Ovalhouse Theatre’s Demolition Season will bring the house down ahead of Brixton move

By Robert Perry
October 12 2019, 13.15

Performers at Ovalhouse theatre will quite literally bring the house down during a final series of destructive shows calling time on its Kennington home.

Demolition Season runs to November 30 and contains four productions, each a collaboration between theatre makers and structural engineers that destroy different aspects of the building.  

Ovalhouse will leave its current site in December which will be demolished as part of a development by The Oval cricket ground, with the theatre set to re-open in Brixton in 2021.

Head of theatre and artist development Owen Calvert-Lyons (pictured above) said: “We are presenting some extraordinary work that can only ever be done in this context.

“This moment, where it is the end of a building in a celebratory way, is really rare. I would encourage audiences to come along and see something, and be a part of the final moments of this extraordinary building.”

The Demolition Season programme was compiled after Ovalhouse made a public request for performance proposals that weaved destruction into their narratives.

Artists who were selected then worked directly with teams of engineers and builders to translate their concepts and stories of demolition into drawings and physical plans.

The season’s first production, We Dig, opened last week and sees performers excavate through the main stage and beyond, with audiences in the front rows given protective goggles and ear plugs.

Owen said: “We had a full house and a really lively response from the audience. Lots of people were on their feet at the end – it’s the moments we are all in it for.”

Demolition Season includes three other bulldozing shows – the apocalyptic This Is How We Die; a political look at plot holes in Gaping Hole (Story #3) and love during dark times in Kissing Rebellion.

After leaving its Kennington home of over 80 years, Ovalhouse will work off-site throughout 2020 putting on a series of pop-up spectacles at locations across Brixton.

Owen said: “We are in discussions to take over a shop, a gallery and a football pitch so there are some exciting ideas in development.

“This is a way of us starting to meet our new audience and giving them a taste of the sort of things they might be able to expect in our new building.”

The theatre’s new site on Somerleyton Road will be a multi-million pound development featuring two fully accessible auditoria and seven rehearsal spaces.

Owen believes the purpose-built premises will become a hub for development and creation and will improve audience experience while maintaining a distinct ethos.

He said: “We will still be continuing with our usual artistic policy of telling the most urgent stories that need to be told right now, telling fiercely contemporary stories that have a socio-political message, that are politically important at the same time as being experimental.”

For more information and to book tickets visit Ovalhouse’s website.

Feature image credit: Ludovic Des Cognets.

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