Bristol Ferment announces 5 live works-in-progress as part of September takeover programme & a new commission for 2021

25 Aug 2020

Bristol Old Vic has today gone on sale with 5 new performances by Bristol Ferment Supported Artists to take place in the theatre’s new indoor stage this September and a new commission for next year as a signal of the theatre's intention to continue its work supporting artists in the South West as it resets and recovers.   

This July, the theatre should have been celebrating its bi-annual ‘Ferment Fortnight’, a festival programme which has run continuously for the last decade and comprises two weeks of work-in-progress sharings from Ferment Supported Artists, inviting audiences to experience the live development phases of new shows. This year, when the theatre was forced to close in March, Bristol Ferment adapted to the circumstances and launched an open call for five seed commissions titled ‘The View From Here’ – designed to support artists creating work for here and now.   

From 9 – 13 Sep, Bristol Ferment will be taking over the ‘Live at Bristol Old Vic’ programme on the new indoor stage to present 5 very different sharings resulting from the seed commissions. In typical Ferment style, there will be an opportunity for audiences to share with the artists what they think and where their development might go next.   

Ferment Producer Ben Atterbury said today, “In June when we first announced these seed commissions we didn’t know how they might be presented, but we had no doubt that many artists were thinking with the brilliant creativity that they needed to adapt and rise to the challenge – and of course, they have. What they will share with you is not finished, but we’ll give you some ideas about where we can begin. Looking towards the future, it is amazing to announce Outlier as a Programme Commission and support this team of extraordinarily talented local artists to bring the show here in 2021. Outlier is a show about loss, connection & ultimately catharsis – things that feel totally resonant in the world as it is now. I can’t wait to work with them and to share its gifts with more people.”  

 Tickets to the Bristol Ferment takeover are sold on a table-by-table basis, with a table for 2 starting at £10, available now here. 

Bristol Old Vic is also delighted to announce that Outlier, written by poet and performer Malaika Kegode with music from Jakabol, which was last performed as a work-in-progress at the January 2020 Ferment Fortnight, has been awarded a Bristol Ferment Programme Commission; the company will now work with Ferment to develop the work for presentation at Bristol Old Vic in 2021.   

Outlier is a gig-theatre show, combining storytelling and live music to share a story of lived experience about growing up in rural Britain today. Told with original music by Bristol-based rock band Jakabol, and projected animations by Christopher Harrisson, Outlier explores the impact of isolation, addiction and friendship on young people in the often forgotten places. The show is directed by Jenny Davies and designed by Rebecca Wood, who were both recipients of a Leverhulme Scholarship from Bristol Ferment in 2019/20 to develop and grow their practice.   

Also on sale today are the critically acclaimed HandleBards who will land on King Street from 5 – 6 Sep to perform their unhinged and bonkers, laugh-out-loud version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The pedalling troupe, who have been cooped up together during lockdown, will use their irreverent, charming and hilarious style to bring you a brand-new outdoor production with a socially-distanced twist. With music, mayhem and more costume changes than you can shake a spear at, these Edinburgh Fringe Sustainable Practice Award winners are ready to show you the classic tale of two young lovers like you’ve never seen it before.   

The Bristol Argonautica
Saikat Ahamed
Bar & Café at Bristol Old Vic
Saikat Ahamed is a Bristol-based British Bangladeshi writer and performer. His acting highlights include Tinkerbell in Peter Pan (Bristol Old Vic), Vince Arya in Monday Monday (ITV) and Mr Chadley in Pennyworth (Epix). As a writer, his work includes three autobiographical solo shows, The Tiger and the MoustacheStrictly Balti and In Search of Goldoni. He has also recently written a play called Book Club which deals with conversations around race.
Saikat will be sharing an extract from Bristol Argonautica, a new long-form verse inspired by epic poems such as The Iliad or Odyssey, dealing with feelings of isolation, connection and the idea of getting ‘home’ during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The scope will be both global as well as local, with Bristol as its central focal point.
Ama’s Tides
Black Women Let Loose
Bar & Café at Bristol Old Vic
Black Women Let Loose Theatre Company is a Bristol-based Community Interest Company created to highlight the experiences of women of African and Caribbean descent through devising and producing theatre. The company was created by Christelle Pellecuer, Lorna James, Rachel de Garang, Ruth Pitter, Valerie Mower and Yoma Smith. Their inaugural show Shades Of Our Livescomprised inventive pieces exploring topics such as identity, connection and belonging and was a sell-out show on International Women’s Day 2019 at Bristol Old Vic.
Ama’s Tides centres on one woman’s story and her daily existence as it is put under the spotlight exposing the pressures that engulf her life in these unrelenting times. The work-in-progress speaks to us all about the harsh impacts of the unfurling events of 2020; from the COVID-19 pandemic and environmental crisis to racism and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Maimuna & Timingjor
Sura Susso & Pete Yelding
5pm, 8.30pm
Bar & Café at Bristol Old Vic

