New Secret Theatre Brings Street Art to London’s SW7

London, as we all know, is heaving with secret little gems – La Bodega Negra in the basement of a Soho building with a sex shop façade; breakfast in former Victorian public toilets like The Attendant; the Secret Cinema, prohibitions parties and all sorts of entertainment – and now, The Street.

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I may be biased because this new theatre space which was just built inside the study abroad center, CAPA International Education, where I work full time has seven large canvas prints of my London photography on the walls.

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But it’s genuinely an awesome space for both exhibitions and performance with its fancy sprung floors, thick black box style curtain, lush velvety red curtains at the back and special lighting.

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In fact, it uses new LED technology that’s supposed to revolutionise the theatre industry over the next decade and this is the first installation of its kind in the UK. They even have a fun disco setting where the lights switch colours in response to sound.

RUN at WorkRUN at work

And my favourite part about it? It contains some original street art from the fabulous British paste up artist D7606 who created a special traditional London phone box at the entrance to the theatre (first photo) and a freshly-painted mural by London-based Italian street artist RUN. (Speaking of RUN, his new Village Underground piece is now finished as well!)

RUN in progressRUN’s mural before the lights and floor were installed

I had the pleasure of meeting both D7606 and RUN as they worked on these new pieces, creating a bit of street art in West London where it’s seldom found outside of the little Ladbroke Grove bubble near Portobello Market. This is on Cromwell Road, SW7, where you would definitely least expect it.

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The space was built for a new Theatre Studies program for American study abroad students who come to CAPA London, but it will also be open for public events like exhibitions, open mic evenings, storytelling events, etc for the London community as well. Watch this space for upcoming events.

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The name of the theatre came from a student who said his academic program here was great but he learned so much out there on “the street”. And it’s true – as much as you can learn in a classroom, what you learn on the street is much more raw, gritty, the stuff of real life.

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We launched the space earlier this week with a street theme. We had international street food catered by Incredibly Fed.

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Garry Hunter was there to sign his book, “Street Art of the World” which was a giveaway gift to each of the 50 or so guests.

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Clementine Lovell and her Pop Up Opera came in for an energetic performance of two one-act operas – Donizetti’s Rita and Pergolesi’s La Serva Padrona.

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I interviewed Clem about the Pop Up Opera which was on LLO on Monday and worth a read. She started the group with the idea of making the art form more accessible based on her experience with the more down to earth approach to opera in small Italian villages during her operatic training.

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They sing in Italian with modern English subtitles, translated in a way that makes it funny rather than directly from its original language.

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They use all sorts of props – from Nutella to a morph suit with balloon muscles to strands of rope.

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They ran among the audience quite a bit, chasing each other, rolling around the floor, singing directly to people.

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My front row knee was used quite a few times as a random place to leave props from these claws to a Muscle Men magazine.

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It was all very entertaining.

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Before, during intermission, and after the show, there was plenty of mingling.

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And a few celebratory drinks.

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My photos, below, are hanging out on the walls of the theatre with the captions beneath them.

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It’s an exciting new space both for the students and the London community who will also have access to this hidden gem of a creative space for a variety of interesting events coming soon!

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Guest Post: 5 Unique Free London Activities

Written by Yuli Linssen-Kaminitz. Yuli is originally from Israel but has been living in Holland for the last couple of years with her Dutch husband. London has always seemed to her like a tempting place to run away to which might have to do with the fact that her mother used to live here when she was the same age as Yuli is today…

London is one of the most vibrant cities in Europe with an unlimited number of museums, more than 100 theaters, the famous royal family, numerous vintage shops and of course Kate Moss. Even though London attracts more than 27 million tourists a year, many people from outside Europe still find it an extremely expensive destination to visit.

In order to make life easier for those of you who cannot afford to go to on a shopping spree or watch three theatre shows in a row, here are my top 5 free things to do in the city:

1. Speakers’ corner
Cumberland Gate Park Lane, North East corner of Hyde Park, London W1K 7TY, United Kingdom – 07533 098 035
Open Sun 12pm-7:30pm

Not only this attraction is free of charge, it is also worth visiting regardless! Where else would you be able to listen to extremely passionate people talking about their beliefs, ideas, conspiracy theories and rough opinions?  In 1872, Parliament decided to allow public speaking in the north-eastern corner of London’s Hyde Park. People from all over the country gathered to raise their important issues – the main discussions were: politics, religion, the economic situation and more. Until this day, every Sunday you will be able to witness people standing on small chairs in Hyde Park and lecturing the crowd.

