Features Published 14 March 2019

Theatre’s Plans for Brexit Weekend

A tear-stained rundown of all the ways in which the UK's theatre scene will mark Britain's (probable) parting of ways with the EU.
Alice Saville

‘Performing Britain’

What are you doing for Brexit weekend? Honestly, I don’t want to think about it. I watch live news feeds with the same repulsed compulsion that forces me to look at the patches of vomit that litter Sunday morning street pavements. Certain key words (‘second referendum’) trigger an automatic brain shutdown, that can only be reversed by eating enough sugar to temporarily trick me into thinking I’m halfway through a bag of pick ‘n’ mix in the popcorn-scented safety of Streatham Odeon. Yesterday, I heard that an otherwise normal family friend is readying for a barter-based economy by stockpiling 3000 cans in her cellar, and my first reaction was ‘seems sensible’. So, like those which refer to pantomimes, emails with ‘Brexit’ in the subject line get filed away with a shudder. But they have to be opened. Please hold my hand through this trip inside my inbox, and into some of the plans the UK’s theatres have for the last weekend in March.

National Theatre Scotland’s Dear Europe has a valiant line-up of performances by Scottish artists and theatremakers, with enigmatic titles including Aquaculture Flagshipwreck and Cadaver Police In Quest Of Aquatraz Exit.

Thirty artists will assemble for Performing Britain, a 24-hour, Pay What You Can succession of interventions across the city of Leeds, which will explore ideas of nationhood, Britishness, and anti-migrant feeling.

The Goethe-Institut offers us Folding Europe, billed as ‘A Towel Art Convention by Quast & Knoblich’. A site-specific workshop will teach the techniques you need to fold your misery away.
Middle Child’s Us Against Whatever is a new cabaret show made by a team of English and Polish creatives, exploring how we find home and something to believe in. Also, there might be karaoke.

The Royal Court is hosting the album launch of The State Between Us, a collaboration between thousands of musicians and singers across the EU under the banner of ‘Matthew Herbert and the Great Britain and Gibraltar European Union Membership Referendum Big Band’.

Luca Silvestrini’s Border Tales, a multi-media dance show drawing on the migrant experience, is playing a one-off performance at The Lowry, followed by a discussion on the role of culture in integration in post-Brexit Britain.

Przymierska’s one-woman show Wesele/Wedding, performed in Polish and English at Chat’s Palace, is a joyful interactive absurdist wedding party, followed by a late-night disco.

Camden People’s Theatre is staging Brexit Carnival, a queer cabaret which will bid a dragged up farewell to Europe.

Theatre Deli, Camberwell is hosting The Great British F*** Off Festival, a weekend-long festival of comedy and scratch performances that opens with ‘Music Without Borders’, a night of songs and folklore by artists from Poland, Italy, the Balkans and more, and also includes Hannah Ringham’s performance Die or Run.

Starting its national tour in Guildford, Diary of An Expat is a comedy about becoming British and then struggling to adjust to a London where the European dream is melting away.

In Madrid, No Sleep Til Brexit/We’re Still Here will hosts artists including Action Hero, Andy Field Christopher Brett Bailey, Deborah Pearson and Sleepwalk Collective. They’ll perform work with Spanish subtitles alongside Madrid artists, in a “wild burst of optimism in the face of the unknown”.

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Alice Saville

Alice is editor of Exeunt, as well as working as a freelance arts journalist for publications including Time Out, Fest and Auditorium magazine. Follow her on Twitter @Raddington_B