London Bubble Theatre’s annual ‘big show in the park’ used to be a high point in the Phantom social whirl. At their real height this wonderful company used to tour the parks of the capital with their trademark promenade performances of everything from Shakespeare to Kurt Vonnegut. A warm summer evening, a glass of something nice and top-notch performers…fantastic.
I loved the way that you felt you were in an entire world when you watched a Bubble show. Things were happening in your periferal vision, just out of sight, that made you really believe that there were chessboard pieces fighting far away in the forest or that Puck really was putting a girdle around the earth in forty minutes.
Over the years I saw them in Chiswick, Highgate, Sydenham, Ilford… heavens, I saw them a lot...
The company’s changed slightly as the world’s changed, becoming more community-oriented and, as the funding dried up the parks got closer and closer to Bubble’s home in Rotherhithe, which, selfishly, was still just fine for me. One of my favourites was Oxleas Wood, which was one of the last places they played one of the ‘big gigs’ before the Arts Council decided they were far too popular. People actually enjoyed their shows which of course meant they shouldn’t be getting any money for That Kind of Thing.
They reinvented themselves with a ‘fan-made theatre’ production or two – basically crowd-funding before the concept was ‘invented’ by hipsters but more recently they’ve been concentrating on community based projects. They have one this week; more about that later in this post.
But to my exciting news. Jonathan Petherbridge, Bubble’s Artistic Director, tells me they are planning a Big Park Show in 2016 – sounds like a long way off, but time has a horrible habit of moving on apace.
He hopes to challenge enthusiasts like me to sell at least 10 tickets. Anyone who actually knows my alter ego will know I will be able to do that easily – I have complete faith it will be fantastic. But I’m giving you a heads-up now, to cheer you up on a rather dull Monday morning.
Incidentally, before I move onto Bubble’s stuff going on this week, allow me to recommend a little something in the meanwhile.
If you like good-quality open air theatre, you will do a lot worse than spending a (free, gratis and for absolutely nothing) evening with Steam Industry Theatre up at the Scoop by London Bridge. They create (usually) three linked shows in an evening – the first will be family-friendly; as the evening wears on the content becomes more adult – for example when they did the Oresteia a couple of years ago, they started out with the story of young Oedipus as knockabout farce (no, really), working up to people screaming and covered in blood by the time the tinies were in bed. They’re doing the Ring Cycle this year – I can’t wait.
But back to the Bubble. If you’re free this week – starting this lunchtime (sorry about the late notice) check this lot out:
Creativity and Wellbeing Week
Monday 2nd June
The Start of Something 1-3.30pm
Female artists from London Bubble, young women from a local secondary school and female employees from Norton Rose Fulbright come together to consider their experiences of creativity and well being. During the session they will create an artefact which will be presented for discussion at the ‘theatre as connector’ conversation, later in the afternoon.
Theatre as Connector – a Conversation 4.30 – 6pm
Join representatives from London Bubble, Southwark Youth Offending Service, the Metropolitan Police and other agencies to discuss how we connect and build social wellbeing through theatre. The session will begin with a presentation of the artefact created at the earlier ‘the start of something’ session.
Tuesday 3rd June
‘Story Bubbles’ for young children and their grown up 1.45-3pm
Come along with your child to a Story Bubbles session, have some fun together, make up a story and act it out. Suitable for families with children aged 2-6yrs
Creativity and Wellbeing for children and their adults – a Conversation 4-5.30pm
Join this conversation if you are interested in the enjoyment and importance of intergenerational creativity. Representatives of Children’s Centres, Early Years Educators, Drama Practitioners share some insights and challenges about working creatively with young children and their grownups.
Wednesday 4th June
Theatre-making, Performance and Wellbeing 2.30-3.30
A conversation with Julia Voce about her work as Associate Artist Care and Creativity with London bubble, and the making of Ishbel and I.
Ishbel and I (a free performance of a piece emerging from development) 3.30-4.30pm
A play about ‘going to pieces and going on a bike ride’. A solo performer and two bicycles create the music, characters and worlds that take the audience on a moving, hilarious journey examining the minefield of mental illness and its effect on a large family.
Thursday 5th June
Creativity, wellbeing and the urban playground 6-7.30pm
Join us for a panel led discussion on Creativity, wellbeing and the urban playground, as:
· Paul Heritage, People’s Palace Projects
· Justine Kenyon, Wandsworth Arts Council
· Jocelyn Cunningham, Arts and Society
· Jonathan Petherbridge, London Bubble Theatre
explore how current artistic practice sits in a public or civic context, and its benefits on social and personal wellbeing.
There are many definitions of such work – participatory, community, dialogical…but what difference do such initiatives make and do people appreciate it?
What are the politics and mechanics of it?
Friday 6th June
Making is connecting 2-5pm
Inspired by recent research linking working with our hands to personal and social wellbeing, London Bubble are planning to throw open their workshop to the local community. But should it be a Men’s Shed, or a Community Workspace, or even a Hackspace ?
Join us for some whittling and some wittering as
· Martin Dittus – Hackney Hackspace workspace
· Michael Breakey – Artist/Maker and Workshop Animateur at London Bubble
· And member of the Men’s Shed movement
Discuss and demonstrate the quietly radical effects of coming together to make something.
All events are free to attend but require booking. To book or more details visit www.londonbubble.org.uk or call 02072374434