Best of 2015: Staff Cultural Highlights
Thu 21 Jan 4PM
2015 is an important year for Jacksons Lane. To celebrate our 40th anniversary as North London's creative and cultural hub, we commissioned two special productions with our Associate Artists Silver Lining and the world-renowned Gandini Juggling. We launched our very first nation-wide tour of The Hogwallops by up-and-coming company Lost in Translation Circus. We continued our support of emerging artists and young people, further cementing our status as the UK's leading venue for contemporary circus.
On top of the fantastic shows we put on, we also encourage our team to go out and see performances in London and beyond. Here's some of their higlights from 2015:
Jon Attfield, Duty Officer
My highlight of the year was seeing The Double R Club during the summer at London Wonderground on the South Bank. A dark and twisted cabaret show inspired by the work of David Lynch they hold regular nights in Bethnal Green. But inside the Spiegeltent they are really able to cut loose, incorporating stunning aerial and circus performances into show crammed full of dark, twisted, atmospheric cabaret.
Lauren Ball, Marketing Manager
Of the many West End shows I saw in 2015, the one that’s stayed with me the most is Andrew Keates’s revival of As Is at Trafalgar Studios. It’s a brilliant piece of writing – so unexpectedly funny and deeply moving, with a stellar central performance from Steven Webb. Chalk was left in the theatre and audiences wrote tributes to loved ones affected by HIV and AIDS on the walls, which were covered by the end of the run. My Edinburgh Fringe highlight was Cirque le Roux’s Elephant in the Room; so strong in aesthetics, acrobatics and narrative, and I hope it makes its way to London soon. And finally, from across the pond I became obsessed with Hamilton. I haven’t made it to New York yet, but I’ve listened to the OCR so many times I know every word. And there are LOADS of words.
Adrian Berry, Artistic Director
So much to choose from, but some standouts were....
Ricochet Project’s Smoke & Mirrors - all the way from New Mexico to Edinburgh, no promotion, just word of mouth and standing ovations every night for this hyper-intelligent circus duet.
Circumference’s Shelter Me, beautiful use of the old Guardian building at Theatre Delicatessen and the most awe-inspiring finale I have seen in some time.
Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly - poetic hiphop reinvented with avant-garde jazz and skewered beats. Mindblowingly good.
David Bowie's Blackstar - once more he left foots us all and leaves the competition dragging behind with 10 minutes of arabic-influenced genius and plastic soul.
Oh and Abi Morgan’s River was a beautifully-written, compelling TV series that left me wanting more.
Candace Chan, Marketing Assistant
Ai Weiwei’s exhibition at the Royal Academy is phenomenal. It was a very emotional experience to be immersed in his daring, ingenious and visually stunning work, many of which are stark commentaries on the lack of creative freedom and human rights in China. I saw Bryony Kimming’s Edinburgh hit Fake It Till You Make It at Soho Theatre and was deeply moved by the bittersweet story about love and clinical depression – this piece can and hopefully will save many lives. Born to Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity, screened at the BFI Flare festival, tells the incredible story of Streb who dedicated her life to creating daredevil performances pushing the boundaries of the human body. And finally, Jacksons Lane’s 40th anniversary commission META is a visual treat, I’ve never seen juggling so poetic, witty and skilled.
Stuart Cox, Head of Participation
Carrie at Southwark Playhouse: As a musical theatre fan this was very exciting to see. Carrie is one of Broadways most notorious flops and based on Stephen King’s book and horror film. This production did not disappoint. The intimacy of Southwark Playhouse suited the piece, the staging was excellent and the singing performances especially from Kim Criswell were superb.
Follies In Concert at Royal Albert Hall: This was such a fun experience. It is the most amazing score by Sondheim and for me the piece worked really well in concert. The best part about it was seeing one of my favourite performers Betty Buckley belt out the classic “I’m Still Here”
Kiki Stevenson, Admin & Events Assistant
I have seen some amazing work over the past year but one of the most memorable was Lippy at the Young Vic. It was an intensely visceral play about trying to solve the real life mystery of four Irish women who deliberately erased all traces of their existence before starving themselves to death. The production demonstrated through one character’s attempt to lip read these women’s conversations how we try to create narratives and fill in the gaps, when we just may never know.
Jack Summers-McKay, FOH Supervisor
My cultural highlight from 2015 was seeing People, Places & Things in the Dorfman at the National Theatre. I went in with no expectations of the piece, not having read a synopsis or any reviews, and I was completely blown away. In one of the final scenes, I found myself so emotionally engaged with the characters that my stomach was churning and I genuinely had to resist running on stage to try and stop something terrible that I thought was about to happen. I can’t remember the last time I was so captivated or so engaged in the theatre, and I would highly recommend seeing it during its West End transfer to The Wyndham’s. I would also mention Imelda Staunton’s incredible performance in Gypsy at The Savoy, I know I’m not the first to say it, but she really was incredible, and finally Star Wars: The Force Awakens, because it’s awesome!!
James Tilston, Chief Executive
It's been a very busy year! In terms of circus, I absolutely loved the live art cross over and dark imagery of Company New World's Globally Wanted at Jacksons Lane in March, and fell in love with our birthday commission at Jacksons Lane Throwback by Silver Lining - I can't remember the last time I left a theatre feeling so elated. My favourite show I saw at Edinburgh this year was the hilarious and beguiling Women's Hour by Sh!t Theatre. Though my absolute culture highlight of the year (and probably even longer) was the incomparably wonderful Backstage in Biscuitland by Touretteshero - funny, challenging, insightful and bonkers.
Ruth Turner, General Manager
Firstly I’d choose the completely uninhibited PonyboyCurtis: At The Yard, during NOW15. This performance was a game-playing chaotic showing of some of the most genuine human relationships I’ve seen on stage. Next up, Hi-Brow, a club night by Figs In Wigs at Bethnal Green Working Men’s club. I love putting on a glitter mono-brow, easy-peasy. As part of SPILL festival, I really enjoyed Weird Séance by Daniel Oliver, at The Barbican. A particular highlight was his grass-covered house-band, The Snapped Ankles. Of many shows I saw at Camden People’s Theatre this year, I loved the double-bill of Stud by Eilidh MacAskill (Hilarious and such a skilled performer) & Joan by Milk Presents. Drag King theatre is the future. Finally, this year I discovered the Queer Vegan Disco At Karamel club in Wood Green – an all vegan bar & club night with great music and friendly people (unfortunately this is finishing in January – can’t miss the last one!).