Deptford Cabaret Night wins Arts Council England funding to grow!

Following six seasons sharing ground-breaking works-in-progress in the Albany studio, the pioneering curators of Cabaret Playroom have been awarded an Arts Council grant to invest in a scaled up version of the event.  Cabaret Playroom: The Big One will take place in the Albany’s main space on Saturday 10 June.

Tricity Vogue and Matthew Floyd Jones. Photography: James Millar

“The night plays an invaluable role in supporting artists’ development and nurturing emerging talent, giving them the chance to experiment and try out new ideas and material in front of an audience.” said the Albany’s Artistic Director, Gavin Barlow. “We’re delighted that the work of co-curators Tricity Vogue and Lisa Lee has been recognised by the Arts Council England, who have awarded the project funding as part of their Grants for the Arts scheme.”

“The grant enables us to present the very best work from performers who’ve been involved with the night, on a grander scale, to a larger audience,” said Tricity Vogue, Cabaret Playroom’s host and co-curator. Cabaret Playroom: The Big One will showcase eight of the artists who have developed new acts at the night; established performers with an international profile, and emerging artists who took their first steps into cabaret on the Albany’s studio stage.


Andrew Pepper and Tricity Vogue. Photography: James Millar

The line-up includes: musical comedy star Matthew Floyd Jones of Frisky and Mannish, “opera reggae” musician and poet Ennè – featured on BBC Introducing, “the naked stand up” Miss Glory Pearl, and Pride’s Got Talent finalist, Lord Hicks.

Top left: Lord Hicks, top right: Miss Glory Pearl, bottom left: Matthew Floyd Jones, bottom right: Ennè. Photography: James Millar

“The Arts Council grant means we can offer mentoring time to more artists and their acts,” said producer and co-curator Lisa Lee. “We’ll be able to give directing and dramaturgical support to selected artists, to grow their acts into powerful and engaging pieces of cabaret.”

Arts Council England have awarded Cabaret Playroom a grant of up to £5,867 through their Grants For The Arts programme.

“You never know what to expect at a Cabaret Playroom night,” said cabaret blogger and queer arts activist Ben Walters. “It could be anything – from drag to divas to tap dancing clowns.”


Tricity Vogue. Photography: James Millar

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Let’s Spread This Like an Oil: Giving a Voice to Young Producers and Makers


11 countries, 12 arts organisations, 1 mission… to facilitate the voice of a generation!

I have just returned from two days in Brussels networking and planning an international platform project. This will involve arts organisations across Europe who are creating and producing theatre for, and by, young people. It will be a partnership with the aim of exchanging ideas and work, collaborating with young people and mentors, and commissioning new work.

As part of this process I have taken time to reflect on the work that we are doing with our Young Creatives (a collective of young interdisciplinary artists and producers who create original work and platforms for young artists) at the Albany. We have ambitions to support them to develop as creative individuals, active global citizens and well-rounded human beings.

The Young Creatives describe themselves as ‘millennials’ – a term they both associate with, but also find problematic as they aim to overcome the perception of millennials being an apathetic and uncaring generation who are only interested in themselves. In fact, their upcoming event Move, Shake, Mango aims to flip that on its head to prove that as millennials they are driven, successful young people and to further explore the negative stereotype.

I’ve been inspired by the partners commitment to young people internationally, by their fighting spirit, their ambition and determination. I have found myself returning to England with questions about why I think international partnership, exchange and collaboration is so important to young artists and more broadly speaking young people.

For me it is about connection, real connection, real communication… reality! My experience tells me that young people are becoming less and less engaged with reality and are seeking authenticity as a result of the digital age we live in. Not to say that technology is a negative thing, in fact the very opposite, but to accept that it disengages us from the world we live in. International conversations, partnerships and collaborations for me are about the basic principle of removing people from their everyday habitat, connecting them with possibilities, and mentoring them to flourish in a different environment- in this instance using art as a universal lubricant.

As the European political climate becomes more unsteady and uncertain this week as Article 50 is triggered, as borders are being created, and as there is less money in social services and the public sector as head teachers are speaking out about major cuts, how do we put internationalism back on the agenda? How do we ensure that our young people continue feel ‘European’, exchanging dialogue and collaborating with other young people across the world? Do we not owe it to the ‘millennials’ to break down the borders that others are creating?

The last few days have reminded me that individuals on a mission, with a purpose and ambition really can change the world! I have reignited my passion for this work and reminded myself why I do, and always will, fight for these opportunities for young people. As the slippery changes in the EU start to happen this week, to me it feels more important than ever to spread this work like an oil.

