Yasmin Fedda, tells the story of sixty women from Syria. Forced into exile and now based in Jordan, they came together in 2013 to create and perform their own version of The Trojan Women, Euripides’ timeless Ancient Greek tragedy about women in war.  Fedda was award the Black Pearl for ‘Best Documentary Director in the Arab World’ at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival for the film in 2014. This screening will be the London premiere.


Masasit Mati is one of the most influential activist artist collectives from Syria. In 2011, as the Syrian uprising began, they created the seminal Top Goon – an online series of sarcastic and irreverent puppet theatre films. Top Goonreached more than 180,000 YouTube hits and nearly 1,000,000 Facebook followers, becoming a defining internet sensation. Now dispersed across several countries, the creators unite for the first time again to create Top Goon Reloaded: Intimate Diaries of Evil. The films will include a live actor as well as newly created puppets by renowned Beirut puppet theatre Kollektiv Kahraba. “We use satire, parody and biting humour to touch people, their dreams, their feelings, and the contradictions we live with.” – Masasit Mati. Online: and  


Inspired by Dabke, the wildly popular and infectious Palestinian folk dance, Badke is a collaboration between Belgian choreographers Koen Augustijnen, Rosalba Torres Guerrero (les ballets C de la B), Hildegard De Vuyst(KVS) and ten Palestinian performers from different dance backgrounds, including traditional dabke, modern dance, hip-hop, capoeira and circus. The 10 dancers of Badke turn it into thrilling, anarchic theatre: an eruption of joy and an affirmation of belonging. The dancers push themselves to new extremes, driven by Nasser Al-Faris’ infectious soundscore. “A hurricane of energy, smiles and leaping bodies. Badke offers an hour of amazing moments of collective dance performed by ten Palestinian performers” Le Soir. Produced by Southbank Centre.

The 60s and 70s were the heyday of popular Arab cinema. Singing, dancing and smoking divas filled the screens and enchanted audiences of all ages. With When The Arabs Used to Dance at The Place, Tunisian choreographerRadhouane El Meddeb harks back in a bittersweet production to this glory age, now performed by four men, and pared down to existential intensity.

Into the Night: Three Works by critically acclaimed Algerian choreographer Nacera Belaza at the Sadler’s Wells Lilian Baylis Studio offers a chance to witness her physical ideas unfold over a longer encounter of three distinctive works Les Oiseaux, La Nuit and La Traversée. Central to Belaza’s last 20 years of investigation is the search for freedom conveyed by a distinctive form of meditative minimalism, creating a thousand images without ever singling one out. Produced by Sadler’s Wells.

’An abstract and minimal dance, but sensual and extremely captivating’ – Le Figaro


Literature Festival | British Library Conference Centre| 25 & 26 July

Shubbak will present a weekend of literature and storytelling with some of the finest writers from across the Arab World. From poetry to novels, from new literary forms to graphic novels, the Shubbak Literature Festival explores the depth and diversity of current Arab writing in the UK, Europe and across the Arab world.

Highlights include:

Elias Khoury in conversation with Marina Warner – One of the true greats of Arab literature, Lebanese author Elias Khoury is the author of a number of award-winning novels, including the effervescent Gate of the Sun, which the New York Times called ’a genuine masterwork’. He will be discussing his work, writing in the current climate and his inspirations, in conversation with award-winning author, academic and critic Marina Warner.


Panel discussion on The ‘New Generation’ of Writers: experimental forms, renegade subjects. Author, activist and cultural commentator Bidisha will discuss new forms of writing and taboo busting with Syrian writer Shahla Ujayli, Omani author Jokha al-Harthi, and controversial Yemeni writer Ali Al Muqri, author of sexually and religiously daring novels such as The Handsome Jew and Hurma.

Panel discussion on writing in times of conflict and crisis. Featuring the great Palestinian poet and author Mourid Barghouti, whose I Saw Ramallah (Bloomsbury 2004) won the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature and was described as “one of the finest existential accounts of Palestinian displacement we now have” by Edward Said, Kurdish poet Choman Hardi, based in Iraqi Kurdistan, whose work has focused on the Anfal genocide and forced migration, and has featured on the UK GCSE curriculum, and young Syrian short story writer and journalist Rasha Abbas, a contributor to Syria Speaks (Saqi Books, 2014) in discussion with Daljit Nagra.


Mourid Barghouti will also take part in ‘The Astonishing Form’: an evening of poetry from across the Arab Worldwith a variety of radical, powerful and unexpected voices.

Featuring performances and readings in English and Arabic (with translation) by one of Palestine’s greatest living poets,Mourid Barghouti, British Egyptian performance poet Sabrina Mahfouz, Iraqi poet Ghareeb Iskander and Palestinian performance poet Rafeef Ziadeh.

