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Open Lab

Theatre and Dance

Louise Varjack, KISS KISS CRY KILL

Barbican Theatre Open Lab 2020/2021

The Barbican Theatre’s Open Lab programme gives artists the opportunity to research and develop a new project, idea or performance.

This year, Open Lab will support the development of six innovative and experimental new works created to be experienced by audiences in a socially distanced manner, whether that’s a live performance or online. Rehearsal space at the Barbican Centre will be available to successful applicants subject to COVID-19 government safety guidance of the time.

We are looking for submissions that develop and create:

New voices

We’re looking to support early to mid-career artists. We’re committed to nurturing and developing creative talents and voices from a multiplicity of backgrounds, practices and contexts and are particularly interested in hearing from people from ethnic minorities, including Black artists/Black-led theatre companies, LGBTQ+ artists/companies, and d/Deaf and disabled artists/companies.

New audiences

We aim to inspire more people to discover and access the arts. We’re looking to support socially engaged, pioneering work from a multitude of voices that reaches new audiences. Your project should be inclusive, rooted in community and explore the potential for people’s mental, physical and social wellbeing to be improved by participation and enjoyment of the arts.

New ideas

We want to support ambitious ideas to safely create and deliver work at the current time. We’d like you to consider how existing forms such as radio, podcast, audio trail, gaming, one on one performance and installation could be used in new ways to broaden the idea of what theatre or dance can be. We’re interested in work that reflects the Barbican’s artistic vision by crossing art forms and embracing innovation.

New challenges

If you’re ambitious, like challenging yourself as an artist and experimenting with new methods, we’d love to hear from you. We want to support you in developing new methodologies and approaches to collaboration during this time.

We are offering:

- An all-inclusive fee of £2,000

- Online development sessions to support self-sustaining practise, this may include sessions from external partner organisations on fundraising, digital output and making accessible performance

- Three in-house training sessions with Barbican staff members from departments beyond the Theatre of your choice such as marketing, fundraising, company development, digital content, creative learning and more

- Three sessions with a mentor or coach selected by you to give bespoke guidance and advice on your project

- A Barbican Theatre Producer for advice and support throughout the programme with whom you’ll have regular updates to discuss the progress of your project

- Complimentary tickets for shows and events at the Barbican on an ad hoc basis and subject to availability

- Additional funding for access requirements is available for successful applicants upon request

Expressions of interest

Deadline: Monday 12 October, 5pm

To apply please send us a proposal that includes:

- A description of your project and how it responds to the brief

- An answer to the question “why this project now?”

- An indication of your longer-term hopes or aspirations for this project and its future audience

- A full list of the artists/collaborators who will be involved in the project and their role

Your proposal does not necessarily need to be submitted in written form or follow a particular format. Video or audio recordings of up to five minutes are also welcome. Written submissions should be up to approximately 1500 words.

Submissions and enquiries can be sent to [email protected] or if  you would like to talk about your application over the phone please email us to set up a time for a call. These calls will last around 15 minutes and are to talk about the programme and application process, we cannot offer artistic feedback. 

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2020 Alumni

Over the last year we have worked with six different artists and collectives listed below.

Paula Varjack and Chuck Blue Lowry met working on an intergenerational women’ s project for Magic Me. They discovered their practices were inverses of each other; Chuck training in performance and then film, Paula training in film and then moving into performance. Working together again on a women’s participation project for Cardboard Citizens and Clean Break, they became keen to bring together their video and performance experience with their work in participation. They have both spent the same amount of their lives in London and lived in different parts of Europe. They both have British fathers and foreign mothers but identify with both cultures. This sparked an ongoing conversation between them about their relationship to being “foreign”.

Louise Orwin is an award-winning writer and performance maker. She makes research-driven theatre projects about subjects that are close to home, hard to get your head around, and need to be spoken about. Often this means making work about what it means to identify as female today, in a fast-moving, media-saturated world that prizes patriarchal, heteronormative narratives. Louise likes to make work that is provocative and brash, intimate, awkward at times, and generally filled with a heady dose of pop culture. Her work has toured all over the UK and internationally, receiving global critical acclaim. Past work includes: viral docu-theatre Pretty Ugly, which was featured national and international press all over the world: and award-winning A Girl and A Gun (Vice, Guardian, BBC). Louise received the Flying Solo Award in 2015, was a finalist for the Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust in 2018, and was part of the British Council Edinburgh Showcase in 2019.

Nouveau Riché is a multi-award-winning arts production company and an ever-expanding creative movement. Discovering, nurturing and producing unique stories from all walks of life. Nouveau Riché make culturally inclusive work that is educational and entertaining, across all art forms.

Claire Gaydon is a theatre-maker and performer creating work in the East Midlands and London. Described as ‘a talent to keep an eye on’ (Gareth Vile, LIST), she specialises in creating research-driven, multi-disciplinary theatre blending social experiment, live performance and multimedia. Recurring themes underlying her work are new technologies, social media and sex. Claire is one of Camden People's Theatre's 2019 Starting Blocks Artists, where she began development on her new show Piece of Me. Her current show See-Through ('Ingenious and thought-provoking' - Lyn Gardner) is touring UK theatres Autumn 2019 & Spring 2020. 

The PappyShow are a playful physical and visual ensemble theatre company. Formed in January 2013 by Kane Husbands in order to provide a space for actors and non-actors to train in physical theatre, they use exercise and training to devise and create work.  Community cohesion and working together is key to the company’s ensemble ethos.  With their performing company, they are currently touring three pieces; 'BOYS', 'GIRLS' and 'CARE'. 

Rachel Mars is a multi-award-winning performance maker with a background in theatre, live art and comedy. Mars’ Our Carnal Hearts won A Total Theatre Award at the British Council Showcase at the Edinburgh Fringe.  With nat tarrab as mars.tarrab she was winner of the 2017 Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award and presented ROLLER in the Pit Theatre. Recent commissions have included Leeds Playhouse, The Junction, Cambridge; Royal Court Tottenham; Fuel Theatre and Ovalhouse. She is a fellow at the Birkbeck Centre of Contemporary Theatre and a regular contributor to 'Pause for Thought' on BBC Radio 2.