Art 50 Commissions
These are the projects we are funding so far
Mad Dogs & Englishmen by Gadzooks
Gadzooks will create a 5 minute quirky and absurd light-hearted short stop motion animated film inspired by kitsch paintings of dogs playing pool as seen in pubs around the country. It will feature unscripted conversations of people from around the UK on the subject of being British in the post Brexit era. The British – a nation of dog lovers – will discuss the quintessentials of British Culture manifested in their accents and as regional breeds of dogs.
GADZOOKS ANIMATION are made up of Manchester based film makers STEVE BOOT, HAYDN SECKER and PAUL ‘GRIPPER’ FLANNERY. They have twenty years of professional experience animating on popular children's productions such as Postman Pat, Roary the Racing Car, Raa Raa the Noisy Lion, Twirlywoos, Clangers, Little Robots, Andy Pandy, Rotten Ralph, Albie and many more as well as films such as Tim Burton's Mars Attacks and Frankenwenie,
The Britbot by Libby Heaney
An interactive online artwork by Libby Heaney, based around an AI computer bot programmed on the citizenship book ‘’Life in the UK: a guide for new residents’’ as well as classic British texts on social mores, literature and history. The Bot will then produce its own ‘test’ for the public to take - and see how British they are.
But it doesn’t stop there. As more people interact with the Bot, the Bot will ‘learn’ from them via complicated algorithms known as deep neural networks and change according to people’s responses. It will learn new words, new expressions, and new attitudes. It will allow us to see how Britishness varies from location to location and community to community.
It will go live for six months, inviting the public to partake. When the project ends, there will be a non-live version of the Britbot with a report that tells us something about the different communities that have taken the test. The report will be published in book form and also continue to live online.
LIBBY HEANEY is an artist from Tamworth in Staffordshire who studied at Central St Martins, teaches at the Royal College of Art and has exhibited at the Tate Modern amongst other places. Before this though, she studied quantum physics and retains an interest in that world – running the Systems Research Group at the RCA. She also holds a residency at Somerset House Studios.
And The Band Keeps Marching On by Martha Barnett
Provocative and humorous play exploring British identity post Brexit, from a Northern Irish Loyalist point of view - a group who often feel British in Ireland, but outsiders in England. It's a darkly comic study of identity, crisis and redemption, set in a Northern Irish Loyalist marching family in a border town. The play will be interwoven with verbatim text from interviews recorded during Loyalist parade season and will explore what Britain and Brexit mean to this community. Around 60% of the Northern Irish Loyalist community is estimated to have voted for Brexit.
Plot: Brian, a local band leader, goes on his first trip to the mainland to celebrate Brexit. The play starts on his return home to his family. Has a long weekend in London gilded his Britishness? How can he translate his experience to his family and friends who have never left the bubble of Northern Ireland? How will it affect this season’s marching and his desire for his son to wear the sash, learn the Lambeg drum and parade their Loyalty through the streets?
MARTHA BARNETT is a playwright, based in Edinburgh, but originally from Belfast. Her debut full-length play, ‘The Shift’, was shortlisted for the Theatre 503 Playwriting Award and her second, ‘Girl at a Stop’ was long-listed for the Old Vic 12 and has been in development at The Tron Theatre, Glasgow. She has also had readings and short plays produced at the 503, The Traverse and by Sky or the Bird. Martha likes to tackle controversial subjects in her writing - from backstreet abortionists to dementia - taking these issues and exploring them through the experiences of individuals.
Born into a Protestant Northern Irish family, in this play she wants to tackle the identity crisis she felt when she left Northern Ireland and to challenge the stereotypes other Brits had of her and the community she came from. She will tackle how people within the Loyalist community identify themselves and why – and what happens when this identity is questioned. The play will be an exploration and celebration of the complex, impassioned and sometimes absurd ways in which we define ourselves.
Come Hell or High Water - an urban oratorio by the Citizens Theatre
60 minute tapestry of live music, short dramatic scenes, poems and new songs exploring what it is to be Scottish and British post Brexit with local Glaswegians aged 17 to 70 from a range of backgrounds. 25 local community actors will sing and play alongside workshops asking participants to talk about their hopes and fears for future and “who do we want to be?’’ after leaving the EU.
Those involved will come from a broad range of social and political backgrounds and will include long-term unemployed, ex-offenders, people in recovery or with mental health issues, retired professionals, students and ‘New Scots’ - refugees.
There will be five performances in the Citizens Theatre’s Circle Studio to an audience of 300 invited guests and general public in March 2018.
CITIZENS THEATRE aka ‘The Citz’ is Glasgow’s oldest producing theatre, producing world-class theatre in the heart of the Gorbals for over 70 years and housed in a beautiful Victorian theatre dating from 1878. Representatives came to the Barbican ART 50 launch.