Discussion on the new wave of Science Fiction in the Arab World – From utopian dreams to dystopian nightmares, could a new wave of Arab science fiction spur us to reimagine alternative futures in the Middle East and beyond?Sindbad Sci-Fi’s producer Yasmin Khan joins forces with Shubbak to beam up a stellar panel of visionary writers, including Egyptian Ahmed Khaled Towfik, author of Utopia (BQFP, 2012), Iraqi Ahmed Saawadi, the author of the IPAF-winning Frankenstein in Baghdad (Al-Jamal, 2013) and Iraqi playwright Hassan Abdulrazzak, author of a short story about an alien invasion of Baghdad

Across the Arab world comics and graphic novels are blooming and blossoming, with the genre fast becoming a key fixture of the literary landscape. Paul Gravett, co-curator of ‘Comics Unmasked’ at the British Library, chairs an illustrated discussion with pioneers of the form Lena Merhej, co-founder of the Samandal collective in Lebanon,Andeel, co-founder of Egypt’s Tok-Tok and Libyan-British manga-influenced comic writer and artist, Asia Alfasi.

There will also be discussions on the rise of Arabic literature in English, Arab writing in European languages, discussions with pioneers of the comic form, children’s events, film screenings a book stall run by Saqi Books and readings from prominent authors including International Man Booker Prize finalist Hoda Barakat.

Other literature events include Speaking Truth to Power at the Free Word Centre,  with three leading writers from the Middle East debating the limits of freedom of expression in the region and beyond. Sinan Antoon is an Iraqi author currently living in New York, whose novels include The Corpse Washer and Ya Mariam. Choman Hardi is a Kurdish poet whose family were forced to flee Iraq several times. Samar Yazbek is a Syrian writer and journalist now living in exile and recipient of 2012 PEN/Pinter Writer of Courage award.

In Poets on the Frontline at the Southbank Centre as part of Poetry International, celebrated poets Choman Hardi(Iraqi Kurdistan) and Ghareeb Iskander (Iraq) are reunited with Kei Miller (UK/Jamaica), who visited Erbil for last year’s literary festival, to offer poetic dispatches from the frontline and discuss the challenges of capturing conflict in the crosshairs of verse.

For booking visit venue websites.




For further information contact Anna Arthur/ Lana Lay at Arthur Leone PR

0207 836 7660 or


Barnum Review

Grand Theatre, Leeds – 15 April 2015

Mr Phineas T Barnum has pitched up in Leeds and now you should follow the band to the Grand to see the “greatest Show on Earth”

Brian Conley plays the title role of Barnum – American Showman extrodinaire. Showing off his “miracles” and acts with a hint of “humbug” with his motto that there’s a sucker born every minute. Conley more than earns the applause that welcomes him on stage, he is the perfect person for the role – acting, singing performing magic tricks and circus skills including walking a tightrope.

The show introduces PT Barnum just before he sets up his famous American Museum in New York in 1841 leading up through his time in office right up to the time he meets Mr Bailey (John Stacey) and they open their world famous circus. While Barnum introduces his most famous attractions – including a 160-year-old lady and a 25-inch man, who have great song and dance routines of their own – a ringmaster introduces the main action. This includes the dramatic unveiling of Mrs Barnum, “the female of the species”, about to meet her husband having been kept waiting for an hour and 14 minutes … the sparky, loving wife, Chairey (Linzi Hateley) who has a few tricks of her own, including a double headed coin.

While maybe short on memorable songs, the show has some great scenes especially ones with elements of comedy. Landi Oshinowo is really good as the 160 year old nurse of George Washington and Mikey Jay-Heath as Tom Thumb. And of course the act with class, Jenny Lind (Kimberly Blake). The show has an impressive set designed by Scott Pask, great lighting designed by Paule Constable, magical effects and imaginative choreography from Andrew Wright. Paul Wills’ colourful Victorian circus costumes  and Linda McKnight’s wonderful wigs.And to the orchestra who are elevated above the stage rather than down in the pit. Even the Grand itself is transformed with lighting to look like the inside of the big top.  And even before the show starts we are treated to some breathtaking and hilarious performances from the versatile cast.

Cameron Mackintosh’s touring production, which was developed from the hit Chichester Festival Theatre 2013 production, is a spectacular show. Its a gentle love story and a a mix of never giving up and triumphing over adversity. By the end of the show, however, it does not really matter whether you are there for the music, the aerial work, circus tricks or the storyline; ultimately, this show oozes class and it is clear that no expense has been spared in the staging. its a fabulous show, ideal for all the family.


MAMMA MIA! New Booking Period






The global smash hit musical MAMMA MIA! at London’s Novello Theatre is now extending its booking period until 23 April 2016, taking the show through to its 18th playing year in London.

From West End to global phenomenon, MAMMA MIA! is Judy Craymer’s ingenious vision of staging the story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs with an enchanting tale of family and friendship unfolding on a Greek island paradise.  To date, it has been seen by more than 54 million people in 49 productions in 16 different languages grossing more than $2 billion at the box office.

MAMMA MIA! originally opened in London at the Prince Edward Theatre on 6 April 1999, before transferring to the Prince of Wales Theatre in 2004.  The musical re-opened at the Novello Theatre in 2012.


