The Place presents: Splayed Festival 2020

30 Sep 2020

Digital Artwork: Eve Stainton

Rescheduled from the cancelled Summer season and adapted to the new rules of social distancing and online performance, The Place will reopen its doors this autumn with a queer festival.

Curated by dance artist Amy Bell, Splayed Festival draws together a cluster of subversive artists energised by queerness as an approach to creativity. With moving bodies at its heart, the festival offers up a fistful of bold new work, buzzing with urgency, experimentation and defiance. Audiences are invited to delve into live and pre-recorded performances, films, video essays, discussions, audio works and choreographic provocations to experience online or in the flesh, live or when it suits you.

Originally programmed for Summer 2020, this new edition of Splayed will offer digital content as well as the two first live performances at The Place since lockdown.

All the originally commissioned artists have adapted or created new work and found new working methods in what proves to be a festival of firsts.


Wed 14 Oct – 7.30pm Caj Collab –– live on Zoom

Thu 15 Oct – 7.30pm Eve Stainton – Rubby Sucky Forge – The Place Theatre- live
Claire Cunningham – Quanimacy – audio – online

Fri 16 Oct – 7.30pm Triple Bill: of video works by Mele Broomes, Malik Nashad Sharpe & Ellen Furey, Rosana Cade & Ivor MacAskill – followed by live online discussion

Sat 17 Oct – 7.30pm Azara – Just Another Day and Night – The Place Theatre – live

Sun 18 Oct – 7.30pm Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Fest short films – Our Bodies Can Fly – online with live online Q&A with film makers

Curator Amy Bell says: “Splayed is back for a second edition this year – and if queerness is about disrupting norms, then 2020 is already a pretty queer year. Now more than ever, what we thought we knew about bodies, gender, power, desire, violence, connection and performance is vibrating, being upended and reimagined. Splayed asks the urgent, awkward questions about how we relate to these ideas and to each other. In these uncertain times, this extraordinary line up of artists brings a joyfulness and a rigour to dismantling convention. They show us new ways of being together.”

CAJ COLLAB (14 OCT) is a performance experiment that has built something of a cult following after iterations at Poplar Union, Tate Modern and Dance Reading Festival. Facilitated by Michael Kitchin and Eve Veglio-White, CAJ COLLAB invites two artists who have never worked together before and gives them one day to create a performance. Audiences on Zoom can witness the unique chemistry and the sparks that fly when two brilliant artists, Nando Messias and Rebecca Bellantoni, meet for the first time and creative minds collide.

Thu 15 OCT The Place will open its doors again for the first live performance since lockdown with a very exciting premiere. Eve Stainton’s new work Rubby Sucky Forge was due to be premiered at And What Queer Arts Festival in March but was then cancelled due to the pandemic. The Place is excited to now present this never before seen work together with And What.

Three dancers, Eve Stainton, Joseph Funnell and Gaby Agis, work with scaffolding bars and tank traps to think through and with the emotional edges of metal. The forge, a place of melting down and hammering out, stands as a metaphor for the constructs of gender. Navigating pain, conflict, consent, resentment and release, a socially distanced audience set in the round will be witness to the vibrancy of a visceral, explosive live performance with armour-like costumes by Sophie Donaldson and digital collage elements by Eve Stainton.

Thursday will also see the launch of a newly commissioned audio work by Claire Cunningham. As a disabled artist who feels allyship with queer critiques of normative bodies and desires, Claire interrogates queerness as a creative approach used to subvert the way we read or recognise gender or sexuality. Part biography, part technique, part conversation Quanimacy (from the concept of Queer Animacy) is an intimate testimony from Cunningham on the evolution of a practice which developed from and gave rise to the self-recognition of a queer plural body of flesh, bone & crutches.

Featuring contributions from Prof. Julia Watts Belser, scholar, theologian and activist for disability, LGBTQ, and gender justice and writer on Queer Animacy, the work will also exist as a piece of writing to be read if preferred.

Fri 16 OCT will be purely digital with a triple bill of pre-recorded works for video by a line-up of cutting edge, in demand artists Malik Nashad Sharpe & Ellen Furey, Rosana Cade & Ivor MacAskill, and Mele Broomes. All works have been specially made for Splayed festival, with the artists exploring new avenues of their practice. The films will be followed by live online discussion with curator Amy Bell. The works will be available to watch for a limited period on The Place website.

Sat 17 OCT will see the second live performance at The Place. Azara is an artist who first caught our eye at Resolution 2019. The emerging choreographer and poet uses spoken word, breakdancing and theatre to share a personal story in Just Another Night and Day, and finds a humorous, affecting and very nuanced way to explore how gender, sexuality, class and race interlink.

“Riding the rhythms of playfully sharp language… this was a heartening, thoughtful show from a generous, gifted artist.” – Donald Hutera (The Times)

A socially distanced audience on three sides is taken on a journey by a charismatic performer and story-teller, accompanied by two live drummers, proving that intimacy doesn’t have to mean proximity.

Closing Splayed on Sun 18 OCT will be Our Bodies Can Fly, a collection of five short films from around the world in partnership with Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Fest. The programme shifts from documentary explorations of fat positivity to black queer femme poetics; trans power in Brazil and surreal animated stories of sensuality and subversion. Each in their different ways, these short films centre the body as a site of creativity, resistance and expansion, a celebration of community building and vivid ways of being and loving for everyone. A Q&A with the international group of film makers and Fringe! Programmer Josefeen Foxter will be held live online. The films will be available online for 30 days.

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