Inua Ellams, Albany and We Are Lewisham at 05Fest

Poetry takes center stage at the Albany in March with an international award-winning, acclaimed poet Hair Salon Chronicles, demigod of rain playwright and performer Inua Ellam bring his own brand of poetry and spoken word to South East London’s leading cultural hub, in collaboration with We are LewishamMayor London Borough of Culture 2022.

05Fest, taking place March 10-19, will bring together the different strands of Ellams’ work which he has staged in theaters and a variety of venues across the UK and overseas over the last 15 years.

The program of events includes; Research groupa responsive and spontaneous audience-driven poetry performance that most recently performed at the Donmar Warehouse; Poetry Movies Hack, a night that adds live poetry readings to the viewing experience of a chosen film to expand, deepen or highlight its themes. Cult film of the 80s Babylon will be screened; Poetry workshop on Twitter, a mass participatory creative writing session taking place in real time in the twittersphere; and the closing of the festival is rap partyto celebrate Lewisham as London’s Borough of Culture 2022, the lineup will feature a cast of star poets residing in and reverently taking over South London.

Kicking off 05Fest, named after Ellam’s “slight obsession” with the number 5, is the world premiere of her new play, a repeat reading of A block of flats. This futuristic exploration of climate change, kindness and empathy takes place one night in London. The universal forces of Chaos and Order have chosen five inhabitants of a building to decide the fate of humanity. The cast of seven will have multiple roles and will be led by Bush Theater Artistic Director Lynette Linton.

Ellams says, “I am thrilled and lucky that this first 05Fest is taking place in my own neighborhood. I’ve worked with the Albany for over 10 years, and hope the community of Deptford and Lewisham come out to celebrate and explore themselves and local creativity at these 5 events next month.

About his new piece which has been revamped twice during the pandemic shutdowns, Ellams adds: “I wrote A block of flats to try to understand the people who lived where I used to live, in a building in Brixton. I interviewed them, but the story could be set in any major city in the world, where class forces, capitalism, migration, gentrification and ageism are forcing their way into our lives, into our our own bodies, and prevent us from really seeing each other. All of this is framed by climate change, which poses the greatest threat to our way of life. It’s a lyrical poetic study of characters with intersecting stories, and there’s a huge sci-fi twist that I hope audiences appreciate. “

Gavin Barlow, General Manager/Artistic Director of the Albany comments, “We are thrilled to welcome Inua back to the Albany alongside a host of other poets and creators for 05Fest. With hard-hitting new work as well as company favourites, we look forward to welcoming the public back and showcasing some of Lewisham’s most exciting talent as part of its Borough of Culture year.

The full program can be found here.

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