Brixton is a lot of great things, but ‘theatre mecca’ certainly hasn’t historically been one of them. But that’s all finally set to change this month as the frankly extremely long saga of its new theatre Brixton House finally concludes this month, as it throws open its door from February 24.
Brixton House in fact used to be Ovalhouse, the influential fringe theatre (formerly known as Oval House) which you may or may not remember as being located in Oval, ie not Brixton. A move to a new purpose-built Brixton building has been in the works for absolutely aeons: the original building closing down in early March 2020, when new artistic director Gbolahan Obisesan (pictured) was appointed to lead things forward. The expectation was that it would all be ready in 2021.
Well, that obviously didn’t happen, but it only missed it by a couple of months: Brixton House will open up for a couple of special performances on February 24, before going fully operational – cafe and all – from March 5.
Although it’s difficult not to look at a new state-of-the-art, multimillion-pound theatre and not conclude that it’s part of Brixton’s endlessly controversial gentrification, it’s also not unreasonable to conclude that Brixton House is on the side of the angels, with a strong commitment to community orientation and diverse programming.
Quoth Gbolahan Obisesan: ‘Brixton House will be a vital cultural beacon in Brixton and a home of creativity and expression for everyone. We want to attract, support, and inspire new artistic experiences that will develop our community solidarity and passion for social change in society. With this opening season, we focus on our Family Ties, because ours is a home where we acknowledge we are all connected and bound by our love of art and artists, propelled by our spirit of togetherness, whilst giving space to showcasing our creative bond and appreciation of human experiences.’
The inaugural season commences with Tonderai Munyevu’s one-man-show ‘Mugabe, My Dad and Me’, a play with music about the life and times of Robert Mugabe as seen through the prism of Munyevu’s family’s personal experience of him – it runs February 24- March 5, then again March 29-April 1. Running during the same period (February 24-26) is ‘Butterflies’, a show for young children about dealing with anxiety that’s been reworked for the Covid era. Other work coming up includes ‘Station’, a performance installation that recreates a South Asian living room, and a short showcase of Swiss theatre.
For more information on Brixton House, head to its official website.