The London production of MAMMA MIA!, which celebrated its 16th birthday on 6 April, has been seen by more than 10% of the entire UK population.  The show has celebrated over 6,500 performances in London and has broken box office records in all three of its London homes.  In 2011, it became the first Western musical ever to be staged in Mandarin in the People’s Republic of China.  


Produced by Judy Craymer, MAMMA MIA! The Movie, starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan, is the highest grossing live action musical film of all time.


With music & lyrics by Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus, MAMMA MIA! is written by Catherine Johnson, directed by Phyllida Lloyd and choreographed by Anthony Van Laast. The production is designed by Mark Thompson, with lighting design by Howard Harrison, sound design by Andrew Bruce & Bobby Aitken, and musical supervision, additional material & arrangements by Martin Koch.


MAMMA MIA! is produced by Judy Craymer, Richard East & Björn Ulvaeus for Littlestar in association with Universal.



Novello Theatre


London WC2B 4LD

Monday to Friday Prices:  £65.00, £37.50, £20.00, £15.00

Saturday Prices:  £67.50**, £52.50, £39.50, £20.00*, £15.00

*£25.00 from 27 April 2015, **£69.50 from 26 October 2015

Please note: Saturday pricing applies to all performances 25-30 May, 27 July-29 August and 26-30 October 2015, 28 December 2015 – 2 January 2016, 15-20 February and 25 March – 9 April 2016

A £2.25 per ticket booking fee applies to tickets booked online, and a £2.75 per ticket booking fee applies to tickets booked by phone. No booking fee on tickets purchased in person at the Novello Theatre Box Office.

All prices include £1 restoration levy, which will increase to £1.25 for performances from 27 April 2015.

Early Bird Pricing – anyone booking four months or more in advance of the performance they are attending (Monday to Thursday performances only) will be able to purchase £65 tickets for £45, a saving of £20 on the regular top price, but only through Delfont Mackintosh Theatres, either online, in person at the theatre, or by calling the Novello Theatre Box Office.

Performance Times:

Monday – Saturday 7.45pm

Matinees – Thursday & Saturday 3.00pm*

*extra Tuesday matinees on 11 August & 27 October 2015 & 16 February 2016

Christmas 2015/16 Performance Schedule

Monday 21 December                                           7.45pm

Tuesday 22 December                                           3.00pm and 7.45pm

Wednesday 23 December                                    3.00pm and 7.45pm

Thursday 24 December                                         NO PERFORMANCE

Friday 25 December                                               NO PERFORMANCE

Saturday 26 December                                          3.00pm and 7.45pm

Monday 28 December                                           3.00pm and 7.45pm

Tuesday 29 December                                           3.00pm and 7.45pm

Wednesday 30 December                                    3.00pm and 7.45pm

Thursday 31 December                                         3.00pm

Friday 1 January                                                      7.45pm

Saturday 2 January                                                 3.00pm and 7.45pm

Currently booking to 23 April 2016

The performance lasts 2 hours and 35 minutes (including a 15-minute interval)

Box Office: 0844 482 5115


Fiery Angel presents






The Box Office opens today at 9am for the inaugural season of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company. The Company presents Plays at the Garrick, a series of plays that bring together an exciting group of actors, led by Rob Brydon, Judi Dench, Lily James and Richard Madden. Performances begin on 17 October 2015.

Judi Dench. Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company. Credit Johan Persson (8)THE WINTERʼS TALE
By William Shakespeare
17 October 2015 – 16 January 2016
Press performance: 7 November 2pm
Shakespeareʼs timeless tragicomedy of obsession and redemption is reimagined in a new production co-directed by Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh, following their triumphant staging of Macbeth in Manchester and Manhattan. Judi Dench will play Paulina, Kenneth Branagh will play Leontes.

Rob Ashford. Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company. Credit Johan Persson (2)HARLEQUINADE
by Terence Rattigan
24 October 2015 – 13 January 2016
Press performance: 7 November 7.30pm
In this rarely seen comic gem, a classical theatre company attempts to produce The Winter’s Tale and Romeo and Juliet, while the intrigues and dalliances of the company members are accidently revealed with increasingly chaotic and hysterical consequences… The behind-the-scenes world takes centre stage in Terence Rattiganʼs affectionate celebration of the lunatic art of putting on a play. Kenneth Branagh will perform and co-direct with Rob Ashford.

Rob Brydon. Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company. Credit Johan Persson (7)THE PAINKILLER
by Francis Veber
In an adaptation by Sean Foley
5 March 2016 – 30 April 2016
Press performance: 17 March 7pm
Two men. Two lonely hotel rooms. An adjoining door…
One of them is a killer… one of them wants to die… What could possibly go wrong?
Sean Foley directs his darkly hilarious adaptation of Francis Veberʼs classic French farce as Kenneth Branagh and Rob Brydon reprise the roles they played to great acclaim at Belfast’s Lyric Theatre in this comic tour-de-force.

Lily James. Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company. Credit Johan Persson (10)


By William Shakespeare
12 May 2016 – 13 August 2016
Press performance: 25 May 7pm
Reuniting the stars of his celebrated film of Cinderella, Kenneth Branagh directs Richard Madden and Lily James who play the leads in Shakespeareʼs heartbreaking tale of forbidden love.

