Opening at this end of this month, the UK’s fastest growing arts festival returns to Waterloo

VAULT Festival announce their biggest, boldest
and bravest programme yet

VAULT Festival, one of the largest curated arts festivals in the world, has announced more than 400 shows for their 2019 programme. Now in its seventh year, VAULT Festival returns to London from 23rd January to 17th March with the best in new writing for theatre and comedy, immersive experiences, cabaret, live performance and late night parties. Their exciting and diverse programme features shows from more than 2,000 artists, with 53% of work being female-led and 25% of work coming from LGBTQIA+ artists. Starting in 2012 with only 25 shows and 7,000 attendees, VAULT Festival has become the fastest growing arts festival in the UK, hosting over 350 shows in 2018 and welcoming more than 70,000 audience members.

In 2019, performances will take place across Waterloo with multiple spaces located underground in the festival’s central hub, The Vaults. Other festival venues include London’s secret community performance space The Network Theatre, upstairs at The Horse & Stables pub, Granby Place, and the Travelling Through Bookshop on Lower Marsh where you can catch fresh material from television favourites and hot new comics. Unit 9 on Leake Street will be a space dedicated to ground-breaking immersive performances while other pop-up venues include shipping containers, caravans and escape rooms.

For 2019, VAULT Festival is delighted to support two important causes: Help Refugees and All ticket transactions for VAULT Festival will provide audiences with the opportunity to donate to Help Refugees, providing humanitarian aid to displaced people around the world. will host an exclusive stage at The Horse & Stables pub and receive a percentage of ticket sales to support their Team Mum campaign, helping to fund pregnancy services in rural Kenya that offer health information and medical support for new mothers.

VAULT Festival will continue its partnership with WeAreWaterloo, supporting the local community with a range of initiatives aimed at residents and under 25s. The Festival is expanding its engagement scheme with SURGE, a brand new pilot programme of cross-arts projects, working with schools in the area to provide workshops and outreach performances.

Proudly supported by leading theatre publishers and performing rights agents Nick Hern Books, the VAULT Festival New Writers Programme will offer an eight-week practical writing course for prospective writers of any age, enabling them to develop a piece of writing for the stage, culminating in a public showcase in the final week of the Festival. VAULT Festival will also offer up to 10,000 2-4-1 tickets through their Official App Partner Stagedoor.

In collaboration with Meantime Brewing, VAULT Festival will be adding to their array of bars with a specially designed and purpose-built new craft beer bar. Local culinary masters PopCo will be serving up an EU inspired menu. The festival is investing in 12,000 reusable cups to significantly reduce single-use waste, alongside a switchover to paperless tickets, a ban on plastic straws, and a guarantee that all food and beverage packaging is biodegradable or recyclable.

The VAULT Festival team commented, VAULT Festival started as an idea to bring artists and audiences together in an unusual space, in exciting spaces, to see if we could make a new model for the creative industry. A few years later, our audience has stuck with us and grown beyond our wildest hopes. We want VAULT Festival to be the people’s festival, designed around the audience, the artists, and our staff, without unfairly disadvantaging any of them. They are the very core of what makes VAULT work, and what makes us special.

Including shows with rubber ducks, 90s RnB, and a border collie, there’s something for everyone at VAULT Festival 2019.


Headlining VAULT Festival, the immersive folk opera Counting Sheep returns to the UK for the first time since its award-winning run at The Edinburgh Fringe in 2016. This brand new adaptation, reimagined by the directors of the Belarus Free Theatre, is a deeply personal retelling of the Ukrainian Revolution, exploring the real-life narrative of the creators who fell in love on the barricades of Maidan Square. With folk singing, found footage and revolutionary staging, this electrifying exploration of human resilience invites audience members to be part of the revolution.

Also running for a full eight weeks, the makers of Counting Sheep present the London premiere of Balaklava Blues – an ethno-bass live set, coupled with archive footage, iconic Soviet cartoons, and the polyphonic blues of the Ukrainian plains.

New Diorama Theatre joins forces with VAULT Festival to showcase some of the UK’s most exciting ensemble work. Staging some of their recent Edinburgh hits, the NDT/VAULT Festival Takeover includes A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad), a hilarious yet gut-wrenching story about depression from Olivier award-winning playwright Jon Brittain, Kill the Beast’s Director’s Cut, an achingly funny comedy staged on the set of a 1970s horror movie; and, winner of a Stage Edinburgh Award, sell-out show Queens of Sheba – a funny, poetic and unflinching look at misogynoir. The season culminates with The Faction reviving their electrifying production of The Talented Mr.
, breathing new life into Patricia Highsmith’s extraordinary psychological thriller about an infamous and deadly conman.

Representing the highest calibre of work from the Fringe, VAULT Festival will host the winner of the
Summerhall Award, The Myth of the Singular Moment, and Pleasance Award winner, Ladykiller. Born in part out of co-creator Jim Harbourne’s experience with Huntington’s Disease, The Myth of
the Singular Moment is scored by a contemporary folk soundtrack and tells of the choices we make
and those we don’t as multiple realities coincide and diverge. Ladykiller is a blood-soaked jet-black
comedy offering the feminist case for female psychopaths: it’s not what it looks like, really, it’s not –
it was self-defence and, anyway, the woman was asking for it.

