Belongingness is a global conversation about how we identify with each other and what that might tell us about ourselves. In very recent years, we have found ourselves renegotiating our relationship with our national identity, heritage, physical surroundings, and our neighbours, due to mass displacement caused by changing political systems, climate change, and a global pandemic.
A dramatic rise in the popularity of genetic ancestry tests demonstrates our human desire to know where do we come from and to feel connected to one another. But what are we looking to find? And what do individuals and organisations do with this information?
Putting themselves under the microscope, performance artist Raquel André and genetic scientist Dr. Sandra Romero-Hidalgo used their genetic ancestry test results to explore what it might mean to belong. Making contact with their 3,000+ newly-identified global relatives, Raquel and Sandra held a series of conversations to learn about why participants are taking genetic tests and together, understand the complex interconnections that define their identities.
Capturing both our ephemeral and literal understandings of relationships, Belongingness is a live project that seeks to understand our human desire to have a place in the world. What can we learn from each other? As we map our journey of new connections, Raquel and Sandra invite you to participate by sharing your stories of searching to belong.
Dr. Romero-Hidalgo is a researcher at the National Health Institute of Genomic Medicine (INMEGEN) in Mexico City. Her research focuses on studying the genetic diversity of the Mexican population and the identification of genetic risk markers involved in different diseases. She used the global and local genetic ancestry estimations derived from microarray and/or sequencing genomic platforms to efficiently look for the risk factors. Recently popularised consumer genetic tests have relevant ethical, legal, and social implications that Dr. Romero-Hidalgo also considers in her research.
Raquel André is a performer and maker working in the performing arts. She is interested in the idea of generational object collecting. In 2009 she premiered her first performance inspired by found correspondence between a family in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. In 2006 she wrote a Master’s Dissertation on how to collect in the Performing Arts at the University Federal of Rio de Janeiro (2016) with a scholarship by Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon. SHe’s currently an APAP artist under the support of Teatro Nacional D. Maria II (Lisbon-PT). She lives in the Rio-Lisbon bridge.
If you are looking at this webpage having just seen a strange sight on a spring evening in some corner or other of our country, then welcome. We wish we could be welcoming you in person!
You may be wondering what you have just seen and why. Below we hope you find some information about the project in your area and about its sister projects around the country.
You may have spotted a shadowy figure hunched over a camera or a computer as you passed the tree. That could well be the lighting designer who created the work. You will find more information about them here too.
The lighting designers and their freelance assistants have not had the chance to do what they do for over a year now. This is the first thing they have lit in a long time because our theatres and concert venues are closed.
We cannot shout about this work because we are still in the dark age with the risks of social gathering. So this is a chance encounter. An illuminated tree has briefly interrupted your life. We hope it has lifted you and piqued your curiosity. It is a gift.
It is also an homage to the tree, a tribute to its sinuous tenacity. All these trees have endured time and man with their blind intelligence.
Who better to draw these shy giants into focus than a group of artists who live in the shadows themselves?
Jason is a graduate of the ALD Lumiére Scheme, an associate artist at the Herd Theatre, and associate designer at Chapterhouse Theatre Company and Rhubarb Theatre. We asked Jason why he chose this tree and he responded, ‘I chose this tree as it really stood out to me as soon as I saw it. I love willow trees and how they fall/hang down. I also wanted to provide a little entertainment and light for the residents of Pickering and Ferens homes as they may have been sheltering this past year and not been able to leave their homes. I hope they can get a bit of joy on their doorsteps.’
Daniella is an award-winning lighting designer who trained at Bretton Hall, and became the first resident lighting designer for New Vic Theatre Stoke-on-Trent. When asked why she chose to work with a Cherry tree Leek, Staffordshire she said, ‘It has a good shape to allow me to explore our relationship with the canopy and the earth.’ The local button and fabric industries have inspired her design and sees this project as an opportunity to ‘bring light at the end of the tunnel.’
Training with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Chuma has a number of productions under his belt where he has served as part of the lighting design team as well as currently serving as the associate lighting designer at The Bread & Roses Theatre, White Bear Theatre, and Golden Goose Theatre. Chuma also serves as a freelance lighting designer for Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. The inspiration for Chuma’s design if the cycle of life through the 4 seasons and when asked what this project means to him after the last year, he said ‘It’s the chance to inspire joy, hope, and fun while bringing a crucial aspect of theatre back to the public.’
Kristina graduated from Rose Bruford College in 2001 and as well as working intensively as a lighting designer within a great range of performance styles and genres, she runs Flying Eye Performance Company, a cross-art collaboration. Discussing the inspiration for her design, she said ‘Even before I knew that this tree was an Elm, I saw it as a very strong female character with a big embrace. Amazingly, Elm trees are actually considered to be feminine and within Scandinavian mythology, the first person was in fact both from an Elm. Elms are also often associated with the cycle of life, death, and rebirth, themes that have been very prominent in all of our lives during the pandemic. I was interested to see how I could light this tree and tell a story of a journey through motherhood to respond to the qualities I personally get from this tree.’
