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Hear Camden Roar

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Hear Camden Roar

Camden People’s Theatre has announced the programme for The Camden Roar…

Camden Roar is a three-week festival of all things Camden which will run from June 4th – 23rd 2024 to mark the venue’s 30th anniversary. First held in 2019 – to commemorate the 25th year of the theatre – the Camden Roar Festival explores and celebrates the lives and works of Camden residents, past and present.

Camden People’s Theatre will host a range of shows, from fully produced to nascent works-in-progress, each of which captures a unique facet of Camden and its history. The programme is made up of four  finished productions, five works-in-progress, and three sharings of early-stage and scratch performances.

These shows reflect heavily on the ways in which Camden has changed over time, our responsibility to the past, and the ways in which its history and present reality affect the lives of those who now call Camden home. A ‘psychogeographic festival’, The Camden Roar embraces the idea that geographical location has a profound effect on our emotions and choices.

Embracing Camden’s gay history: Camden has a long history of being a home and a haven for sexually nonconforming people, both in its music and arts scene and within local activism. Camden has been host to several iconic gay spaces and centres of LGBT belonging and community, including the Camden Lesbian Centre and Black Lesbian Group, which was the UK’s only dedicated lesbian centre and which closed in 1995. Headline show GRILLS powerfully unearths that history and the role of space and preservation in understanding queer narratives. Camden’s queer stories are also explored in work-in-progress SWEET TESTAMENT DIVINE, and scratch show THE CAMDEN QUEERS, both unpacking how Camden has provided a home for radicals and queer revolutionaries over time.

A bittersweet love letter to Camden: This programme explores not only the image of Camden as it is popularly seen, as a playground for artists and musicians and a melting pot for punks, queer people, and the counterculture, but also as it is in reality in 2024: an area where an increasing proportion of the adult population is affected by alcoholism (as evocatively explored in DRAWING ON THE BOTTLE), where social housing is increasingly difficult to access (as shown through lived experience in ART FOR ART’S SAKE), and the old spirit is fading in the face of increasing privatisation (as we see in 236 CAVENDISH MANSIONS). These shows come together to write a bittersweet love letter to the borough past and present.

Camden: harsh realities and new hope: While the ghosts of Camden may run wild in the public imagination (as seen in SECOND LIFE and work-in-progress SHE SELLS SANCTUARY ON THE PRINCE OF WALES ROAD) these plays also explore a reality for Camden’s people that is often less glamorous. The Camden Roar Festival showcases Camden-based stories of creative struggle (as seen in withnail and without nail), refugee experience (as delicately testified to in CITIZEN), it’s lesser-known activist past (as the history of CPT itself demonstrates in THE HISTORY OF OUR BUILDING) and the instability caused by erosion of community spaces (shown in scratch show THE OLD DAGGER). Each show weaves a different thread in a tapestry which showcases the unique nature of Camden and its many identities. Through this festival, and the ongoing existence of Camden People’s Theatre, these shows preserve the borough’s history, and demonstrate an ongoing hope for the future of the area as a place for artists to live, and then tell, their stories.

Sunday Takeover: There will be a community takeover day on Sunday 9th June that will feature a host of free workshops, talks, creative activities and performances. There will also be an interactive installation created at the start of the festival that audiences and artists can contribute to – more details to be announced.

Tolmer’s Square Festival: The festival will close with Tolmer’s Square Festival; a free family-centric arts festival in the heart of Tolmer’s Square, Camden (NW1), hosted by Camden People’s Theatre. The festival was founded in lockdown in 2020 to provide entertainment for socially distanced residents, and encompasses live performances from a variety of acts as well as ‘try-it-out sessions’ for the audience, encouraging people to get involved in everything from beatboxing to clowning and offers free food and drink, giant games, music, face painting, and more.

Artistic Director of CPT Brian Logan:

“On our twenty-fifth birthday in 2019, we staged the first ever ‘Camden Roar’ festival, celebrating and sharing stories from London’s most iconic borough. It was unforgettable: CPT at its best. How else then to mark our thirtieth birthday than by reviving that event, and inviting Camden’s people to curate it themselves?

“We couldn’t be more excited by the festival that’s taking shape, headlined by Mirrorball’s extraordinary story of Camden’s queer history, GRILLS, and including a first glimpse of our own project excavating the storied history of CPT’s building. We’re proud to be situated in this remarkable corner of central London, and can’t wait to share its stories, some extraordinary theatre, and a range of great workshops and activities, with local residents and audiences London-wide.”

The programme has been curated by Camden People’s Theatre’s Local Steering Group. The Steering Group meets monthly to work with CPT on programming, commissioning, and community initiatives, and is made up of ten diverse local volunteers with a connection to and passion for Camden. Its purpose is to ensure that a range of stories that democratically represent Camden’s full nature are programmed. This programme has been selected with a focus on encouraging Camden-based artists to develop their work, but also providing an outlet for stories about the unique area and its importance.

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