Sura Susso is a UK-based virtuoso kora player, percussionist and vocalist from Gambia. He comes from a Griot family. Griots are performing historians, peace makers, musicians, diplomats, and storytellers that carry the knowledge of the people. Pete Yelding is a UK-based cellist, sitarist, and vocalist from a family of travelling performers. They met over a decade ago, playing around a fire late at night at a small festival in Suffolk.
Maimuna & Timingjor marks their first collaboration, which began with a conversation during lockdown about a need for lullabies to create light in these strange times. After developing their ideas, playing together, socially distant, in Castle Park, they approached Gambia-based writer, Mallen Jagne, and Sura’s Great Aunt, Micici Kuyateh, to provide the two stories at the heart of this performance.
During lockdown, Sura wanted to explore new ways of keeping alive and sharing his 72-generation heritage with his young daughter, but also with children and their families here in the UK. This project is the result of this exploration. It features one new story about a young girl called Maimuna, and one traditional story about another young girl called Timingjor.
Holly Beasley-Garrigan, Ivy Corbin & Dee Hassan
Bar & Café at Bristol Old Vic

Holly Beasley-Garrigan, Dee Hassan and Ivy Corbin like making weird stuff in weird places. Dee and Holly normally make sited film/projection artworks together using documentary-style interviews as a starting point. Holly and Ivy normally make site-specific, immersive theatre together. They all like making work that’s anarchic, fun and socially engaged at its heart, and they care about seriously questioning the traditional ways they are permitted to create and consume art. They have decided to smash all that together and see what happens.
Tealeaf is a new performance about stealing by artists and participants who have experienced the sharp end of Britain’s class-system, combining interviews, storytelling and bastardisations of classic works. Probably.
Pravanya Pillay
Bar & Café at Bristol Old Vic
2008 Sir Henry Floyd Form Representative Pravanya Pillay is a comedian, director, writer, performer and youth empowerment leader. In 2017 she founded Stomping Ground, an organisation which empowers young people of colour by transforming Bristol’s arts and cultural landscape so that it is fully accessible and representative.
Bash! is the absurd and slightly grotesque love child of the past and right now. Filled to the brim with nostalgia for yesteryear and chronicling the outrageous comeback of everyone’s favourite fallen star: Hollywood’s tiny baby - Pravanya Pillay. It’s classy, it’s trash.
It’s fun, it’s devastating. It’s feminist and political, but not too much! This work-in-progress features guests, music, extended dance routines, redemption, costume and of course outrageous scandal.

Bristol Old Vic is the longest continuously running theatre in the UK, and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2016. The historic playhouse aims to inspire audiences with its own original productions, both at home and on tour, whilst nurturing the next generation of artists, whether that be through their 350-strong Young Company, their many outreach and education projects or their trailblazing artist development programme, Bristol Ferment.

They use their funding to support experiment and innovation, to allow access to their programme for people who would not otherwise encounter it, or be able to afford it, and to keep their extraordinary heritage alive and animated.

On 24 Sep 2018, Bristol Old Vic completed its 2-year multi-million pound redevelopment project, which transformed its front of house space into a warm and welcoming public building for all of Bristol to enjoy, created a new studio theatre and opened up its unique theatrical heritage to the public for the first time.

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