Video: Candoco return with new work from Claire Cunningham and Marc Brew!


Catch Candoco Unlimited as part of Unlimited Festival at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on Thursday 6 September. Get tickets here. 

New trailer! The Tiger Lillies perform Hamlet

Catch The Tiger Lillies Perform Hamlet at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall from 18 – 21 September. Get tickets here.

Unlimited Festival starts tomorrow! Watch the trailer here!

Cutting edge, brand new, large-scale: Deaf and disabled-led art has never been so good. LOCOG and Southbank Centre present 29 brand new commissions from Deaf and disabled artists to coincide with the Paralympics.



Catch Unlimited at Southbank Centre from 30 August – 9 September. Get more information on Assisted Performances, Access and tickets here. 

Interview with Martin Tulinius, Director of Hamlet

The Tiger LilliesFrom 18 September, Southbank Centre welcomes The Tiger Lillies and Republique Theatre Company to the Queen Elizabeth Hall with their UK premiere of their ‘Innovative, imaginative and incredible.’ ★★★★★ (Copenhagen Post) version of Hamlet.

Wendy Martin, Head of Performance and Dance and Southbank Centre put some questions to Martin Tulinius, Director of Hamlet and Artistic Director of Republique.

What attracted you to the idea of working with the Tiger Lillies?
When we decided to make Hamlet as a music theatre production, our first thought was to contact The Tiger Lillies. It seemed so obvious. Who are better to capture the strange ambiguous atmosphere that Hamlet possesses?
The way they are able to write beautiful songs in a poetic way about the dark side of human being is unique and something that suits the Hamlet universe very well. In other words the fragility and beauty in the human destruction. Who musically are better to grasp that, but The Tiger Lillies. The Tiger Lillies are the icon of dark, gothic music theatre and cabaret.

Why did you choose Hamlet as the vehicle for the collaboration?
Originally my first thought was to make King Lear. However with the idea in mind to contact The Tiger Lillies it very fast became clear to us, that Hamlet would match their music much better. The more we discussed which Shakespeare play we should decide, the more obvious Hamlet was to us. When I met Martyn Jaques in Prague to pitch the idea, he was almost instantly interested in the project. Their music combined with the artwork and contemporary style that Republique are known for – music, acting, visual and physical performance are integrated in the ways of storytelling – appealed very much to Martyn.

Can you talk about your approach to making the show and the form of the production you’ve created?
In this case we are far from the traditional text version. However I wanted to be true to the essence of Shakespeare´s Hamlet. The challenge was to capture this essence of the heavy and historically based story. We started by deciphering the text to its absolute core. Deviding the story into sequences, that represented the red line in the story. In this case less is more in the sense that we wanted to get into the head of Hamlet, more than keeping all the side stories in Hamlet. And through these sequences we created a Hamlet through words, music, physical theatre and visual tableaus. In some extend we are sensing Hamlet more than ’reading’ Hamlet, so to speak.
What further has been important to me, is to question the insanity of Hamlet. In most versions Hamlet is playing mad as an excuse to discover the truth. I wanted in an indirect way to question Hamlets insanity? In other words to question what is the truth? The truth is told by the eyes we look through. And in this case we see the story through Hamlets emotionally affected eyes. A Hamlet that’s very strongly filled up with anger and discontent. Is he able to see clear and is he really playing mad?

Martyn Jacques is such a strong presence on stage. What is the role of the Tiger Lillies songs in relation to Shakespeare’s text?
I saw from the beginning that Martyn was very connected to this project. Already two weeks after our meeting in Prague he send me 40 songs, which underlined to me that he psychologically was strongly involved in the story. It became very clear to me that The Tiger Lillies shouldn´t just be a band playing in the orchestra, but have an important role on stage. Martyn’s presence is so strong, that there’s no need to go against it. We embraced that involvement. Martyn is the story teller of this version. He´s the sprechtallsmeister the omniscient narrator. But he is also an animation of the figure Hamlet, representing his emotional deroute and his state of mind. The Adrians (Huges: drums/ Stout: bass) are like a greek chorus, participating, when its physical possible in different roles.

The cast includes some very fine actors and also artists with thrilling circus skills. Can you talk about the company and particularly the physical nature of the performances you have created with them?
I chose actors that are strong in text as well as in physical nature. It was of outmost importance since this performance is based on a music, that the actors were able to use their physical appearance to express the story and their emotional state of mind. When we lean so strongly towards the music, which is the primary narrative tool in this version, the actors need not only to be good text actors, but indeed to be able to express the story through their physical expression. As a director I´m very interested in using the body as a narrative tool, and to me I find it interesting to use different art expressions to tell the story. The relation between Hamlet and Ophelia is more present than in most versions. Since music and physical appearance is a strong tool to show emotions, it was important to create at stronger connection between these two characters than we normally experience in traditional text versions, which justifies her emotional deroute and suicide.

Finally how would you sum up for audiences what they might expect from your production of Hamlet?
I hope they are open for a new experience of Hamlet. A Hamlet that’s musically poetic, visual astonishing, physical breathtaking, talking rather to the heart than to the intellect of the spectator. And last but not least a contemporary philosophically different version of Hamlet, thats true towards the core of Shakespeares story, however presented in new and less text based way.

Catch The Tiger Lillies Perform Hamlet at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall from 18 – 21 September. Get tickets here. 