By Zaylie-Dawn Wilson

Youth & Community Programme Manager, the Albany

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The Albany Café – why you can’t please all of the people all of the time

Early this year we began work on updating and refurbishing the Albany café because, well, it really needs it. Our hard-working staff team are struggling to keep it clean and presentable and our lovely customers aren’t always getting the speed or quality of service we’d like due to some quite specific practical issues. We’re also very aware of all the changes locally – with great new independent bars and cafes popping up (and some slightly less independent ones) and lots of new people moving in next door to and all around the Albany – we wanted to make sure the Albany café could continue offer something unique and competitive within the local ecology. That’s about more than the décor of course and the team have done quite a lot of work over the last year to refine the menu, focus even more on local suppliers and use more fresh produce grown in our garden.

We chose Studio Raw to do the work in the café because they understand some of this pretty well – they worked with us on designing our current logo and brand identity several years ago and they’re now also our newest ‘resident company’, that’s what we call the other organisations who are based in our building, having asked if they could move in at the bottom of our garden in their very own cabin late last year! (A great example of how we do things a little bit differently to most arts venues!



The brief was to suggest a new name and a new look for the menu as well as physical changes to the layout, décor and space, all for a bijou budget! We asked them to consult with our staff and other resident organisations to design the changes as well as our regular café users. They’ve done just that and the process has been eye opening.

It’s always been a hard balancing act to get the things right in our café because we need it to make money in order to justify keeping it but it sits at the heart of the building, so we also need it to be welcoming to such a massive range of people. It is taken over every Tuesday by older people doing everything from choir to crafts when we have Meet Me at the Albany, packed full of families when we have Sunday theatre shows, a regular theatre bar when we have shows on and a haven and regular haunt for loads of people who are all looking for different things, from students using the WiFi to do academic work to homeless and vulnerable people who just want somewhere safe, warm and welcoming to hangout.

This has been so apparent in the feedback we’ve gathered from people who use the café. Lots of people saying it’s great value and great quality, others the opposite – that they feel it’s too expensive, some people saying they love relaxing there with kids or that they like it because it’s quiet and relaxing and others saying the kids are noisy or disruptive or the music is too loud – you get the picture… you can never please everyone and you certainly can’t when the range of needs and wants is so broad.

But overall it has surprised us just how much people like and appreciate the space for the very same things that make it a challenge – they feel it fits with what we hope the organisation is and does – they described it as ‘vibrant’, ‘chilled out and warm’, ‘friendly’. They really get that it is a space for everyone – including the green and outdoor space in the garden – and they value that. Over and over, the atmosphere was praised and it’s defining characteristic of openness to all referenced.


We’ll be doing most of the work in late April and really hope it will be well received… by most people at least!


Stavros Chirdaris

Head of Food and Beverage, the Albany

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Move, Shake, Mango – A Creative Journey


Since mid-January we have embarked on a unique journey, a wonderful opportunity to create and produce a show from scratch to be featured as part of the Lewisham Live Festival. Did you say from scratch? Yes… that’s scary! Well, it’s ambitious, because although some of us have experience with events, and we all have the awesome support from industry experts, it’s incredibly complex to coordinate the passion and ideas of fourteen Young Creatives into one holistic experience.

We meet two or three times a week at the Albany, for planning sessions, rehearsals, seminars, and also pure creation. The only premise we had to start was the title ‘Move Shake Mango’ (created by the previous group of Young Creatives), which could become a theatre show, an event, a fair, or anything we wanted…  So how do you trim the infinite jungle of possibilities into one beautiful bonsai? Well, we are discovering that along the way.

We are lucky to have fantastic people supporting us and our project, from start to end, our workshop leader Andy and our Programme Manager Zaylie always giving their best to create a substantial programme full of educational and professional content. But no matter what level of support we get, the responsibility of creating a memorable and valuable experience lies completely on us, the Albany Young Creatives, and that is a challenge that will build character in whoever takes it.

With a series of group exercises and brainstorming sessions we decided on a theme that felt important to all of us and relevant to the community. We followed the guidelines of our guest speakers to divide the roles and responsibilities among the members of the group and set up teams of performers, marketers, producers and so on. Then, with a strong optimistic attitude, we set up a timeline for the project indicating the dates when tasks should be finished and content ready to go. And after doing all this… we actually started creating the content. Funny how it works right?

Now we are less than a month away from opening night, we are getting there, we have created original dance, music, poetry and an inspiring storyline to bring our theme to life, and more importantly, to awaken it inside the audiences hearts. We have grown from a group of young people into a team, a professional working team that sometimes struggles with communication and grow together with understanding, patience and an eye on the horizon. A team of passionate millennials striving to step out of their cocoons to create something bigger, which can only happen if we work together.

