The Battersea Arts Centre is a truly magnificent building in the old Battersea Town Hall at the top of Lavender Hill. Over the past 120 years, this building has been a focal point and venue for the expression of radical politics and Women’s Suffrage. Infamous speeches, avant garde personalities and the beginning of the Trade Union movement are rooted in the history of this Grade II building.
Today, the Battersea Arts Centre’s mission is to invent the future of theatre. Last night I was certainly convinced!
“Britain’s Most Influential Theatre”-The Guardian
London Stories defines experimental and participatory theatre. At the box office I was checked in and handed a sheet of paper which in actual fact was a timetable. This timetable told me when to go where, where the room was located, and at what time I was supposed to be there. Sounds simple? Yes, but no, but yes…
The Battersea Arts Centre is a maze of magnificent interior spaces, nooks, crannies and multiple staircases scattered in every directions. All of this added to the fun and surprise each time I marched myself to the next room to hear another person tell me (and an equally astounded member of the audience) his or her London Story.
From 7:00pm (when the entire audience of approximately 40 people gathered in the main Foyer) to 8:25pm (when we all reconvened in the Council Chamber), my timetable allowed me to hear many remarkable, touching stories. At 7:39 I listened to Gary Mansfield, a man who spent 14 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Through a program of rehabilitation and training in prison he is now a conceptual artist.
At 8:03, I rushed to the Neverhome Room on the Ground floor to listen to Jim Dunkley’s story of how he survived a mugging crossing London Fields by 4 youths who held a knife to his throat. Each story from the moving to the bizarre or comical is told in the intimate setting of 2 audience members and the storyteller.
The audience has approximately 5 minutes to crisscross the building and each other in the halls, stairwells and foyer before the next story commences. Candles add an element of intimacy and suspense as each person shares their story with you.
You have until September 28th to experience London Stories for yourself.
Battersea Arts Centre,
London SW11 5TN
Starts 16 September
Until 28 September
020 7223 2223
- London Stories: tales of the city (theguardian.com)