Originally written for The Public Reviews
“This is our stage” is very much the motto of the evening at LIFT’s 2014 launch, as artists and members of the team gesture at the stunning cityscape of London spread beneath Centrepoint’s 31st floor. This year’s programme will encompass more of the city than ever before in their bid to “bring the world to London and show London its place in the world”, as the festival embarks on new relationships with BAC, the V&A and the Royal Academy.
Amongst 30 new productions and commissions that will take place across London from June 2nd– 29th, LIFT will also join the ranks of many artistic companies marking the centenary of WWI this summer, taking a unique approach with After A War which will take over Battersea Arts Centre for the weekend of June 27th -29th as 25 artists and companies from across the world interrogate the legacy of conflict. Elsewhere, Opus No 7 sees director Dmitry Krymov explore artistic censorship in Russia in a production that will also tour the UK later this summer, climate change and the wake of Chernobyl are investigated by Belarus Free Theatre in Red Forest and in Turfed, the directors of 2012’s The Dark Side of Love in partnership with Street Child World Cup use football to look at the reality of being homeless.
From this production stems the most moving moment of the evening, when Alina, a Romanian Romany artist, gives a heart wrenching speech on how unfair and arbitrary it is that we are born on the “winning team or the losing team.” Her battle cry that we should be “using art to challenge privilege and fight discrimination” could well be LIFT’s own – even when it is not overtly exploring racial identity and representation (Young Jean Lee’s The Shipment), dictatorship (Lola Arias’ The year I was born) and offering a free online performance promoting international connectivity (Longitude from elastic future with Hellicar & Lewis), LIFT is challenging theatres and audiences by breaking out into new spaces (Doon Street car park), new ways of experiencing performance (Rara Woulib’s Deblozay involves taking part in a funeral procession) and creating opportunities for artists like Alina, who fear that their accent or their grasp of English will be a barrier to performance in the UK.
LIFT’s printed programme is itself a work of art as Maddy Costa has curated a series of interviews and reflections on the festival’s past and present work that fully delivers a sense of why this festival is the most exciting and important in London, and perhaps the UK, today.
The full programme is now available on LIFT’s website, and the festival will also be running its own box office this year. LIFT runs from June 2nd – 29th at venues across London.