Kenneth Branagh. Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company. Credit Johan Persson (5)THE ENTERTAINER
By John Osborne
20 August 2016 – 12 November 2016
Press performance: 30 August 7pm
Set against the backdrop of post-war Britain, John Osborneʼs modern classic conjures the seedy glamour of the old music halls for an explosive examination of public masks and private torment. Rob Ashford directs Kenneth Branagh as the unforgettable Archie Rice.



Garrick Theatre
2 Charing Cross Road
London, WC2H 0HH

Box Office: 0844 482 9673
Online Bookings:
Tickets from £15

No booking fees or transaction fees on any ticket booked direct through,, direct telephone bookings at the Garrick Theatre and to personal callers at the Garrick Theatre.


17 October 2015 – 16 January 2016
Press performance: 7 November 2pm
Captioned Performance: 9 December 7.30pm
Audio Described Performance: 16 December 7.30pm

The Winter’s Tale will play in repertory with Harlequinade. Performances of The Winter’s Tale will be as follows:
17, 19, 20, 21, 29, 30 & 31 October at 7.30pm
31 October at 2.30pm
3, 6, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 26 & 30 November at 7.30pm
4, 14, 21 & 25 November at 2.30pm
1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 31 December at 7.30pm,
2, 9, 16, 23, 24 & 31 December at 2.30pm
2, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15 & 16 January at 7.30pm
2, 9 & 16 January at 2.30pm

24 October 2015 – 13 January 2016
Press performance: 7 November 7.30pm
Captioned Performance: 10 December 7.30pm
Audio Described Performance: 15 December 7.30pm

Harlequinade will play in repertory with The Winter’s Tale. Performances of Harlequinade will be as follows:
24, 26, 27 & 28 October at 7.30pm
28 October at 2.30pm
2, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 27 & 28 November at 7.30pm
11, 18 & 28 November at 2.30pm
3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 19, 21, 24, 28, 29 & 30 December at 7.30pm
5, 12, 19 & 28 December at 2.30pm
4, 5, 6, 11, 12 & 13 January at 7.30pm
6 & 13 January at 2.30pm

5 March 2016 – 30 April 2016
Press performance: 17 March 7pm
Captioned Performance: 22 March 7.30pm
Audio Described Performance: 29 March 7.30pm
Performances Monday – Saturday with 2.30pm matinee performances on Wednesdays and Saturdays excluding Wednesday matinees on 5 March, 6 April, 13 April, 20 April and 27 April.

12 May 2016 – 13 August 2016
Press performance: 25 May 7pm
Captioned Performance: 31 May 7.30pm
Audio Described Performance: 7 June 7.30pm
Performances Monday – Saturday with 2.30pm matinee performances on Wednesdays and Saturdays excluding 14 May and 25 May.

20 August 2016 – 12 November 2016
Press performance: 30 August 7pm
Captioned Performance: 6 September 7.30pm
Audio Described Performance: 13 September 7.30pm
Performances Monday – Saturday with 2.30pm matinee performances on Wednesdays and Saturdays excluding 20 August.



Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage – the critically-acclaimed play about Gareth Thomas, the first professional rugby player to come out while still playing – comes to Arcola Theatre this spring (20 May – 20 June 2015) following its current tour. Directed by Max Stafford-Clark, and written by Robin Soans, the play is a co-production by Out of Joint, National Theatre Wales and Arcola Theatre.

A cast of six play all the characters, and each plays Gareth himself at different stages in his story. Full cast: Rhys ap William, Patrick Brennan, Katie Elin-Salt, Daniel Hawksford, Lauren Roberts and Bethan Witcomb.

“I was doing something nobody had done before, and if you’re the first to do something, you have to be prepared to take the sh*t for it.”

On the eve of one of the most important games of his career, Welsh rugby legend Gareth Thomas received a warning: The Sun newspaper was going to “out” him as gay.

This is the story of two Welsh names bruised, but not beaten, by media speculation; Gareth “Alfie” Thomas, 100 caps for Wales, once its captain, now the world’s most prominent gay sportsman; and his hometown, Bridgend.

Working with Alfie himself, and young people in Bridgend, two of the UK’s most exciting theatre companies – Out of Joint and National Theatre Wales – have teamed up to tell a great story about sport, politics, secrets, life and learning to be yourself.

Writer Robin Soans is celebrated for his documentary verbatim plays based on interviews with real people, including Out of Joint’s acclaimed shows Mixed Up North, A State Affair and Talking to Terrorists which was nominated Best Play at the TMA awards and has had subsequent productions overseas including in Tehran. Others include Life After Scandal about Christine and Neil Hamilton, andThe Arab-Israeli Cookbook, which also spawned a book of recipes. His most recent play was the fictional drama Perseverance Drive, which played to great praise at the Bush Theatre in 2014.