By Ciro Reynoso

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Greg Wohead: Celebration’s Falling of the Leaves


Celebration, Florida is a planned community in Osceola County, Florida. It’s near Disney World and was originally developed by the Walt Disney Company. It features a town square, houses modeled on a variety of architectural styles (Victorian, Gothic, American plantation house) and a fully integrated graphic design of everything from street signs and shop signs to manhole covers, golf course graphics and fountains. To some, Celebration is a dream come true; quaint nostalgic Americana brought to life. But to others it all seems inauthentic.

Because of the temperate Florida climate, autumn foliage can be rare, so every October leaf-shaped confetti is pumped into the Celebration, Florida town square.

I’m obsessed with The Falling of the Leaves. It’s like this genuinely exciting moment even though you can see all the fakeness. The device pumping out paper leaves, everyone gathered to catch them. To me it feels fun and funny and strange and maybe a little bit sad.

My performance called Celebration, Florida, for me feels like this moment, only with people instead of paper leaves. Where the paper leaves are standing in for real leaves, in the performance two people who are unrehearsed and have never met both stand in for me. That’s quite a big difference, actually. Even though the unrehearsed performers are standing in for someone else, they are also their own people–they are self-consciously themselves and someone else at the same time, constantly slipping off one and onto the other. As a performance idea this is constantly interesting to me, as anyone who might have seen my previous work like The Ted Bundy Project or Comeback Special can clearly see.


photo by Matt Cawrey

The performers are wearing headphones and hear my voice in their ear guiding them on what to do and say via a prerecorded audio track. They know almost nothing about the show beforehand. Maybe this seems a little gimmicky. The idea of unrehearsed performers guided through a show is certainly not original. I’ve seen it before, notably in Tim Crouch’s An Oak Tree and in Glen Neath and Ant Hampton’s ROMCOM. For Celebration, Florida, though, this felt like the only way to do it. Not just because of the exciting on-the-same-team relationship this creates between the performers and audience, but because it speaks to playback delays, disconnection, missed details, a voice that’s *just* out of hearing range, a sense of the odd, the off-centre, the peculiar. As audience members, you’re not only invited to see what is being enacted onstage, but you’re being asked to imagine and to try and access what has gone on in another place. My hope is that the form of the piece can help create a portal to this slightly strange other place. Celebration, Florida isn’t really about Celebration Florida. It is sort of about an anyplace.

But what I always come back to is a sense of doubleness. While you’re invited to access this other place, this Celebration, Florida anyplace, what we actually see is two people–who didn’t know each other before the show started–slowly form a real relationship as they interact and perform various tasks together over the course of an hour. That can be a fun thing to watch.


photo by Jonathan Potter

In the end, Celebration, Florida is about all and none of these things. It veers between feeling ‘about’ a relationship between me and the performers, the performers and the audience, me and the audience, each performer with the other. And hopefully in the slipping and sliding in between, you can bring to it whatever is going on with you.

I made the performance with an energy of reaching out for connection with other people. That reach itself requires vulnerability, and it can feel thrilling, confusing, comforting, maddening and impossible. Like the Falling of the Leaves x 100.

Celebration, Florida is on at the Albany in London on 1st and 2nd March with a post-show talk on the 2nd, followed by national touring.

By Greg Wohead.

Celebration’s Falling of the Leaves

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I Need A Dollar! Part of SKINT Festival at Canada Water Culture Space

Next week at the Albany’s sister venue, Canada Water Culture Space, InShort Film Festival presents a showcase of ingenious, surreal and innovative short films exploring humans’ relationship with work, money and happiness.

Each year InShort Film Festival screens the best international, inclusive, and independent shorts, exposing multicultural audiences to stories from all corners of the world. Their film programmes celebrate the differences and similarities in people’s experiences worldwide, with many themes popping up universally in the visions of filmmakers from different perspectives.

InShortFF was invited to curate the film part of the Albany’s SKINT programme, which allows you to get your film and theatre fix this February, even if you’re skint – all the events are £5 or pay-what-you-decide. People both locally and worldwide are affected by the financial restraints and poor employment opportunities of our current age. So on Friday 17 February 2017, InShortFF’s screening I Need A Dollar! brings some of the best, most powerful, and most relatable of these stories, with filmmakers from Chile, Australia, India, Russia, Spain and the US, to name a few, to our Southwark theatre.

Some of these films depict economic realities with stunning realism and accuracy, like Far is Here from Chile. This unforgettable experimental documentary will amaze you in its story of exile, migration and economic survival. Other films leap inspirationally towards happiness and freedom – material or immaterial.  A stand out short is The Chunk and The Whore, which was awarded TOP 10 of InShortFF 2016. Its director, French provocateur Antoine Paley depicts the unlikely relationship between a bored gas station cashier and a sex worker, and puts a middle finger up to working life! The programme also features a brilliant and surprising Spanish comedy Grown Ups by Javier Marcos, who plays with film form and expectation to shock and amuse audiences. A playful story about social expectations of how successful and happy adult life should look. You can expect a good mixture of film genres, including mentioned documentary, fiction, comedy, experimental and animation.

