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96 Festival 2019: Extravagant line-up celebrates the very best of queerness and theatre

96 Festival, a no-holds-barred extravaganza of queerness and theatre, returns to Omnibus Theatre for a month of shows.

Events and performances setting up camp in the Clapham venue span the worlds of theatre, cabaret, drag, burlesque, comedy, music, art and activism.

Headlining the month-long festival is ‘Lipstick: A Fairy Tale of Iran’ by writer and director Sarah Chew. Described as part theatre and part drag, Chew’s show promises to be a timely story of rage and redemption.

Kicking off with a launch night on the 19th February, a discussion exploring how queer communities experience divides around class, ability, race and gender and how art can bring us together in shared moments of connection will take place asking the all-important question: How can we reinvent queer activism?

Facilitating the conversation will be Linda Riley, board director of GLAAD and Diva Magazine publisher; Lady Phyll, co-founder of UK Black Pride, ‘The Danish Girl’ and ‘Colette’ actor Rebecca Root, and Colette; Jan Gooding, chair of Stonewall UK; Cassie Leon, producer of The Cocoa Butter Club – the queer collective celebrating Performers of Colour; and Nemo Martin, writer, producer, podcaster and theatre-maker.

After the conversation, a selection of artists from 96 Festival’s glittering programme will take to the stage, sharing snippets of dance, theatre and cabaret.

“96 Festival is back by popular demand, this time with glittering events that bring neo-burlesque, poetry, comedy, drag, dance, and voguing together”

Conceived in remembrance and celebration of the iconic Pride party on Clapham Common in 1996, 96 Festival is being held this year in association with DIVA magazine.

Omnibus Theatre’s Artistic Director Marie McCarthy said: “I’m delighted that 96 Festival is back by popular demand, this time with glittering events that bring neo-burlesque, poetry, comedy, drag, dance, and voguing together for one spectacular celebration of queerness and theatre.”

‘Republica’ and ‘The Morning After The Life Before’ are highlight productions that open the festival. ‘Republica’ is a fusion of anarchic theatre and dance, presented by a trio of creatives including flamenco dancer and performance artist Juan Carlos Otero.

Irish theatre company Guna Nua present their play ‘The Morning After the Life Before’ presents a personal tale and experience of Ireland before and after the referendum on Marriage Equality. And don’t miss extraordinary fun-filled one-nighter’s in the shape of ‘The Cocoa Butter Club’ and ’24/7 Live’.

As the headliner, ‘Lipstick: A Fairy Tale of Iran’ runs through the 96 Festival from 26 Feb to 24 Mar. In 2010, just after the contested 2009 Iranian election, during riots urging the removal of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from office, writer/director Sarah Chew went to Iran on a theatre residency.

Chew’s play is inspired by that time, driven by the passionate desire to address the rise in hard borders and cultural and ethnic exclusion – from a political and from a personal perspective. Cabaret, workshops and post-show talks have also been programmed as complementary events exploring the issues in the play. See the website for more details.

During the final week of the festival, award-winning comedian and theatre-maker Elf Lyons brings her sell-out Edinburgh Fringe 2018 hit ‘Chiffchaff’ to London. Her one-woman show is about the economy, but not as you know it. The queen of clown and daughter of an economist is making the dismal science fun.

96 Festival runs from 26th February to 24th March.

You can buy tickets and see the full festival line-up right here.

Written by QWEERIST editor

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