Director Max Stafford-Clark co-founded Joint Stock Theatre Group in 1974 following his Artistic Directorship of The Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. From 1979 to 1993, he was Artistic Director of The Royal Court Theatre, after which he founded Out of Joint. His work as a director has overwhelmingly been with new writing, and he has commissioned and directed first productions from writers including Sue Townsend, Stephen Jeffreys, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Sebastian Barry, April de Angelis, Mark Ravenhill, Andrea Dunbar, Alistair Beaton, David Hare and Caryl Churchill. Additionally he has directed for the RSC, Sydney Theatre Company, New York’s Roundabout Theater and most recently The Seagullfor Culture Project, New York. His books are Letters to George, Taking Stock and Journal of the Plague Year.

The show forms part of a season of work about the state of the British media at Arcola Theatre.

Listings Information

Out of Joint, National Theatre Wales & Arcola Theatre with Sherman Cymru present
Written by Robin Soans
Directed by Max Stafford-Clark

20 May – 20 June 2015
Arcola Theatre, London

Box Office:
By phone: 020 7503 1646
24 Ashwin Street, London E8 3DL

Monday – Saturday evenings at 7:30pm
£19 / £15 concessions
Saturday matinees at 3:00pm
30 May, 6 June – £17 / £14 concessions
13 June, 20 June – £19 / £15 concessions
Opening performances (20-23 May) – All tickets £12
Pay What You Can Tuesdays (tickets in person from 6pm – limited and subject to availability)
Tickets are £10 or less with Arcola Passport

Please note: the play includes swearing and sensitive material

Award-Winning Mica Paris to star in Love Me Tender tour










Adam Spiegel Productions, Robert G. Bartner and the Ambassador Theatre Group are delighted to announce that award-winning singer and platinum selling artist MICA PARIS will star as ‘Sylvia’ in the UK and Ireland tour of “LOVE ME TENDER – the new musical inspired by and featuring the music of Elvis Presley. The tour will open on Friday 5 June 2015 at the Manchester Opera House. Full casting to be announced shortly. Full tour schedule below.

Producer Adam Spiegel said: “I’m a huge fan of Mica Paris and as soon as I heard her audition I knew she was perfect for the role of Sylvia. Her incredible, powerful voice and presence does true justice to the greatest hits of the one and only King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley”.

Mica Paris is one of the UK’s most respected female singers with a career of Top 10 hit singles and albums worldwide. The range, power and beauty of Mica Paris’ singing made an immediate impact on the UK music scene in 1988 when she released her debut, platinum-selling album, ‘So Good’ from which she had her first top ten hit, ‘My One Temptation’. More worldwide hit albums and singles followed including ‘Black Angel’, ‘Stay’ and ‘Carefree’.


An incredible live performer worldwide, Mica has collaborated with, and been a special guest for many respected artists including Prince, Michael Bolton, Dionne Warwick, Paul Rodgers, David Gilmour and Jools Holland.


Mica has also turned her talents to the stage, appearing in the West End productions of ‘Mama I Want To Sing’, ‘The Vagina Monologues’ and ‘Sweet Lorraine’ as well as a sell-out residency at Ronnie Scott’s Club. Her TV credits including being a regular host on BBC1’s ‘What Not to Wear’ and an expert judge on ‘Gok Wan’s Miss Naked Beauty’ for Channel 4. Mica has also presented the Radio 2 programme ‘Soul Solutions’. Enjoyed by over a million listeners it one of the most successful soul and R&B shows in the UK.


From the producers of Hairspray, Jersey Boys and West Side Story “LOVE ME TENDER” is a hilarious feel-good musical featuring Elvis Presley’s greatest hits. In a small town in 1950s America, a guitar-playing, hip-swivelling stranger rides his motorbike into town. Is he The Devil in Disguise or a Hound Dog in hisBlue Suede Shoes? The townsfolk are about to be All Shook Up and could be headed for Heartbreak Hotel, but for Natalie, the love-struck, tomboy mechanic, it really is Now or Never.

Packed with 25 of the best loved songs by The King himself, “LOVE ME TENDER”, by the writer of the award-wining West End and Broadway smash hit Memphis, is a funny and moving tale of hope, second chances and the healing qualities of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

LOVE ME TENDER” is Written by Tony Award Winner Joe DiPietro (Memphis) and Directed and Choreographed by Olivier Award Winner Karen Bruce (Saturday Night Fever, Dance ’Til Dawn, Pacific Overtures) with Set Design by award nominated Morgan Large (Flashdance, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof), Lighting Design by James Whiteside (Never Forget, Footloose) Costume Design by Vicky Gill (Dance ‘Til Dawn, Strictly Come Dancing) and Casting by James Orange (The Producers, Sweeney Todd).








Jason Donovan is set to take to the stage in Leeds next month with The King’s Speech – the original play that inspired the Oscar-winning successful film.  Raymond Coulthard will play King George VI and Jason Donovan the Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue.


Telling the iconic story of King George VI’s relationship with his speech therapist, the play comes to Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday 26th to Saturday 30th May.

