Southbank Centre has announced the first shows to be presented as part of Unlimited Festival 2016, a six-day festival showcasing the artistic vision of disabled artists.
Among the 2016 festival highlights is the world premiere of Assisted Suicide: The Musical (10-11 Sep), conceived and starred in by disabled artist and activist Liz Carr (BBC’s Silent Witness, Ouch!), known for her darkly comic take on life and opposition to assisted suicide. This new theatrical extravaganza subverts conventional notions of choice, dignity, compassion and quality of life through music, comedy, and spectacle.
Also receiving its premiere is The Way You Look (At Me) Tonight (6-7 Sep), a new work by leading dance artist Claire Cunningham and international choreographer and performer Jess Curtis. Reuniting a decade after they first worked together, this thought-provoking piece sees the duo collaborate with Dr Alva Noë, an acclaimed professor and philosopher of perception at University of California, Berkeley USA, to examine the way we look at each other, and ourselves.
First presented in September 2012 to coincide with the London Paralympic Games, Unlimited Festival returned to great acclaim in 2014. The festival is an opportunity to discover groundbreaking new works spanning diverse artforms, including dance and performance, visual arts, comedy, music, literature and theatre, presenting projects from around the world that demonstrate the power of art to transform lives. Coinciding with the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, Unlimited Festival takes over the Royal Festival Hall site from Tuesday 6–Sunday 11 September 2016 with an eclectic and packed programme of free and ticketed events as well as platforms for discussion and debate.
From puppetry to pop-up sound installations, show-stopping musical numbers to intimate exhibitions, Unlimited festival covers a vast range of disciplines and themes. Works presented include commissions from the Unlimited programme, an unprecedented £2.4million, three-year initiative funded by Arts Council England, Arts Council of Wales and Creative Scotland which funds disabled artists to produce work which aims to transform our perception of the world.
These include the Royal Festival Hall shows from Liz Carr and Claire Cunningham, alongside works by Aaron Williamson (Demonstrating the World), Bekki Perriman (The Doorways Project), Cameron Morgan (TV Classics Part 1) and more to be announced in the summer.
Also featured during Unlimited festival is the Southbank Centre debut of Japanese artists Koji Nishioka, Makoto Okawa and Yasuyuki Ueno (Nama no Geijutsu: Japanese Outsider Art), and the return of Beautiful Octopus Club, celebrating 30 years as London’s longest-running multimedia club night and featuring leading DJs and performers from across the learning disability scene.
With the space to present their work and share their practice more widely, many of the artists appear at Southbank Centre for the first time, bringing with them humour, honesty, and a spirit of artistic adventure. Participatory activities include Unlimited festival's first inclusive youth dance platform in partnership with LINKED and a Young Producer’s programme (supported by Unlimited Impact), offering young deaf and disabled people hands-on experience to train alongside Southbank Centre's Producers, Event Managers and Participation Producers and produce work within the festival.
Tamsin Ace, Head of Festival Programming, Southbank Centre, said:
“We are incredibly excited to announce the first details of our third Unlimited Festival. Southbank Centre passionately believes that the arts should be available to everyone, regardless of background, race, gender, or disability. Unlimited Festival truly demonstrates the importance of this by showcasing what extraordinary work is being made by disabled artists today. The festival has always sought to push boundaries and to provide a platform for discussion of the most topical issues of our day. So we are particularly proud to be presenting the world premiere of Liz Carr’s Assisted Suicide: The Musical, a brave, intelligent work which highlights how art is a vital tool to explore even the most taboo of subjects. Southbank Centre has built a reputation on the strength of its festival programme and commitment to bold, ambitious programming; we're delighted to bring together the Unlimited commissions with an exciting offering of free events, participatory projects, and even more to be announced over the coming months.”
Click here for all DAO's coverage of Unlimited-commissioned works, and keep an eye on DAO's listings for the latest Unlimited programme details.