London Folk Magazine and News
Marchland - no borders to creativity
Marchland, a new season of performance from Europe’s border regions, opens at London’s Bridewell Theatre this February. Audiences can look forward to 27 days of cultural events that respond to the crises of identity currently sweeping Europe.
This first edition of Marchland from Monday 5 February 2018 brings together artists in London from the Balkans, Hungary, France, Spain, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Marchland aims to rise above the current European battle over borders at The Bridewell Theatre - one of London’s hidden gems – with a series of plays, music performances, interdisciplinary events and talks.
An innovation by Strasbourg’s Théâtre Volière, Marchland will bring the magic and feel of a secluded European theatre to The Bridewell, right from the very entrance to the theatre. The relaxed, familiar ambience will encourage audiences and artists from across the continent to exchange ideas and creativity to explore what it means to be European today.
Opening the season is the world première of Arnika, a new play by Théâtre Volière. Set in 1951, residents of a small village in the Alsace mountains are trying to rebuild their lives after the Nazi occupation. Two families are struggling to live with a terrible secret, and when an official arrives to investigate the disappearance of a resistance operative, the ties of family and community rapidly unravel. Based on real events, Arnika explores the tragic choices forced on a border community trapped in a cycle of international vengeance.
La Soupe Compagnie (Alsace) bring Evocation to Marchland, fresh from the 2017 Edinburgh Festival. This treatment of an Albert Giraud classic through performance poetry and contemporary puppetry relocates Pierrot Lunaire to 19th-century Brighton, where a young woman, washed up on the beach, is forced to revisit her tragic history time after time.
Before and After Schengen brings together three artists to explore the politics and the poetry of borders. Spanish photographer Ignacio Evangelista talks about his series After Schengen for which he photographed the former border posts between European states. Ignacio’s talk will be interwoven with poems by George Szirtes (winner of the TS Eliot prize), written in response to the images and read by the poet himself. With music by violist Shiry Rashkovsky (Associate Member of the Philharmonia Orchestra).
Alex Batesmith, a former United Nations prosecutor in Cambodia and Kosovo, presents his one-man show Blackbirds and Blue Helmets, in which he reflects on his journeys to the former Yugoslavia, both before and after its disintegration. Alex’s talk offers a rare insight into the forces behind the breakup of one of Europe’s more recently vanished kingdoms.
Marchland’s ethos of high quality invited work also extends to its season of music events. This includes Norway’s KultNett, who will bring together folk musicians and storytellers from beyond the Arctic Circle for Sound of the Arctic. KultNett will delve into the history of the people of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Sápmi (the land of the Sámi people) and create a performance that explores vibrant borderland cultures in Nordic Europe.
International music collective Sefiroth will explore traditional Sephardic repertoire: music from the descendants of the Jews who left Spain or Portugal after 1492. Sung in Ladino (a language primarily spoken by Sephardic Jews) with acoustic and electric instruments, these ancient songs weave stories of love, loss and yearning for home, and evoke the lands where the diaspora settled: Iberia, the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
For the final Saturday of the season, Sweden and Denmark’s Åkervinda will perform their unique, modern Nordic folksongs. Influenced by Björk, the four singers of Åkervinda share a deep love of folk music and breathe new life into traditional songs. Marchland marks the start of the band’s UK tour and the release of its latest album.
Natasha Wood, Artistic Director, Théâtre Volière said:
“Our experience of our own borderland, Alsace, has shown us how fascinating it is to live in a community straddling two different nations and cultures. The history of Alsace, and of all European borderlands, tells us everything that is good and bad about the human response to being pushed up against ´otherness´. We want Marchland to offer a space in the heart of London where artists and audience alike can come together to share and unpick these European stories in an attempt to answer the question, ´how do we live together?´.”
Yseult Welschinger, Artistic Director, La Soupe, said:
“For Evocation, Mick [Wood] and Natasha [Wood] raised the border controls and entrusted us with an amazing challenge! This very special cross-Channel collaboration has renewed our sense of our own identity as artists and reinvigorated our appetite for our work. Marchland will give us a space to share ideas and to be inspired by others, to celebrate the power of words, imagery and symbolism: with these simple tools we can build the bridges that will free us to continue on our journey as human beings.”
Alex Batesmith, Lecturer in Law and Transitional Justice, former UN war crimes prosecutor said:
"I’ve always been fascinated by borderlands, where difference and contrast is all around, where a desire for communication and connection clash with visceral mistrust and misunderstanding. I experienced all of this in my time in the former Yugoslavia – where lands of disputed ownership and polarised identity are perhaps the very definition of ‘marchlands’ – and am looking forward to exploring these thoughts, on some very topical themes, in the Marchland season.”
Tickets are available from today at http://marchlandseason.co.uk/