As the world stands on the brink of war, King Edward VIII sparks controversy with his love for married socialite, Wallis Simpson. As Edward’s position become increasingly untenable, his brother Bertie, who has previously shied away from the public eye because of a terrible stammer, is thrust in to the spotlight as his likely successor.

With the support of his wife Elizabeth (the much-loved future Queen Mother), Bertie meets maverick speech therapist and failed actor, Lionel Logue, at an office in Harley Street. Together they embark on an unlikely journey to prepare Bertie to lead his country as King George VI.


The King’s Speech is the true and heart-warming story of one man’s struggle to overcome his personal affliction and, in his country’s darkest hour, deliver the now iconic speech broadcast across the globe to inspire his people.


One of the most successful British films of all time, The King’s Speech won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director, as well as seven BAFTAs, including Best Film.

The play also stars Nicholas Blane, Jamie Hinde, Felicity Houlbrooke, Claire Lams, Katy Stephens and Martin Turner.

The King’s Speech is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday 26th to Saturday 30th May.


Tickets are on sale now priced from £18.50 to £34.


Book online at or call Box Office on 0844 848 2700.



Interview with Mike Goble, Presenter of Ministry of Science Live.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, please keep your head firmly on your shoulders and your arms and legs inside the ride at all times – Ministry of Science Live explodes onto a stage near you soon!

This is not your ordinary science show – it comes jam packed with fun, laughter and plenty of amazing science and history which includes a fully operational hovercraft, massive cannons with lots of bangs, a push bike that makes the best smoothie ever and look out for Darth Vader playing with plasma! Investigating the inventors and engineers who have shaped the modern world we live in, the audience experience everything from liquid nitrogen flowers to hydrogen bottle rockets, Buzz Aldrin to Virgin Galactic, cat food tins to hovercraft and methane to the invention of the battery. Expect loud explosions and more!

Ministry of Science Live is a fully engaging interactive experience that explores energy and engineering using brilliantly designed demonstrations and historical references as a narrative. Combining stimulating live entertainment with the world of education the show’s primary aim is to inspire and educate young people through the medium of live theatre.

We spoke to the show’s presenter, Mike Goble, to find out more.

In your own words, tell us about the stage show.

Ministry of Science Live is a show that is very exciting to be a part of, having launched in Northern Ireland to a staggering 7,500 people across a week at the CultureTech festival, we’ve just returned from touring the UAE and now we’re embarking on our first UK Theatre tour. I love being part of live theatre – especially when it’s something the whole family can enjoy. One aim of the show is to prove that science is actually fun and to hopefully inspire, not only the kids, but the grown-ups as well to enjoy exploring and learning about the world around us. Maybe one day someone in our audience will be the next great inventor or make a huge scientific discovery….

What can people expect?

I guess people can expect to go away from the show hopefully both entertained and having learnt something new. It’s fun and entertaining with a few loud bangs thrown in for good measure!

Is it really educational as well as fun?

Yes. The starting point of everything in the show is always the science. Then we find a way of presenting it that’s clear, engaging and enjoyable. I present the show with a girl called Emma Blackwell and we have a lot of fun working together and hopefully that comes across to the audience as well.

Is it dangerous in any way for the presenters?

The show is live science and uses a number of gases such as our demonstration that explains the fire triangle which includes igniting hydrogen and oxygen balloons, which when ignited makes a rather large bang right in front of you on the stage. A lot of the elements of the show are dangerous if not handled correctly and by professionals. All the cast and crew are experienced in handling chemicals and gases and have been trained by both scientists and health & safety personnel in order to be able to deliver the show safely to audiences. However, none of the demonstrations on Ministry of Science Live should be recreated at home or school.

How did Ministry of Science come about?

Mark Thompson, the shows writer and director has been involved in family shows for over 13 years working with some of the biggest brands that perform in the UK and around the world. Mark is incredibly passionate about science communication having written the touring productions of Brainiac Live, which recently made it’s west end debut, Science Museum Live!, Guinness World Records Officially Amazing Science Live and BBC Hidden World Live previously. Ministry of Science is his own brand combining the best of education with entertainment. He’s incredibly passionate about science and seriously wants to inspire youngsters about science and engineering – in a fun way.

What age group would be most interested in the show?.

The show works around the curriculum of 6-12 year olds as we want inspire children at a young age to be enthused by Science. However, the style of the show is slick, fun, and full of action so it gets good feedback from the adults as it brings out the big kid in them.

Can the audience get involved?

Audience participation is used throughout the show and some people get to join us up on stage to get a bit closer to the action doing everything from piloting a hovercraft to making a smoothie using a pedal power bike that powers a blender.

What is your favourite part of the show?

Tough question. I have always performed in family friendly shows but this one allows me to play with some very cool gases – so it’s that part of Ministry of Science I enjoy!

If you were not involved with the show, why would you want to come see it?