MARTIN TRAVERS is a dramatist based at The Citz where he is Producer for Citizens Learning. His plays Divided City and Scarfed for Life have been performed in schools and prisons across the Scottish Central Belt. His latest play is in development with the Scottish Playwrights’ Studio
THE CREATIVE TEAM includes the following Citizens Theatre staff: Dominic Hill (Artistic Director), Guy Hollands (Associate Director, Citizens Learning), Neil Packham (Community Drama Director), Elly Goodman (Community Drama Artist) and Finn Anderson, an experienced freelance musician, musical director and workshop leader.
Film poetry project by Simon Armitage
Film where poet & playwright Simon Armitage explores post Brexit British identity in a new work specifically created for Art 50 - a meditation on the relationship between Britain and Europe.
As the dial on an old Bakelite radio moves from city to city - Brussels, Prague, Lyon - we tune into an impressionistic and imagistic film that combines the poet-presenter along with sights and sounds associated with each nation mixed with sections of the poem providing a corresponding narration.
The question is, what happens when we turn to Britain on the dial? What do we see: dark satanic mills, the white cliffs of Dover baring their teeth at the continent? What do we hear - Jerusalem? Grime? Static?
Yorkshire born Simon Armitage CBE is one of the UK’s leading poets, on the school syllabus, winner of TS Eliot prize, the Forward prize amongst many others, Oxford Professor of Poetry and vice president of the Poetry Society. His work is accessible yet complex and combines dry wit with realism.
Jim Poyser is an experienced television producer with many writing and producing credits in comedy and drama including BBC, Big Talk, Tiger Aspect, Avalon, Red. Working Men's is his northern based company.
The Scary Bikers by John Godber
The Scary Bikers is an exciting new work from renowned playwright John Godber featuring an odd couple who embark on a tandem ride through Europe. The play features Godber himself alongside actress Jane Thornton, and it examines the effect of the 2016 Referendum on this new relationship. Opening at Theatre Royal Wakefield on 8 February 2018 before a UK Tour.
Retired miner Don and former private school teacher Carol meet at a bereavement group, but a tandem ride through Europe tests their budding romance as their stances clash post Brexit vote. Don is chippy and prejudiced, but Carol is out of touch. They need to try and understand each other to get the tandem back home to Yorkshire.
Hull based John Godber honed his writing skills on Grange Hill and Brookside and went onto become the third most performed playwright after Alan Ayckbourn and Shakespeare. Bouncers and Teechers have become seminal works with the former on the National Curriculum and as well as winning countless awards, also featured in Played In Britain: Modern Theatre in 100 Plays, an app which was published by the V&A Museum and charts the top 100 plays from 1945 to 2010.
Born into a Yorkshire mining family, Godber’s plays are known for their Northern warmth and accessibility – with two handers of people thrown together being one of his strengths.. This play is another two hander which he plans to make less naturalistic than his more recent work, and has been quoted as saying that it will have ‘a Dario Fo feel’ to it.
Photos courtesy of Amy Charles Media.
Art 50/50 by DanceXchange
ART 50/50 movement and performance pieces inspired by audience research on the subject of being British, produced by DanceXchange who present some of the best UK and international dance.
The pieces will be set in a site-specific location in Birmingham during Autumn 2018, with research projects and a small preview in June 2018 during International Dance Festival Birmingham, one of Europe’s major international dance festivals. The dance performances will reflect research and interviews from around 500 citizens who represent Birmingham, the city that was almost 50/50 in the Brexit vote.
The choreographer is the electrifying and witty dance artist Gary Clarke whose most recent widely acclaimed work Coal, co-commissioned by DanceXchange, looked at the old mining communities of the North. Originally from Barnsley, Gary is one of the UK’s leading contemporary dance artists. His quirky choreography is thought provoking, visually striking and instantly recognisable.
Stock by Naqqash Khalid
Stock is a short film by Naqqash Khalid, set in the diverse Manchester Warehouse district, which explores European anxiety and communication in Post-Brexit Britain through the hyperreal. The story follows a 25-year old fashion buyer, who has lived in the UK for just a few months, after moving from his native France. One day after work he is brutally attacked, becoming victim of a hate crime.The film then ventures into the absurd as he awakes to a heightened and nightmarish world. When being questioned by the authorities, instead of being asked to give a witness statement, he is detained and interrogated for information about a crime he did not commit, but one he becomes the main suspect in. The film will look at how we communicate - or fail to communicate - with one another, with no character in any scene speaking the same language as any other.
NAQQASH KHALID is a director from Manchester. He was recently awarded the Young Filmmaker Award at the Starburst International Film Festival for his short film PARTS which he shot in one day in New York. He is presently developing his first feature film. Previously, Naqqash's plays have toured small theatres in the UK.
