For my latest article for A Younger Theatre I focus on the Soho Theatre and the new collection of works known as Soho Rising.
Even with the growth of London and the ever changing times, Soho is still known as an artistic hub and home to some well established and emerging theatre.
Soho Rising is the first of its kind. A festival of new shows from Soho’s hottest home grown talent with the youngest member involved being 22 years old. It is a celebration of brave new writing and you can catch the festivities from 15 March to 9 April.
“It came to happen by talking to people about some of our flagship shows like Bitch Boxer and how well known they were and we wanted to let people know where they came from and how they grew into such big shows.” Steven Marmion, the artistic director of Soho Theatre said. Marmion also commented on the past twenty years in Edinburgh: “I was amazed to see how safe and reserved a lot of the mainstream shows were up there, when it’s normally a place of brave and experimental theatre. We saw that a lot of brave new work was actually coming from these guys and we needed to show them off in London.“
This season Soho Rising is made up of a whole host of shows, with a lot of the people involved coming from the Soho Theatre Youth Company (SYC) and as well as from other artistic outlets and classes.
Soho is different for everyone and is constantly changing, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worst. As Marmion commented: “We are looking for young diverse voices that have not been heard. Soho is associated with interesting people, indefinable shapes and sexuality and Soho’s all across the world have a similar vibe.”
“The underline theme is about spring and arising, new beginnings. Currently in society there is a general urge to do things before it’s too late, something is always bubbling on the surface whether it’s as a nation in regards to elections and so on or personal and individual. This easily translates onto stage and within the shows we may see someone who is trapped or escaping a situation.”
Soho has been a hot topic in the media, especially over the last year or two and a lot of big theatre names are supporting the ‘Save Soho’ campaign. “If Soho was sanitised and pedestrianised it wouldn’t have the same calling. It is in some danger yes, but it’s not like the final scene of Watership Down just yet [ he laughs], but all support is welcome and appreciated.’’
The Soho Rising season is bound to be a good showcase for theatre and emerging talent, “You will see people that will be big names in the future, whether that be actors, directors or behind the scenes”
We also managed to speak to a few of the people involved in some of the shows at the festival such as Will Cowel, Artistic Director of Caligula’s Alibi: “Soho Rising is a great opportunity to show IDIOTS to a wider audience. For us Soho is where our audiences are – people who seek out performances that bite back – the kind of work that is truly original and does not stem from zeitgeist or topicality.”
“For me, it’s brilliance and appeal as a venue is its breadth of programming.” Jasmine Woodcock-Stewart, director of Antler’s If I Were Me continued: “I love that at Soho you can see a Philip Ridley play, next to a show by Made in China next to a work in progress by Stewart Lee. That openness and diversity is so exciting, and as a result there’s a huge mix of audiences which is ace. So yeah, it’s a buffet. A really, really good buffet. There’s something for everyone.”
Soho Rising is playing at the Soho Theatre from 19 March to 9 April. Idiots is on 29 March to 2 April and If I Were Me is on 22 – 26 March.