MONDAY 22 MARCH 2021 THISWEEKCULTURE.COM
TABLESPOON THEATRE: POTLUCK 2021
Winter is behind us, spring is beginning, and festivals of online content are popping up everywhere, which is marvellous news. One that really called out to me when I heard about it is Tablespoon Theatre Company's Potluck Festival, a collection of six events created specifically for the online space.

This young company is led by Alice Nottage, Jess Paris, Gioia De Martino, and Ellie Janes. I spoke to Alice, to find out more about the the festival, the company, and what to expect from them in the future.

CLICK HERE to read this Caro Meets interview.

Tablespoon Theatre Company's Potluck Festival takes place online from 26-28 Mar. For more information and to book tickets see the company website here.
With full-on COVID restrictions still in place, this week we are tipping the best in digital culture from across the UK - including online shows from performers and companies we first discovered at the Edinburgh Festival.


THREE FESTIVAL EVENTS>>

The Best Medicine Festival | Angel Comedy, Objectively Funny and Dave | 23-29 Mar (pictured)
Yay, for all the festivals that have continued online during the pandemic, and for those that have been created because of the pandemic. Here's one inspired by our difficult situation, coinciding with the anniversary of the first lockdown, and which acknowledges the impact it has had on people's mental health. The Best Medicine Festival aims to celebrate how comedy can destigmatise and raise awareness of mental health issues as well as offering support to those in the industry. There's a lineup of workshops and comedy shows to explore, plus a mental health panel discussion and a gala comedy night. Expect helpful advice on health and well-being, plus appearances from the likes of Tim Key, Ahir Shah, Sindhu Vee, Bethany Black, Felicity Ward and Harriet Dyer. The full line up events is listed here.

Time For Tea | Dunedin Fringe Festival | until 28 Mar
"It is 2002 - a fire devastates Edinburgh's Old Town, ripping homes apart. A single spark puts fire fighters to the ultimate test. The lives of the community passing through Edinburgh's Cowgate are caught by the media. Beginning in La Belle Angele nightclub, the blaze destroys eleven buildings and takes 80 fire crew 52 hours to put out". Long term edfringe types will probably remember this central Edinburgh fire and its impact on significant venues, and this play is inspired by that event. I certainly remember it, so will definitely be taking this in. The YouTube-hosted recording is included in the line-up of New Zealand's Dunedin Festival Fringe, alongside a few other shows to be made available online. Read more about the show here, and find the full list of internet-based events here.

Mark Watson: Wish You Were Here | Melbourne Comedy Festival | 22+29 Mar, 4 Apr
Moving on from New Zealand to its antipodean neighbour, we thought it might be a jolly wheeze to call in at the Melbourne Comedy Festival to spend some time with UK comedian Mark Watson. It's a long way to go about it, I suppose, but here we are. He's hosting two mixed bill online comedy shows "featuring some of the most loved international acts who should, right now, be here at the Comedy Festival, were it not for this bloody pandemic" - plus, early next month, he'll be doing another of his somewhat unhinged twenty four hour shows. Ah, I remember the time he did his first one, which feels like a really, really long time ago now. Anyway, the first two shows are probably on at weird times for here (I can't do the maths but I suspect you might have to watch first thing in the morning), but they will become available on demand following broadcast. Read more about Watson's shows here, and see what other online content is available from the festival here.


THREE THEATRICAL STREAMS>>

Scaramouche Jones | Ginger Quiff Media / stream.theatre | 26 Mar-11 Apr
There's a new production of Justin Butcher's acclaimed and powerful one man drama 'Scaramouche Jones' (which I think must be about twenty years old by now) coming to stream.theatre this month, directed by Ian Talbot and featuring familiar TV face Shane Ritchie. I'd be surprised if you weren't aware of this play, given its success, but just in case you are not: It's about a one hundred year old clown who, approaching the millennium, recounts his extraordinary life as a traveller of the world, and a witness of events of twentieth century global significance. His own experiences of a cruel and changing world are peppered with tragedy, but the story is told in a style both lyrical and comedic. For more info and to book tickets - see this page here.

Jabala And The Jinn | Belgrade Theatre | 27 Mar-24 Apr (pictured)
"We're in Bradford and it's been a few months since Jabala's beloved mum died. Dad is a brilliant father, but it's an effort to get her to school on time everyday. One morning, Jabala hears a voice speaking to her in Arabic. But no one's there. Could it be mum? Has she imagined it? With the help of a 'refugee boy' at school, a Shakespeare enthusiast called Munir, she summons a Jinn. But this is no ordinary Jinn and nothing like the one told to her in her grandma's stories. Jabala is in for a big surprise". Yes, you will probably have guessed that this is a children's show, which may well be helpful for those of you looking for Easter holiday entertainment. This looks excellent, so see this page here.