We have commissioned three projects with one of our Art 50 partners - The Barbican.
They will present new pieces created by acclaimed UK theatre-makers Told by an Idiot, who will tackle the lack of diversity on the British stage by devising a new theatre piece with a group of 12 performers, six of whom have a disability;
We hear how the older generation feels as New York-based duo Split Britches, who will take inspiration from the 1964 film Dr Strangelove and its iconic War Room, inviting members of the audience to join them in debating how to look forward in a rapidly changing world.
The Barbican will also see the Los Angeles Philharmonic and world-renowned conductor Gustavo Dudamel arrive for an International Associate residency, also delivering a Youth Manifesto - an open rehearsal with 150 musicians from the National Youth Orchestra and from around the UK, plus a book inspired by the thoughts of 40 young people from Britain, alongside 10 young people from America, on nurturing music for future generations.
British Songbook by Hanbury & Groves
Britain loves to sing in choirs of all types - Gospel, NHS, Male Voice, Fishermen’s, Schools, Acapella and Rock, to name a few… In fact, there are more choirs than football clubs in the UK so commissioning this ambitious choir project was a no-brainer for Art 50.
Rebecca Hanbury and Alex Groves will connect with choirs that reflect the diverse, wide ranging people that make up this United Kingdom, and work to unite disparate communities through shared ideas and song.
How will they do this? They will talk to choir members about what it means to be British and use these conversations to create a songbook. The focus will be on the reasons why people have different views and images of Britain, rather than reinforcing the in/out binary that for so long has defined our current political discourse.
Interviews will be turned into lyrics by Rebecca and then set to music by Alex. The music will then be given to the choirs to learn and a website created to form an online hub and community for the songbook. Here choirs will be able to find out more about the songbook, share details of their performances and engage in a dialogue around the project as a whole. The music will be performed up and down the country in local communities, arts centres and potentially at both the Barbican and Sage with a possibility of a performance at Snape Maltings, where Rebecca and Alex are resident artists as part of the Open Space scheme.
ALEX GROVES is a composer, previously commissioned by the Union Chapel and Royal Opera House & East London Dance.
REBECCA HANBURY is a theatre director, who has worked for Glyndebourne, Welsh National Opera, Regents Park Open Air Theatre & Scottish Opera.
They have worked together under the name Born Mad for the past 4 years making music, theatre and installations which use real life testimonials and live song and recently rebranded to Hanbury and Groves. Their work has been supported by Ovalhouse, Bristol Old Vic and Snape Maltings amongst others.
Small Town Politics by Gulliver Moore
Small Town Politics is an online sitcom consisting of 3 episodes at around 6 minutes each. Inspired by a real life story, it features a young female mayor in post Brexit Britain, set in a quaint British town. It’s a brave new Brexit world – and this optimistic view highlights a rural community, full of different types of characters, whom the team making it think have been unrepresented until now. Imagine The Vicar of Dibley meets The Thick of It - with a touch of Parks and Recreation.
GULLIVER MOORE is a 28 year old comedy writer/producer/director originally from Frome in Somerset. He works with a regular team including:
OLI CLUBB is a 25 year old Cinematographer working in commercial, short film and branded content.
NICK COUPE is a 28 year old comedy producer from South London
Brand Identities for Millenial Britain by Common Vision
Common Vision will work with millennials from around the UK to create witty brand identities and fictional products that address questions such as ‘what does it mean to be British?’ ‘Does a cohesive British identity exist?’ ‘If we had to market our Britishness what would it look like?’ They are keen to stress that the brand identities will move beyond stereotypes like Britpop and the Union Jack.
CAROLINE MACFARLAND is an editor and curator and LAURA GORDON is a graphic designer who together form part of COMMON VISION aka CoVi – a think tank that produce millennial centred, innovative and sharable ideas about economics, politics and society using creative and visual media.
Farmers in North Wales by Phil Hatcher-Moore
Photography project portraying hill sheep farming communities in rural Wales. The images will be exhibited in spaces in rural areas and cities, with a select few on roadsides and footpaths to show the inner workings of life in the North Wales countryside. Phil will seek to get behind romantic notions of the uplands to examine the reality of living in an EU designated ‘less favoured areas’, where farming communities have been heavily subsidised by the EU (80% of some farmers income – itself an average of £13,000). To do this, he plans to look into the workers’ lives and draw parallels and themes, following them across the different jobs they do. He is also interested in how generations of families have shaped the land that we call our country.
PHIL HATCHER-MOORE is a photo-journalist based in Wales but who travels the world in search of images and stories. His clients include the Guardian, AFP, Le Monde and other major news outlets where he has covered conflicts in Syria, Libya and South Sudan.