Battersea Arts Centre’s (BAC) artistic director Tarek Iskander has been in the job for nine months, and his inaugural season is finally underway.
The Going Global season kicked off last week and runs until the end of May, featuring some interesting and controversial pieces from across the world.
Mr Iskander explained that the driving force behind that decision was both practical, and a statement of BAC’s values.
He said: “I felt quite passionate that we should be supporting and programming more international work because it’s amazing and there aren’t enough venues in London that programme it.
“The other thing is artist development. It’s as much about helping English artists push their own work forward by experiencing international artists and putting UK artists side by side with some of the best international artists we could find.
He explained that working together on common issues and creating something positive was important to the venue.
He said: “We also wanted to say that despite what happens politically, we want to keep an open discussion with our neighbours and share a positive exchange of ideas with people from across the world.
There’s far more to BAC than just the shows they run, and that’s what attracted Mr Iskander in the first place.
“I don’t think I’d have been AD of any other organisation,” he admitted. “It’s been a bit of a dream because I really love BAC. The space feels special, because people who work here are very supportive, generous and push for positive social change.
“It’s about empowering people’s ideas, and that’s what really inspired me. BAC is at its best when it supports others and is a hub for creative people to do their best work.”
After ‘quitting’ theatre three years ago, he said BAC brought him back in ‘the most wonderful way possible’.
“When the chance to become artistic director came up,” he said, “I wanted to contribute to the organisation and it really is a huge privilege to have that opportunity.”
The season boats some interesting shows starting with Autoreverse, which runs until February 22.
Mr Iskander said: “It uses a very different medium to create a unique audioscape that explores moving and complex scenes of a very personal story about what we call home.”
Next up is When It Breaks It Burns, launching on Wednesday (February 19) which was brought in to start a conversation about youth activism and blew Mr Iskander away.
He said: “It’s one of those pieces that combines brilliant art and social change and that’s what BAC really represents.
“Even though all these works all come from very different places and contexts, they all feel very close because they deal with issues that we’re all grappling with.
He added: “People come at it from different viewpoints, but that leads to different solutions.”
Other highlights include unReal City which explores the human connections across an increasingly digital city; Cock Cock Who’s There, a unique and at times uplifting exploration of how to make sense your world after sexual assault.
There’s also Daughter, a show whose take on toxic masculinity provoked serious debate from BAC about whether it should run.
Mr Iskander explained: “It’s definitely controversial, but we won’t hide away from controversy if we believe it’s coming from the right place, and Daughter is a brilliant example of that.
“We concluded that there was nothing sensational about it – it explores a difficult and complex topic in a responsible but provocative way.
“Unless theatres are taking risks and being a bit dangerous, then I’m not sure what we’re here for.”
Find information and tickets here.
Featured image: DAUGHTER by Adam Lazarus. Courtesy of John Lauener