If you read this blog regularly, you will know that, for me, the shows at Bell Square are about the stories that affect us all. As the UK struggles with Brexit and how in future we will connect with the wider world, culture can help bring us together, build a shared identity in our community, and help us stay connected with the perspectives of others in our increasingly globalised world.
So, the Bell Square shows this year come from across the UK but from many other countries, too.
In the spring and summer season, we have artists from Newcastle in the far north of England to Penzance in the far south. We have dance from the Midlands - from Birmingham – and we have a show made here in Hounslow. We also welcome artists from Spain and Catalunya, and from Poland and Israel.
All these artists will share their stories with us. Different ideas, perspectives, cultures. Maybe they’ll make us question what we think we know - possibly make us look at our world a little differently. When we have a wonderful mixed community like we have in Hounslow, and we share these experiences together in our public space, I believe it brings us together and helps us understand each other better. Wherever I am in the world, absorbed in a great outdoor performance, I always feel more connected to the people I’m there with.
We will see many artists and companies coming to Bell Square for the first time in 2019 – and we’ll welcome back others who have brought us memorable experiences before.
I hope you will join us at Bell Square this year. We start on Saturday 25 May and will be there every other Saturday through to December. Here’s a taste of what’s to come in the spring and summer.
The new season starts on 25 May with a visit from Birmingham-based dance company, Humanhood, with their latest outdoor show, Orbis. Orbis is about our relationship with the moon and the mystical place it holds in the history of human culture. This is beautiful, contemporary, ritualistic dance.
In June, we welcome back Southpaw Dance Company with Icarus, a dramatic and powerful performance of the famous Greek myth in which the young Icarus is obsessed with the desire to fly. As he flies too close to the sun, his soaring ambition leads ultimately to his tragic, untimely death.
Later in June, Bash Street Theatre bring their new show, Bellevue Hotel, to Bell Square. Bash Street is one of the oldest touring street theatre companies in the UK. Whilst their traditional style with live piano accompaniment is enchanting, their show unpicks an everyday battle of our modern world when a developer tries to destroy a much-loved community asset for their own profit.
On 6 July, Bell Square hosts the very first performance of a brand new show by Joli Vyann. You may remember their thrilling show, Lance Moi en l’Air, in July 2017.
The company will be in residence at Watermans making their new show, Anima, in the weeks leading up to this performance. ‘Anima’ is Latin for breath, life and soul. Joli Vyann’s new show is about the simple act of breathing and how it connects us all. The show will feature their beautifully integrated dance and acrobatic style and for the first time, include a live musician.
Later in July, London will celebrate becoming the world’s first National Park City. National Park Cities celebrate nature, the environment and outdoor living. As part of this London-wide celebration, we will have our own National Park City Weekender in Hounslow on 20 & 21 July. On the Saturday, Zum Zum Teatre from Catalunya will perform Hippos at Bell Square. Looking at the relationship between humans and animals and making the point that ‘they will survive if we let them be’, this is nevertheless one very unusual show. Three blue hippos will be dancing at Bell Square. Believe me. Then on the Sunday, our friends at Creative People & Places will host one of their great TW3 Creative events with lots of fun and opportunities for participation.
In August, we have 3 events and go completely international!
First, we welcome acclaimed Israeli choreographer, Ofir Yudilevitch, with his first London performance of Gravitas. The show uses extreme physicality, capoeira and acrobatics on an enormous inflated mattress, with the performers crashing and hurtling through the air, testing the notion of gravity.
Next we have Jesus Rubio Gamo and his Madrid-based company with a contemporary Spanish take on Ravel’s famous Bolero. This is strong, gripping dance set to the remorseless, throbbing beat of the Bolero.
And our final summer performance on 31 August is by stunning Polish theatre company, Teatr Biuro Podrozy. Their previous shows at Bell Square – Silence in 2017 and Winter’s Tale in 2018 – have been highlights for audiences, and for me, too. Their shows are honest – and uncompromising about the things that go wrong in our world. In 2019, they return with Carmen Funebre – or Funeral Song – which looks at the impact of war on civilians. This show is possibly the most legendary piece of outdoor theatre ever made. Created over 30 years ago, it has toured continually, throughout the world, ever since. It has not been seen in London for nearly 10 years.
So we have age-old stories about the moon, and fables about over-ambition, which are as fresh and relevant today as they were hundreds or thousands of years ago. And we have stories of our contemporary world – of war and migration, of animal conservation, on a global scale - and determined resistance to the threat of development on a small local community.
I look forward to seeing these performances with you – and thinking and talking about the stories they tell.
Come and see us at Bell Square on Saturday 25 May - we can’t wait to be back with you!
And in the meantime, huge thanks to Arts Council England and the Mayor of London for their funding of these events!