Well, its jam backed with explosions, chemicals, science, history, engineering and all round a lot of fun. I like seeing live entertainment and this is a show that the younger members of my family would love but also Grandad could come along too and thoroughly enjoy it. I’d come and see it because it would be a fun family trip and just maybe you might discover something about the world we live in that you didn’t know before…

Ministry of Science Live! is at Darlington Civic Theatre on Saturday 6 June. Tickets* are £14.50 for adults and £12.50 for children

To book contact the Box Office on 01325 486 555 or visit

*Includes a £1 restoration levy



The world premiere of F*CK THE POLAR BEARS by Tanya Ronder, and the European premiere of FORGET ME NOT by Tom Holloway will follow the previously announced play THE INVISIBLE by Rebecca Lenkiewicz in the Bush Theatre’s autumn season. The Bush’s acclaimed new writing festival RADAR will also return in November.

First announced in 2014, THE INVISIBLE (3 July – 15 August 2015) is a new play by Rebecca Lenkiewicz about the current government’s reforms to the provision of legal aid. Following cuts totalling £350m, many ordinary people will find their access to justice restricted as their entitlement to free legal aid is withdrawn. Based on interviews with real people at all levels of the British justice system, this play aims to tell the stories of those ordinary people affected by the reforms and to examine how these cuts are driving deeper cracks into the fabric of our society.

Commissioned by the Bush Theatre, F*CK THE POLAR BEARS (11 September – 24 October 2015) by Tanya Ronder is a funny and surreal new family drama about the power of the individual in a world obscured by politics. Gordon has worked hard to get where he is. He’s on the verge of a massive promotion at one of the Big Six energy companies. His wife Serena has worked hard too, and now dreams of a bigger house, a slimmer body, a happier life. But behind their perfect front door, light bulbs are blowing, the drains keep blocking, and a phone inexplicably refuses to charge. As Gordon chases the spectres behind these mysterious events, he spirals out of control and the family are forced to ask whether the life they desire is worth its cost.

FORGET ME NOT (8 December 2015 – 16 January 2016) by Tom Holloway is a co-production between the Bush Theatre and HighTide Festival Theatre. Under an agreement between the British and Australian Governments, between 1945 and 1968, over three thousand British children were told they were orphans and sent to Australia on a promise of warmth, fresh air, abundant food and boundless opportunity. Instead they arrived to deprived institutions where neglect and abuse were the norm. Tom Holloway’s tender new play unearths a secret buried by time that, in turn, exposes a world of historical injustices currently in the limelight. This European premiere reunites the Bush with HighTide Festival Theatre (Incognito by Nick Payne, 2014) and is directed by HighTide’s Artistic Director, Steven Atkinson.

RADAR (November 2015) is the Bush Theatre’s annual festival of new writing, now in its fourth year. Since its inception in 2011 the festival has showcased electrifying new work from Bryony Kimmings, Caroline Horton and Inua Ellams, and has premiered shows including Kieran Hurley’s Beats, Luke Barnes’ Chapel Street and Michaela Coel’s award-winning Chewing Gum Dreams. Last year’s festival also included Simon McBurney in a one-off performance of White Rabbit Red Rabbit. RADAR is hand-picked and curated by the Bush Theatre’s creative team. Full line-up and ticket information to be announced.

The Bush Theatre’s 2015 season has already seen The Royale, directed by Artistic Director Madani Younis, sell out to public and critical acclaim, while Caroline Horton’s Islands split opinion like few other shows in the Bush’s recent history. James Graham’s political thriller The Angry Brigade is the next show in the main house, opening on 6 May – the day before the General Election.

July 2015 will see the Bush Theatre join with Shubbak, London’s festival of contemporary Arab culture, to present Nahda by Sevan K. Greene, produced by Sandpit Arts (15  – 18 July 2015). A collection of four new plays, Nahda examines what it means to be Arab across four strata: familial, political, economical, and social. Initiated by the Mayor of London in 2011, the third edition of Shubbak Festival of Contemporary Arab culture returns to London from 11 to 25 July 2015 and takes place across many of the capital’s leading cultural institutions, including the Bush Theatre.



30 April – 13 June 2015
By James Graham
Directed by James Grieve

Press night 6 May, 7pm

Designed by Lucy Osborne

Mon to Sat at 7.30pm
2.30pm Saturday matinees (from 9 May)
2.30pm Wednesday matinees (from 13 May)

BushGreen Live Debate: Is anarchism a useful political ideology?
27 May, 6pm

Captioned performance 29 May, 7.30pm
Audio described performance 6 June, 2.30pm

3 July – 15 August 2015
By Rebecca Lenkiewicz

Press night 8 July, 7pm

Mon to Sat at 7.30pm
2.30pm Saturday matinees (from 11 July)
2.30pm Wednesday matinees (from 15 July)

BushGreen Live Debate: In an age of austerity, why defend legal aid?
22 July, post-show

Captioned performance 24 July, 7.30pm
Audio described performance 1 August, 2.30pm

15 – 18 July 2015
By Sevan K. Greene

Wed to Sat at 7.00pm
Wed and Sat, 2.00pm

11 September – 24 October
By Tanya Ronder

Press night 16 September, 7pm

Mon to Sat at 7.30pm
2.30pm Saturday matinees (from 19 September)
2.30pm Wednesday matinees (from 23 September)

