Celebrating performing arts at the V&A

The festival centres around the birthday of Shakespeare on April 23.
GB. London. Davenport’s Magic Shop, Strand. Naomi Paxton in her roles as former magician’s assistant and magician Ada Campe. 2019.

Celebrating 100 years of the V&A’s Theatre and Performance collection, the London museum this month is hosting a Performance Festival exploring the theme ‘remastered’ with a thrilling ten-day programme celebrating theatre and performance in all its forms.

Through a range of special free and ticketed events – live performances, talks, tours, screenings, workshops, and more – Remastered invites audiences to explore the beauty of
transformation; from making anew, to remixing the past, and inspiring the future. Centred each year around Shakespeare’s birthday on April 23, the festival transforms V&A South Kensington into a stage where actors, musicians, dancers, comedians, and designers animate the gallery spaces and visitors are brought face-to-face with leading practitioners from across the performing arts.

Highlights from the programme include the iconic Red Ladies, a group of identically dressed women from the award-winning performance company Clod Ensemble, who will present a theatrical demonstration in the V&A’s Raphael Gallery, along with solo performing missions happening spontaneously throughout the building. Dance company Thick and Tight will stage Unearthly – a brand new performance piece that reexamines the colour blue in the V&A’s collection through a queer lens.

In celebration of Record Store Day, audio company Bowers & Wilkins will create an interactive installation of sound equipment, similar to that used in the legendary Abbey Road Studios, inviting visitors to listen to their favourite albums on the equipment used to master them.
Throughout the festival audiences can enjoy screenings from the National Video Archive of Performance, including a groundbreaking all-female performance of Julius Ceasar (Donmar Warehouse, 2013), a theatrical double bill showing two interpretations of Caryl Churchill’s play A Number – 2002’s production (Royal Court) starring Michael Gambon and Daniel Craig and the 2022 production (Old Vic) with Lennie James and Paapa Essiedu, and an interactive family-friendly screening of The Tiger Who Came to Tea, plus more.

There will also be a series of workshops and talks on puppetry, life-drawing, songwriting, South Asian theatre, Shakespeare, and the famous JW Anderson cardigan worn by Harry Styles.

Further festival programming includes a special Friday Late looking at the next waves of feminism through the lens of performance. April’s Late will explore how feminist practices of care can be extended beyond conventional boundaries of gender and race, extending support for communities under-represented in the previous waves.

This year V&A South Kensington also celebrates the centenary of its Theatre and Performance collections. In 1924, the museum accepted a donation of over 80,000 playbills, programmes, and ephemera from Gabrielle Enthoven, kicking off the museum’s collecting of theatre and performance which has since evolved into the internationally renowned and recognised National Collection of Performing Arts. To mark this anniversary, the Theatre and Performance galleries will host a special display, Enthoven Unboxed: 100 Years of Collecting Performance, set to open this summer, along with a newly refreshed permanent gallery space.

For more information on the Performance Festival 2024 see the full programme online. The festival ends on April 28.

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