Katy is a lighting designer based in South Wales who works with theatre companies and directors both in Wales and across the UK. She has worked as an associate designer and re-lighter on tour for many productions, and as a lecturer and supervisor at RWCMD. Katy explained her design like this, ‘The structure of the tree and how I can reveal the unseen interior to those passing by. To give a different perspective on something that might normally be overlooked. To reveal its beauty to those who might come for a closer look, to show them what I see.’
Joshua is a lighting, video, and creative caption designer who has been designing since 2012 and has worked with companies including the Royal Court, National Theatre, Gate Theatre, Belarus Free Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre, Royal Exchange Manchester, and the Almeida. He said ‘Some gentle space to reflect and be uplifted, a space for optimism. A little intervention in the normality of our lockdown routines. To enter into the coming change with a tiny bit of magic in our mind’ when asked what he hoped his audience would take away from his piece.
Lizzie who is based in Glasgow and whose previous work includes Anna Karenina at the Royal Exchange, Avalance: A Love Story at the Barbican, Macbeth at the RSC, and Our Town at Regents Open Air Theatre. When asked what this project meant to her in the context of the last year, Lizzie said ‘It has made me look back and take the positive happenings from the last year. The ways in which I have experienced love and friendship. The different forms that these friendships take but still knowing that they are there for me and I for them. This project has enabled me to declare these feelings aloud.’
Jackie has worked with organisations including Sadler’s Wells, Manchester International Festival, National Theatre, Young Vic Theatre, Bush Theatre, Almeida Theatre, and several theatres in the West End. After the last year, Jackie believes this project will bring optimism not only for himself but the public who see his design. When asked how he felt being the sole creative working on his project, he said, ‘A bit exposing, also, I found that the supporting production team became my collaborators artistically and technically which is very helpful.’
The Litten Trees is presented for free. If you are able, please consider making a donation to support Fuel to produce more work and employ artists and creatives across the UK.
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A performance created from your song dedications and declarations of love, past and present, join us online via Zoom for Love Letters at Home as we raise our glasses to long lost loves and current lovers, to mums and dads, and to absent friends.
Love Letters at Home is an intimate participatory piece of theatre in which the audience and performers offer dedications and declarations of love, past and present. It is collaboratively authored with its audience, who temporarily becomes a community of close friends across the performance.
Before the show, people who book tickets are invited to send in music requests or to write dedications to those they love or care about, and these are worked into the event each night. We try with care, to only speak with words written by those in the audience – each performance is unique to that group of people, their memories, their current and past loves or friendships, their emotions, laid bare for everyone to witness, acknowledge and support.
Love Letters at Home shifts between theatre and a real social event; dedications are spoken, toasts are made, speeches are given, songs are sung, and dances are danced, on behalf of the audience and with them.
Uninvited Guests are Paul Clarke, Richard Dufty, and Jessica Hoffmann. Formed in Bristol in 1998, the company’s work has toured nationally and internationally. They create entertaining and provocative performances that combines high-tech with low tech, the visceral with the virtual. Uninvited Guests work in various contexts, focussing mainly on theatre but also producing installation and audio walks. Their recent work has blurred the line between theatre and social festivities, with audiences joining us in events that are celebratory and critical of these times.
Coombe Farm Studios
Friday 19 March 2021
Creative freelancers, particularly those in the performing arts, have been hit hard by COVID-19. From the very start of restrictions, up to 60% of freelancers have lost all of their work, and it is estimated that at least 200,000 Londoners have been excluded from any Government support. The pandemic has also highlighted existing inequalities facing creative freelancers – including a lack of security at work, unequal access to freelance opportunities, and a lack of a basic safety net.
This new programme from the Mayor of London will enable a diverse group of freelancers in the culture sector to come together to explore and make recommendations on the future of freelancing. It will support the Mayor’s ambitions to improve working conditions and training, as well as advocating for the statutory changes needed for freelancers.
Creative Freelancers: Shaping London’s Recovery will amplify the voices of the self-employed in the culture sector, giving space for freelancers to shape and demonstrate their role in the recovery of London’s creative and cultural industries, as well as in wider civic spaces.
The programme brings together up to 50 diverse freelancers from across the performing arts, including performers, directors, writers, and designers, with up to 50 leaders of cultural organisations, funders, councils and other key decision-makers.
Each freelancer will receive a bursary, match-funded by a cultural organisation, and collaborate on a six-month research project in targeted working groups, supported by a freelance facilitation team. They will feed into the Mayor of London’s work to improve job creation and retention for freelancers, as well as skills and training, and take part in advocacy and lobbying.