The Tiger Lillies return with their UK premiere of Hamlet


The Tiger Lillies

The Tiger Lillies return with their brand new show – their own macabre take on Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Here’s a sneak peak of what to expect from Soho’s favourite trio.

Have a listen to our SPOTIFY PLAYLIST.

Catch The Tiger Lillies and Hamlet at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall from 18 – 21 September. Get tickets here. 

Bee Detective – Interview with writer and performer Sophie Woolley

Bee Detective, part of Unlimited, is a honeybee murder mystery for Deaf and hearing children aged 6+. Here, writer and performer Sophie Woolley gives us some background about the making of Bee Detective.

Would you be able to tell me a little bit about why you created The Bee Detective?
I wrote a funny play about environmental issues for BBC Radio 4. I loved doing the research and then trying to present stuff people don’t already know in a comedic way. I realised people like learning stuff from plays, as well as seeing their own concerns and absurdities reflected.  So I wanted to try and do the same for a younger audience and everyone is bee mad at the moment so I wanted to dig deeper and see what the situation is for British bees. Me and Gemma (director Gemma Fairlie) wanted to lift the lid on the secret world of bees, make the show we’d want to go to as kids. On tour adults have told us they loved learning new stuff about bees from the play. It’s not an educational play per se but we have woven interesting weird facts about bee life into the plot.

The bees in the play are wiped out by a virus transmitted by varroa mites. It was in the news this summer. Check out my blog for links to the press releases. People know about pesticides but when we started the tour hardly anyone knew about this varroa scourge.

Why did you choose to write for children now?
Unlimited commissions were about stretching the artist beyond their usual practice. I know I can write and perform for adults so I thought I’d try something new and difficult.  It’s also the first show that I would have signed in, but then I broke my shoulder and had to step aside. I also wanted to work with James Merry who is a brilliant Deaf animator who did our fab trailer and all the amazing animations.

I don’t think you have your own children and I think you began to lose your hearing at the age of 18, but were you inspired by any Deaf children you know? Nieces or nephews or friend’s children?
It’s not personal no. I have done quite a few workshops for deaf school children and I can see how starved they are of what hearing kids take for granted. And now the austerity policy cuts are hitting Deaf services for children and deaf education very hard. It’s pretty tragic. The effects are already beginning to be felt by children and their parents. This is the only kids show in the Unlimited commissions.

I wanted to write about bees and kids really love bees, they learn about them in school and like wearing bee costumes etc. Bees are all the rage and I jumped on the beewagon.

Did you look back on your experience as an audience member before you began to lose your hearing and compare it with your experience as an audience member now and feel that you should provide theatre for Deaf children?

I don’t look back. There was a gap where I stopped going to theatre. Then theatre subtitles were invented.

It’s cool to make the show accessible if the money is there. It’s my utopian vision of how a show should be. I like subtitled shows, big subtitles, creatively designed, that are in the middle of the set not shunted off to the side in the corner. Subtitles can be beautiful. I’m trying to show people how modern subtitles should look. I think the company is ahead of its time, I hope one day the  whole world will be subtitled, not just TV.

Catch Bee Detective as part of Unlimited at Southbank Centre from Friday 31 August – Sunday 2 September. Get tickets here. 

Sandi Toksvig live – this weekend at Queen Elizabeth Hall

Sandi Toksvig – comedian, novelist, actor, broadcaster, show-off and international treasure – is embarking on her first major UK solo tour in years to celebrate the publication of her new novel ‘Valentine Grey’. Southbank Centre is lucky enough to be welcoming Sandi back to the Queen Elizabeth Hall this bank-holiday weekend on Saturday 25 August for one night only.

Having been a long-standing host of BBC Radio Four’s ‘News Quiz’ and ‘Excess Baggage’ and regular ‘QI’ panellist, Sandi presents a brand new, uniquely witty evening of stand-up, stories and fascinating facts.

Sandi will also be signing copies of her new book ‘Valentine Grey’ after the show in the Queen Elizabeth Hall foyer.

Sandi Toksvig

This week, Sandi has been at the Edinburgh Fringe performing the show. Here are a few pieces to whet your appetite ahead of Saturday’s show:

Sandi Toksvig on why the Fringe is great
‘The flat we rented which was so large we played golf in the hall.’ Read more here.

Five-minute festival: Sandi Toksvig’s guide to the Fringe.
What did you do 34 years ago at the Fringe?
The terrible thing is, I don’t remember. I know I was 20 years old, and I know it was a sketch show. It was in the basement of a church, and there were many pillars between the stage and the audience. Which would have been dreadful had the audience turned up. But they didn’t, which was good. Read more here.

Sandi Toksvig comes to Fringe with live show My Valentine
You write everything from kids to adult fiction, as well as an array of non-fiction. What inspires you?
I love writing. I think about who I’m writing for and I just do it. I’ve been inspired by the comments of a 12 year old girl, my own son, or just bits of history that inspire me. Different people and things inspire me: that’s how it should be I think to keep it interesting. My latest book, Valentine Grey[which inspired Toksvig’s latest tour] was inspired by a plaque in a church. Everything starts from something and then you just allow yourself to dive into another world. Read more here. 

Catch Sandi Toksvig Live! – My Valentine on Saturday 25 August at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. Get tickets here.