Testament | Via Brooklyn/Tristan Bernays/Lucy Jane Atkinson | 27 Mar-24 Apr
Readers may remember Tristan Bernays' 'Testament' from its staging at Vault Festival a few years back, a really interesting piece that sees four biblical characters transported to modern America, where they each tell their own, neglected story. "A sacrificial son. Sisters with a shocking secret. A man on death row. 'Testament' invites you to bear witness to the dark underbelly of The Good Book". It will be available to watch on demand for the dates above, but there are also launch parties taking place this week, which might be of interest. For more information and to book, see this page here.


THREE SPOOKY THINGS>>

Hairy Hands FM | Chronic Insanity | From 26 Mar
As someone who spent a significant amount of time in their youth consuming and absorbing myths and folklore and ghostly legends, I was bound to be piqued when I read the words 'Hairy Hands FM'. I was also bound to be piqued when I heard that it's from Chronic Insanity, a company we interviewed last year about their prolific output, and who are also behind the staging of '24. 23. 22' by Douglas Deans, featured back in February. Anyway, this is their latest output, delivered via smartphone, bringing to life alleged sightings of the Dartmoor Hairy Hands, blamed by motorists for a number of road accidents dating back to the 1920s. Read more about this, and other current and upcoming works, right about here.

The Black Cat | The Space | 23-26 Mar (pictured)
"Arguably considered Edgar Allan Poe's darkest and most twisted tale, 'The Black Cat' follows an alcoholic who has been driven to madness and violence by his addiction. On the eve of his death, he decides to share - or confess - his story. The whole story. In all its horrific and gruesome detail". This latest online production to be presented via The Space sees narrator Stephen Smith retelling the story as he moves round the venue's 1859 building, which promises to be an eerie promenade theatre experience, but at a distance, obviously, given that you will be taking it in from the comfort of your own sofa. For more information and to book yourself in, see this page here.

Showstoppers! Live Stream | 26+27 Mar
Yes, yes, you got me, there's nothing remotely spooky about this upcoming 'Showstoppers! Live Stream', but I will argue that their powers of improvisation are positively supernatural, and therefore for its inclusion in this section. And you know, who knows, it could be ghostly, if one of you makes the right suggestions. Anyway, I am pretty sure you all know all about Showstoppers, because this is really quite a long long way from being the first time we have tipped them and, of course, it's not just us that likes them, they're critically acclaimed in all quarters. So don't hesitate, head right this way to book your ticket.


THREE MORE FAB THINGS TO TAKE IN AT HOME>>

Tiff Stevenson: New Thoughts And Old Flames | NextUp Comedy | 28 Mar (pictured)
Let's start with some comedy, shall we, because we all still need cheering up, don't we? And let's go with a TW favourite road testing some no doubt fantastic stuff. According to the blurb you can expect "some new material on air rights, government incompetence, ruined proposals, dancing, the special relationship, pubes and human connection. With some guaranteed bangers thrown in". Which all sounds rather good to us, so make sure you head this way to book yourself in. Oh, and while we're talking about her, let me link to a Twitter thread of Ms Stevenson's that I keep reading and re-reading because it makes me laugh like a drain: it's here.

Thinking On Sunday: Britain And Borders - A Story Of Migration, Race And Law | Conway Hall | 28 Mar
"Borders are more than geographical lines - they impact all our lives, whether it's the fallout from Brexit or the inhumanity of a detention centre. The British Empire, about which Britons know little, can be remembered fondly as a moment of past glory, as a gift once given to the world. Meanwhile immigration laws are justified on the basis that they keep the undeserving hordes out. In fact, immigration laws are acts of colonial seizure and violence. They obstruct the vast majority of racialised people from accessing colonial wealth amassed in the course of colonial conquest". Another really interesting sounding talk from Conway Hall, featuring writers Leah Cowen, author of 'Border Nation', and Nadine El-Enany, author of '(B)ordering Britain'. More info here.

2.1 Fest | The Space | 28 Mar
We're headed back over to The Space for this one, and one that could actually have been at home in the festival section. It could also have been in the theatrical section, so perhaps it's better that it ended up here, finishing the week's tips with a bang. It's a one night festival of duologues, commissioned from four playwrights by The Space to create more original works to be produced via Zoom. There's 'A Pill' by Angie Peña Arenas, 'Five Stages' by Sebastian Rex, 'Expectant' by Abigail Chandler, and 'Brontosaurus' by Colin Scuffins, and they all sound really interesting. Mostly set in the future, by the look of things, and dealing with dystopian themes around citizenship and pregnancy, and life in a post-COVID world. See this page here.
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