BushGreen Live Debate: Can the world economy survive without fossil fuels?
30 September, time tbc

Captioned performance 9 October, 7.30pm
Audio described performance 3 October, 2:30pm

08 December 2015 – 16 January 2016
By Tom Holloway

Press night 11 December, 7pm

Mon to Sat at 7.30pm
2.30pm Saturday matinees (from 19 December)
2.30pm Wednesday matinees (from 16 December)

Christmas performance schedule: tbc

BushGreen Live Debate: At a time of public inquiries into historic abuse, how do we maintain public trust in our institutions?
11 January, time tbc

Captioned performance 15 January, 7:30pm
Audio described performance 9 January, 2:30pm

Ticket prices:

Evenings: £20

  • £12.50 concessions (registered unemployed and disabled)
  • £15.50 for Senior Citizens
  • £12.50 for students/under 26s
  • 10% off for Bush Local members

Previews: £15.50

  • £10.50 concessions (registered unemployed and disabled)
  • £12.50 for Senior Citizens
  • £10.50 for students/under 26s
  • £12.50 for Bush Local members

Matinees: £15

  • £10.00 concessions (registered unemployed and disabled)
  • £10.00 for students/under 26s
  • £10.00 for Senior Citizens
  • 10% off for Bush Local members


All tickets £12

Season Offers*

Season 3 for 2
See 3 shows for the price of 2. Valid for top price tickets only, shows must be purchased at the same time. Not valid for previews, matinees or RADAR.

Live or work locally – Join our free local membership scheme Bush Local for £12.50 preview tickets, 10% off all other performances and a 10% discount at the Cafe Bar. For more information and to become a member, visit

Educational Groups – Schools tickets are £10 (matinees) and £12.50 (evenings), plus one teacher goes free with every 10 pupils. To reserve tickets, please call the Box Office between 12 – 8pm.

Bush Connect scheme – A free membership scheme for students and under 26s, BUSH CONNECT offers its members £10-£12.50 tickets for all Bush Theatre productions, a 10% discount at the Cafe Bar, special offers, giveaways and competitions, and exclusive events and networking opportunities.

Group Bookings – Book for a group of 11 or more people and the 11th person will go for free.

*Terms and conditions apply, see the Bush website for further information.



The gripping courtroom drama that’s captivated the West End – Twelve Angry Men is set to visit Newcastle Theatre Royal this summer starring Tom Conti.  Take your seat courtside as battle commences 15 – 20 June 2015.    


Pamela Raith Photography_12AM_060Lauded as one of the great ‘must-see’ movies of all time, Reginald Rose’s Twelve Angry Men originated as a television play and has been successfully adapted for film, radio and stage. The 1957 three-time academy award nominated film version starred andwas produced by Henry Fonda.


The story follows twelve jurors who have murder on their minds and a life in their hands as they decide the fate of a young delinquent accused of killing his father. But what appears to be an open and shut case soon becomes a dilemma for the twelve, as their prejudices and preconceived ideas about the accused, the trial and each other turn the tables every which way, until the nail-biting climax…


The production proved a huge hit in London where it had a record-breaking run playing to sold out houses and receiving multiple five-star reviews, being hailed as the ‘classiest, most intelligent drama in the West End’ (Daily Express).


Tom ContiOlivier Award winner, Tony Award winner and Oscar nominee Tom Conti returns as Juror Number 8, the role made famous by Henry Fonda. Tom is one of the most respected and celebrated actors of his generation – unforgettable as the leading man in hit films such as Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence and Shirley Valentine. Tom and Dame Judi Dench were recently voted the most popular actors in the West End in the last 25 years.

Tom will be joined by six of the original West End cast – Robert Duncan, best known for his role as the as jargon-spouting chief executive Gus Hedges in Drop The Dead Donkey; Andrew Frame, who starred as P.C Hargreaves in Eastenders; David Calvitto, whose many theatre credits include These Shining Lives and The Odd Couple; Mark Carter, whose TV credits include Hollyoaks, Utopia and The Knock and Sean Power, who starred in ITV’s Secret Diary Of A Call Girl and Fright Night 2. Jon Carver, who has had a recurring role in Doctors, returns to play the guard. Taking a seat for the tour will be new jury member Andrew Lancel, best known for playing the villainous businessman Frank Foster in Coronation Street.


Forming the rest of the jury will be Denis Lill, who starred in The Royal and Only Fools And Horses, Paul Beech, whose theatre credits include King Lear and A Tale of Two Cities, Alexander Forsyth, who has starred in stage productions of Porcelain and It Never Ends, Edward Halsted, who starred in Holby City and Jonathan Creek, and Gareth David-Lloyd, who is best known for his role as Ianto Jones in the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood.


This production is directed by Christopher Haydon, artistic director of the Gate Theatre, Notting Hill.


Twelve Angry Men is at Newcastle Theatre Royal Mon 15 – Sat 20 June 2015. Tickets are available from £14.50 (save 50p per ticket by booking online) and can be purchased from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 or select your own seat and book online at