The Enable US Festival returns the Drama Studio during the last weeks of October and November, showcasing eleven great shows, including a world premiere production by acclaimed playwright Howard Barker.
The Enable Us Project saw its first Festival presented in the spring and is a new platform within the University’s Performance Venues for creative expression, exploration, development and debate. The project enables new and innovative performing arts companies to perform in Sheffield, companies that may not have previously had a platform to present their work in the city. It also allows our Students to see this work as part of their academic studies without having to travel to Manchester, Leeds or Liverpool and also provides them the opportunity to work alongside these companies both academically and recreationally.
The last Festival saw sell out performances of the productions Police Cops and Ventoux from 2Magpies Theatre based in Nottingham. The 2Magpies creative team also ran development workshops for School of English students in the Theatre Workshop and additionally, the National Youth Theatre ran their regional auditions in the Drama Studio, as well as presenting week long master classes in Acting for Screen techniques.
The autumn Festival brings a unique collaboration with University based company Theatre from a Dying Civilisation presenting two plays within the Festival.
Theatre from a Dying Civilisation is based in the University’s Theatre Workshop, which is part of the School of English. It was started by Professor Steve Nicholson, the Chair of Contemporary Theatre, and has a commitment to texts which foreground the power of language and the imagination of the writer. Its first production was Lot and His God by Howard Barker (who has been variously described as ‘the Shakespeare of our age’, ‘England’s greatest living dramatist’ and ‘the enfant terrible of contemporary British theatre’), and the company is now staging two further and recent plays by the same author within the Festival.
All This Joseph is a world premiere of an as yet unpublished text for which the company received the special permission and blessing of the author. The productions also directly link Professor Nicholson’s current academic research with teaching and current students, as well as with a public and professional contexts. The casts of the three productions have included professionals, former students and postgraduates. The assistant director and the entire stage management team is made up of 2nd year undergraduates in the School who have taken the opportunity to gain experience in a more professional context.
Although everyone involved is working voluntarily, the project and the productions are financed primarily through a generous bequest made to the University more than 25 years ago by Dr Maisie Glass, which reflected her long-standing commitment to theatre in Sheffield, and to encourage links between University drama and the City.
Professor Nicholson commented ‘To be part of the Enable Us Festival is a terrific opportunity for everyone involved in the company and gives us the ideal context to present the premiere of a new play by a major international playwright’.
As well as the Howard Barker plays, the Festival includes Japanese ghost story Kwaidan, interactive mass gaming show WiFi Wars, Dr David Bramwell’s Dead Flows the Don and the anarchic antidote to a merry Christmas Welcome to Paradise.
All shows are prices at £10.00 or less. Full details and ticket information can be found by visiting http://performancevenues.group.shef.ac.uk/enableus/