2. Primrose Hill
Primrose Hill, Primrose Hill Road, Primrose Hill, NW3 3NA

This is the perfect spot to chill out, have a pleasant picnic and watch the spectacular sunset. Located in the north side of Regent’s Park, Primrose hill not only offers the most magnificent view of the city, the district which surrounds it is full of cozy cafes, trendy restaurants, tiny pubs and shopping streets. Start your day with getting a tan in the sun and finish it with a glass of wine. There is even a chance you will come across a celebrity such as Gwen Stefani, Jude Law and Ewan McGregor; all of them are extremely fond of this place.

3. National Theatre Square
South Bank, London, SE1 9PX

The National Theatre Square offers three different vast auditoriums where more than 20 productions are being played per year!  Even though most of the shows do cost money to enter, you would be pleasantly surprise to discover how many free performances are offered monthly. During the whole summer until September 26 you will be able to enjoy for free the spectacular outdoor theatre- “Watch This Space Festival”. This wonderful event includes: extraordinary circus, brilliant dancers, acrobatic performances and many more.

4. Richmond Park
Holly Lodge TW10 5HS

Richmond Park is located in Richmond, West London. It is extremely hard to believe that such an astonishingly beautiful nature area is just 12 miles away from central London! This breathtaking Royal Park is the biggest in London; it covers 2,500 acres of complete beauty and total freedom for the wild animals. Walking there, witnessing the deer running free and listening to the sound of birds, will make you feel like you are not in the UK but in a far away country which words cannot describe how striking is it.

5. Sunday UpMarket and the Backyard Market
Ely’s Yard (entrances on Brick Lane & Hanbury Street), The Old Truman Brewery London E1

Both of these markets are sort of hidden hotspots in the city. They are quite alternative and most of the people there are locals. The Backyard market, (open Sunday from 11am till 6pm and Saturday from 10am to 5pm) offers exceptional fashion from young, talented and upcoming designers. Even though the stalls do not offer free treats, you will surly enjoy strolling around and be inspired by the fashion forward clothes, one of a kind jewellery and the distinctive arts & craft treasures. The Sunday UpMarket which is located right next to the Backyard Market is similar with its unique fashion items, funky vibe and colorfulness. The major point of distinction from its neighboring market is the famous food area: Tempting cupcakes, Turkish and Moroccan homemade delicious meals, Spanish paellas, sushi and many more! The best part is: free tasting is offered to everyone!

Yuli works for EasyToBook.com, which specializes in discount rates on hotels all over the world that range from simple motels all the way up to celebrated 5-star venues. For more information about hotels in London, visit their site.

London Events: See You Next Tuesday Festival

Today is International Women’s Day, recognising the fabulousness of females around the globe and raising awareness of the plight of some who live their lives in fear and without a voice to stand up for their rights.

Today is also the first day of the See You Next Tuesday Festival, giving women in London a platform for creativity, comedy, theatre, burlesque and cabaret. (Men are, of course, welcome to join in on the fun.)

Running until the 20th of March, there is plenty to see at the New Players Theatre where all of the events are taking place. You can find a calendar of events here.  

If you were looking for the ever-popular Vagina Monologues in February, you’ll be happy to know they are running as part of the festival this month, proceeds as always going to Eve Ensler’s V-Day movement.

The brilliant minds behind See You Next Tuesday are Emma Jane Richards and Annie Saunders, who have run V-Day London since 2008. They describe this new celebration as “cutting-edge theatre, thigh-slapping comedy, film screenings, a variety of workshops, and the best of circus, burlesque and cabaret. Showcasing fantastic feminine and feminist talent for an action-packed two weeks, raising discussion (and eyebrows) in a lavish and experimental playground of fancy, See You Next Tuesday is like nothing you’ve seen before.”

Book tickets for events here.  
Website is here.

(PS – “See You Next Tuesday” = CUNT, if you didn’t know…)

Graceless in Edinburgh

One of my articles was just published in Seven on a theatre production called Graceless which addresses Feminism and its meaning in 2009:

Womanhood means independence, love, nurture, office politics, impending wrinkles, wobbly bits to conceal and curves to flaunt. It makes us vulnerable to the lure of frilly knickers and inevitable blisters from staggeringly high heels that would make Carrie proud. Womanhood leads us on a journey of friendship, family and self-discovery, twisting around the oddities and awkwardness that often accompany us on the ride. It’s about time we confronted the raw truth of it all. Continue reading…