To celebrate its twenty-fifth birthday, Camden People’s Theatre is turning into one giant megaphone, ready to amplify the voices of people who live in the surrounding streets and high rises. The fest is headed up by ‘Human Jam’, co-created by artistic director Brian Logan. The line-up’s seven lo-fi shows cover issues that residents care about, from young people’s frustrations to the centuries-old corpses under its streets. Here are three to get you started.
‘The trigger for this show was when they started digging up the graveyard up the road to make way for HS2. When I heard they were unearthing 60,000 bodies my jaw dropped. Suddenly, we were living 100 yards away from the biggest exhumation project in European history. We’re a local theatre so we’re perfectly placed to drill down into that.’
Shamira Turner, co-creator
‘The archaeological dig has unearthed all sorts of people who were laid to rest in the mid-1700s to early 1800s: like Thomas Harris, who died after tumbling headlong from a hot air balloon, or Bill Richmond, a former slave who became a boxing celebrity. This show is about them, but it’s also about what happens when you take away common public space. By destroying this graveyard, they’re displacing rat colonies, so residents have to keep their windows shut. We’re using a chorus of local people to dig through the layers, and find out what stories to tell.’
Until May 25. £12, £10 concs.
‘High Rise Estate of Mind’
Conrad Murray, rapper and director
‘Our show is set in an alternative reality where everyone lives in a high rise. We’ve created it through beatboxing workshops with kids from a local estate. It’s come naturally to them: it’s music that comes from tension, from living in cities and being in close quarters. “Hamilton” in the West End is sick, but it’s not real hip hop – it’s a musical with hip hop elements! We’re keeping this show authentic to us: nothing’s watered down. It’s about crime, and being worried about being forced to move, and gentrification. You see the people in these funky new cafés and think: Yo, I’ve lived here my whole life, who are you? It’s good to get solidarity around the issue, because everyone’s getting hit by the housing market right now.
Until May 11. £12, £10 concs.
‘King’s Cross (Remix)’
Tom Marshman, theatremaker
‘I started making this show by having a tea party for LGBTQI+ people who lived in King’s Cross in the 1980s, and to hear their stories. HIV and AIDS came up a lot: everyone I spoke to had it or knew someone who’d had it. But people also talked about the wildness of King’s Cross back in the day, that it was kind of a little bit lawless before it got gentrified. I’ve made the show by glueing their anecdotes and memories together. A lot of them happen in the [now defunct] Bell pub. I try to recreate it in the show using theatrical magic. There’s an invitation to get into the pub, enter its world and dance.’
May 21-25. £12, £10 concs.
For more information on Camden People's Theatre go here