I Need A Dollar! gathers together the best internationally awarded short films set in, and dealing with, economic survival, through surreal and comedic filmmaking. Setting the scene for InShort Film Festival’s return in Autumn, see the best film talent and most interesting stories from around the (working) world. These films will free your mind – all you have to lose is your chains!


P.S. Are you a filmmaker and have a new short? Don’t miss the upcoming Early Bird deadline for this year’s edition of InShortFF! Submit here:


By Martha Margetson, InShort Film Festival

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Family Arts Conference 2017

Wednesday 15 March
St George’s Bristol and Watershed, Bristol
10am Registration & Coffee, event 10.30am-5.30pm

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Over 30 speakers confirmed for this major cross-artform event exploring age, diversity and inclusion in family arts.

Chief Executive of Arts Council England, Darren Henley will join us to welcome arts professionals from across the UK to learn and share best practice in working with families.

Including speakers from a wide range of organisations including Arnolfini, Town Hall Symphony Hall Birmingham, Z-arts, and Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

The day includes chances to network with family-friendly venues, programmers and touring companies. You can view the delegate list here.


10am Registration and coffee

10.30am Morning sessions: new insights on arts-based approaches to inclusion and diversity

Deputy Mayor of Bristol Cllr Estella Tincknell will speak on the role of arts in diverse and socio-economically disparate cities.

Bristol Family Arts Network, organisers of the large-scale Bristol Family Arts Festival, on diversity and inclusion at the heart of Bristol’s cultural provision. Keynote from Clare Karslake from Arnolfini, Roseanna Dias from Watershed, and Amy Harrison from The Architecture Centre.

UK & international perspectives on welcoming older people as part of the family experience from Kate Organ, expert on arts and ageing and former consultant for Baring Foundation, Heidi Wiley from Art of Aging (European Theatre Convention), and Gabbi Mesters from European initiative Long Live Arts.

1pm Lunch with a performance from St George’s

1.55pm Breakout sessions

Working with older people and families: panel session with Emma Robinson from Age Cymru and its Gwanwyn Festival, Jill Rezzano from New Vic Stoke and its Ages and Stages programme, and Fergus Early from Green Candle Dance Company. Chaired by Charlotte Jones from Independent Theatre Council.

Marketing to families: a panel session with Sharna Jackson, Children’s Content Creator, Sara Lock the Associate Editor of CultureHive, Kate Mroczkowski from Spektrix as well marketing teams from leading UK family arts organisations, discussing innovative approaches to reaching families.

Developing diversity in family audiences: panel session with Liz O’Neill from Z-arts, Emma Spencer fromYorkshire Sculpture Park, Rachel Clarke from Knowle West Media Centre, Nikki Locke from East Durham Creates, and Sarah Bird and Rowan Hoban, Directors of Wild Rumpus and Just So Festival

A family-friendly workplace: how family-friendly is the arts sector to its employees? Panel session with Anna Ehnold-Danailov and Cassie Raine, co-founders of Parents in Performing Arts (PIPA), and Nicola Smith, Founder of We Are Resident, who provide international residency opportunities for parents working as artists.

3.15pm Afternoon sessions: approaches to access, research findings and future activity

Approaches to access: panel session including Chris Proctor from Town Hall Symphony Hall Birmingham, Karen Townsend from ATG, Victoria Grant from Manchester Meseums as well as contributions from Stagetext.

Keynote: Leo Sharrock, Director of Data Platforms at The Audience Agency and Jonathon Blackburn, Senior Policy and Research Officer at Arts Council England, present findings from new research on family audiences and participation.

Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, on the past, present and future of family arts and its importance to Arts Council England’s strategic plan.

Family Arts Campaign Manager Jenny Daly on new initiatives and ways to engage with the Family Arts Campaign.

5.30-6.30pm Networking drinks reception

Tuesday 14th March 5.30pm, Circomedia, Portland Square, Bristol

All conference delegates are invited to a pre-conference celebration and networking event on the evening preceding the conference. As spaces are limited, we ask that you please book your place in advance if you would like to attend this event.

“So many interesting things: hearing about a range of offers for families was very useful.”

“It allowed time to think and understand how families perceive our offer – lots of food for thought.”

“I will keep this inspiration with me when looking at my own upcoming collaborations.”

– Delegates, 2015 Family Arts Conference

Book here

The Family Arts Conference is sponsored by Spektrix and Supercool.

Family Arts Campaign is supported using public funding from Arts Council England.


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