The programme will be facilitated by a freelance team, enabled by Fuel, funded by LEAP, the London Economic Action Partnership, and co-designed by the Mayor of London. It builds on the first national Freelance Task Force initiated by Fuel as a pilot in April 2020, in which 150 organisations sponsored 169 freelancers across the country. It will build on the evaluation and recommendations by Morris Hargreaves McIntyre, which highlighted the positive impact of the pilot, its promising potential, and suggested that external funding would improve future work in this area.
This project will empower creative freelancers in the performing arts sector to make recommendations for London’s recovery from COVID-19 in distinct areas:
This programme will support the civic role of creative freelancers in London’s recovery from COVID-19, in policymaking, and in delivery.
Recruitment for the 50 freelancers for Creative Freelancers: Shaping London’s Recovery will open in April. Please check back then or sign up to hear when it’s announced. To apply to be a part of the Facilitation team, please see the job descriptions below.
Deadline extended: 26 March 10:00AM
The London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP) is the local enterprise partnership for London. The LEAP brings entrepreneurs and businesses together with the Mayoralty and London Councils to identify strategic actions to support and lead economic growth and job creation in the capital.
We are committed to accessibility and inclusion. If you have any access requirements or questions which we have not considered, please email email@example.com and we will do all we can to help.
On Friday 19 February 2021 at 8PM, award-winning writer Inua Ellams will appear alongside the director and cast members of Three Sisters for an exclusive Q&A session about the production.
Chekov’s iconic characters are relocated to Nigeria in this bold new adaptation which premiered at the National Theatre in a Fuel co-production in 2019 and is now available to stream online (details below).
Owerri, 1967, on the bring of the Biafran Civil War. Lolo, Nne Chukwu, and Udo are grieving the loss of their father. Months before, two ruthless military coups plunged the country into chaos. Fuelled by foreign intervention, the conflict encroaches on their provincial village, and the sisters long to return to their former home in Lagos.
This Q&A is an exclusive event chaired by Fuel’s Founder Kate McGrath and Fuel’s Head of Programme Anthony Gray. Audiences will have the opportunity to ask Inua, Nadia, and the cast of the show questions about the bold new production which received rave reviews from The Stage, Time Out, The Guardian, and What’s On Stage to name a few.
There are only 100 free tickets available to attend this Q&A.
Writer – Inua Ellams
Director – Nadia Fall
Cast member – Peter Bankolé
Cast member – Sarah Niles
Cast member – Racheal Ofori
Cast member – Sule Rimi
Cast member – Natalie Simpson
We recommend watching this production beforehand if you wish to attend this Q&A. Once you rent this production or subscribe to National Theatre at Home Three Sisters can be watched in a number of ways. You can watch an act an evening, watch it the weekend before, or for the full experience, you can watch it straight through on Friday 19 February before the Q&A. If you do this, then make sure you press play by at least 16:45 on the day so you can join us in time.
You can rent Three Sisters at a cost of £4.99 which will enable you to watch the play for a three-day period. Alternatively, you can subscribe to National Theatre at Home at a cost of £9.99 per month (or £99.99 per year) and this will give you unlimited access to all National Theatre plays including Three Sisters.
Rental link: https://www.ntathome.com/products/three-sisters
Subscription link: https://www.ntathome.com/three-sisters
Born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother against a backdrop of sectarian violence, Inua Ellams left Nigeria for England in 1996 aged 12, moved to Ireland for three years, before returning to London. An award-winning poet, performer, playwright, graphic artist, and designer, Inua returned to the theme of migration in his work, exploring his own life experiences and wider global and political questions. Borders & Crossings was an opportunity to get to know Inua and hear some of his poetic and dramatic work on this theme, live and online from London.
Inua Ellams started performing in cafes in 2003 and has since worked in venues including the Royal Albert Hall, Sydney Opera House, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and Glastonbury Music Festival. He is the recipient of an Edinburgh Fringe First Artist Award for his autobiographical winning play The 14th Tale. He has also undertaken several commissions, including those for Louis Vuitton and Soho Theatre. Following two sell-out runs at the National Theatre and a world tour, his play Barber Shop Chronicles (A Fuel, National Theatre, and Leeds Playhouse co-production) also ran at the Roundhouse in 2019. His adaptation of Three Sisters was co-produced by the National Theatre and Fuel in 2019-2020.
To kick off 2021 we were very excited to showcase Borders & Crossings as part of Under The Radar, the NYC based Public Theater’s annual festival celebrating new theatre and performance.
For the first time in its history, the festival took place online and for free from 6-17 January. For more information about the festival, click here.
The performances of Borders & Crossings were supported by Arts Council England, working in partnership with Manchester International Festival to support England based artists to appear at Under the Radar.
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