The oversized grass covered armchairs and astroturfed lawns are back in the National Theatre’s Theatre Square marking the return of the annual Watch This Space Festival.
Running from 1 July until 11 September, the jam-packed festival is celebrating its 15th year providing free outdoor theatre and entertainment, much of it suitable for the whole family. Taking place in the square outside the venue’s main entrance, this year’s eclectic line-up features everything from Polish pop to a miniature circus.
To mark Poland taking the European presidency, week one of the 11-week schedule kicks of with the I, Culture Weekend, dedicated to a celebration of all things Polish. As well as music from Gaba Kulka and a giant puzzle installation, Poland’s foremost outdoor theatre company Teatr Biuro Podróży will present the UK premiere of Planet Lem, a sci-fi extravaganza full of robots, aliens and cosmonauts.
Later in the season, renowned street circus act Circolombia will make its London return after a successful run at the Roundhouse earlier this year, Australian company ThisSideUp Acrobatics will present its unique ‘controlled falling’ routine and Chilean clowns Murmuyo y Metrayeta will perform an anarchic show that promises to be terrifyingly funny.
British company The Gandinis will return to the venue with its innovative juggling to present the Pina Bausch-inspired Smashed and the premiere of a new, National Theatre commissioned show Blotched. Also returning for 2011’s Watch This Space Festival is the Alternative Village Fete which will take over the square for the August bank holiday weekend. Presented by Home Live Art, the fete like no other features unconventional artists, cunning craft makers and alternative produce stalls.
This year Home Live Art will also turn the square into a giant inner-city campsite for The Big Sleepover. After toasting marshmallows and enjoying a sing-song, a limited number of people will be allowed to cosy up in their sleeping bags and spend the night under the stars on the South Bank.
The Watch This Space Festival will be collaborating with two other festivals this year: London’s annual disability arts festival Liberty Festival, hosting outdoor performances including Graeae’s Rhinestone Rollers and Deaf Man Dancing; and the Mayor’s Thames Festival Weekend, when over 25 shows will take part in an all-singing, all-dancing project by France’s Compagnie Luc Amoros.
The festival also includes a 21st century take on Punch And Judy, an installation that lets you take a rose tinted look inside a caravan, the chance to have the haircut of a lifetime from Sienta La Cabeza and a custard pie throwing championship. Of the more conventional offerings there are numerous dance and music performances with everything from sultry Tango to a Gypsy ceilidh.
For a full schedule of the events visit www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/wts