This year’s press launch for the National Theatre’s annual River Stage Festival fell on the 6th June and was a groovy reminder of our nation’s rich variety of performance and theatre. We were immersed in the talent of the crème de la crème of the UK’s top performing artists as we were treated to a preview of this year’s upcoming acts. The sneak peek allowed us to glimpse a taste of the upcoming events, with each act representing one of the five weekends for which the River Stage will be running throughout the summer. From sass to funk, from glitter galore to banjo medley, you can expect this year’s River Stage to be their best yet, with a plethora of performances of all kinds! The event promises an extravaganza of all things performance: dance, music, acting, poetry and performance… the list goes on. And with all of that going on, you’re bound to find something that captures your creative interest.
The launch, hosted in the National Theatre’s Understudy, fostered a stylish and avant-garde atmosphere which was infused with a vibey artistic flare at each and every turn. With scrumptious cocktails and culinary delights (which will be sold at various stalls dotted around the festival) and the effortlessly glam interiors and set up, this year’s launch has set the bar for the event’s fourth renewal extremely high. And that’s before we even get started on the main attraction – the performances. Stevie’s personal favourite act was the event’s encore, which saw London’s leading queer performance venue The Glory’s Liza with A Z performing a cabaret-themed special, and had the audience captivated by her burlesque-style brilliance.
Heather’s personal favourite was the poetry performed by HOME Manchester. The name of this act is explanation enough of how heart-renderingly beautiful and nostalgic the performance is as, with an air of simplicity, the duo recreates images of those times when a city-dweller is in the troughs of their city experience. However, this performance is not a criticism of the city or its dwellers, but a eulogy to the city itself and how, even at the worst times, Manchester has always been there for them, to support, guide and shelter. They express and reveal the natural human characteristic of people attaching themselves to their surroundings, as it is due to these surroundings that they have become who they are today. The emotion and empathy that is generated by this simple yet sentimental performance is enough to make even the sternest audience member tender with nostalgia.
The River Stage’s launch was opened by a magnificent drag duo from The Glory – for which we have four words: serious sass, glitz, glamour. Following the vocal genius of compare for the day Virgin Xtravaganzah and John Sizzle, was HOME Manchester, who are returning to River Stage following their debut last year. Their act brings a snippet of northern talent to central London and incorporates a sense of emotive attachment to the environment, which is both relatable and resonating. Sadler’s Wells presented a diverse range of creative improvised dance accompanied by beatbox and rap, which brought a touch of magic and novelty to the scene and was both immersive and interactive. Nonclassical will be making its debut at this year’s River Stage, with its area of expertise being the regeneration of classical instruments to blend a storm of sounds that will shake you to your core. It is absolutely brilliant and chaotically funky. The National Theatre’s performance exhibited a family-focused musical group that brought the childhood interaction of theatre to adults and appeals to all age groups. And last, but not least, came Liza with A Z; steamy splendour. 10/10 recommend.
And now for the logistics. The River Stage begins its five-weekend long celebration of performance on Friday 13th July, with its last acts performing on Sunday 12th August – at 21:00 to be precise. Head on over to the National Theatre on any weekend that falls within the dates listed above to submerse yourself into the epic creative energy that will be drenching the South Bank this summer. And despite the intimate aura that the event promotes, the River Stage is no small affair; with over 40,000 people attending last year, the festival stands as London’s largest free outdoor arts festival. Oh, did we mention that already? All events are FREE. And it’s not only performance that is on offer; River Stage also conducts workshops, circus, live music, DJ’s, screenings, yoga… You name it, they’ve got it going on. For more information, head over to the National Theatre’s website here.
Five weekends filled with marvellous music, awesome activities and epic events, AND divine food and beverages. We’ll definitely be there. Stevie says to look out for DJ Paulette at 19:45-22:45 on Saturday 21st July for an evening of boogying, and Vinyasa Flow with Bright Dawn Yoga at 12:00-12:45 on Saturday 28th July to expel the toxins of the night before (maybe… probably). Heather is most looking forward to seeing the flamboyant Liza with A Z who, even upon first impressions, did not fail to deliver as she wows and stuns her audience with her pure talent (and left Heather a bit shook for some time after her performance).
So there you have it. This summer’s going to be a good one. We’ll catch you there.
Source: 2. The Glory at the River Stage Launch 2018 – by Ellie KurttzSource: 3. Breakin’ Convention for Sadler’s Wells at the River Stage Launch 2018 – by Ellie Kurttz
Source: 4. Le Gateau Chocolat for The Glory at the River Stage Launch 2018 – by Ellie KurttzSource: 5. Mrs. H and the Sing a-long band for The National Theatre at the River Stage Launch 2018 – by Ellie KurttzSource: 6. Manchester Project for HOME Manchester at the River Stage Launch 2018 – by Ellie Kurttz