And there’s more for true crime fans as the macabre finds a spine-chilling home in The Vaults’underground tunnels. Based on the 2010 case, Kompromat follows the final hours of the GCHQ agent murdered and folded into a sports bag. Both assassin and victim find and lose their chance to escape in this tense thriller. Pufferfish is based on the real and astonishing story of Jeffrey Dahmer who took the lives of 17 young men in the 1980s. It digs through the homophobia of the initial reporting of the case and attempts to uncover the links between fear and desire, beauty and horror.

Other theatrical highlights include Tilda Swinton Answers an Ad on Craigslist with Instagram and Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Tom Lenk as Tilda Swinton, who comes to the rescue of a depressed gay man. Physical theatre ensemble The PappyShow present a cycle of plays in an exciting venue takeover including: Boys, a celebration of manhood with the things about boys you never get to see; Girls which explores the complex yet joyous stories of women of all ages; and Care, a touching
tribute to the NHS. Orlando from Lucy Roslyn and Josh Roche is the story of Virginia Woolf’s character through the sixties, the AIDs crisis and the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando; it interrogates society’s insistence on boxing up identities. Irish company MALAPROP’s Jericho considers the world we live in and explores wrestling, journalism and confusing entertainment and politics. Katie & Pip is about the relationship between Katie, a Type 1 Diabetic teenager, and Pip, her border collie, trained to save her life on a daily basis. Making an invisible disability visible, it celebrates living life to the full, with help from an actual dog in performance.

Following the recent trend of reclaiming Herstory, VAULT Festival sees several new shows telling the stories of women marginalised by history. 10 is the history of Britain since Boudicca told by ten influential women while Rascal Theatre’s Galvanise sees three young women rediscover forgotten female leaders from across the world. New musical The Limit puts the self-taught mathematician Sophie Germain centre-stage exploring how she disguised herself as a man to submit work. Lola is the rich feminist unpicking of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita which gives the eponymous character a voice to express her justifiable rage and discuss self-harm, stalking and extremely large breasts.

Family Fun

Bobbing their way back to London, Faceplant Theatre return with One Duck Down, an eco-friendly family comedy inspired by the 7,000 rubber ducks that spilled into the ocean in 1992. Winner of Best Family Show at VAULT Festival 2018, this musical production about oceans and plastic pollution would make David Attenborough proud. Also promoting environmental responsibility with a twinkle in their eye, Blue Planet III is a nature documentary from two interns determined to fight rising sea levels and pollution to film the third series of Blue Planet within a flooded BBC.

Encouraging inclusivity and creativity, Spun Glass Theatre’s Princess Charming is a topical exploration of gender identity for children aged seven to eleven. This hilarious play enables them to deeper understand their own identities and, in doing so, break free of gender stereotypes. Singing, dancing and teaching Cantonese vocabulary, Boh Boh Finds Home is the interactive adventure and debut show from Little Bean Theatre which allows families to travel through the galaxy together. How to Date a Magical Creature features a multi-award winning BAFTA and Olivier-winning cast who create a brand-new improvised chat show every night as the most famous fantastical beasties reveal their most intimate secrets and gossip.


Returning for its second year, the VAULT Comedy Festival comes to venues across Waterloo with even more shows, more talent and more brazen humour. With further opportunities to see the start of something special, catch works-in-progress from household favourites like James Acaster, Phil Wang and Desiree Burch and debut hours from the most exciting up and coming acts such as Helen Bauer, Chloe Petts and Kayla Macquarie.

Elf Lyons will channel her inner Elton John to perform Love Songs to Guinea Pigs. With songs about, for and to guinea pigs, Lyons explores love and affection in her most personal show to date. Catherine Bohart presents new work, following her successful debut Immaculate, while Max and Ivan try things with two mics and a projector and Tom Parry celebrates life, love and losing your tie.

There is also the chance to catch critically acclaimed shows, transferring down from the Edinburgh Fringe. William Andrews embraces the Willy he always was, telling remarkable stories with a beguiling blend of daft creativity and ingenuity in Willy. Rob Oldham’s Worm’s Lament keeps the jokes firing even as he considers politics, youth and death. The endlessly inventive Josh Glanc brings Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chamedian south of the river. The frenetic sketch show Just These, Please uses comic absurdity to take on Bags for Life and Albus Dumbledore while The Free Association are joined by very special guests to create spontaneous and hilarious sketches based on audience suggestions.


Kicking the weekends off with blowout parties and irresistible iniquity, the Festival’s series of Lates promises nights of adventure. On Saturday 2nd February, Pecs Drag King Collective will be giving VAULT Festival the chance to be King for a Night. Visit the Mansformation Station to get ready for hot cabaret performances, sweaty dancing, 90s RnB and all your favourite drag kings. Other highlights include a Valentine’s Special Eat Your Heart Out! from Shotgun Carousel, the critically acclaimed team behind Divine Proportions. From raunch to romance, it will be one huge celebration of all flavours of feminist love with a multi-room extravaganza of bands, DJs, cabaret and, even, a sham wedding chapel. Rounding off the explosive programme, immersive specialists SPECIFIQ and Rogue Productions return to VAULT Festival with RUCKUS, a raucous St Patrick’s Day shindig with a vintage gangster vibe. Join us underground because no one parties like the Irish Mob.

And this is only a taste of the incredible programme, head to for full listings and more information about all the shows heading to Waterloo for the Festival. VAULT Festival promises to set alight your long winter nights in 2019.