We’re well and truly in the swing of festival season now. Big tents are popping up all across London for music-lovers, booklovers and art enthusiasts to get their cultural fixes, and one event that should definitely be on your radar is Liberty.
Happening from September 1-3, the festival will be taking place at Fairfield Halls in Croydon, the London Borough of Culture, and celebrates the work of disabled artists and performers from across the country.
Featuring dance performances, immersive theatre, poetry readings and even fitness workouts, Liberty has been curated by charity Drunken Chorus and will have access and inclusivity built into every element of the weekend. It will also play host to some seriously exciting artists: here are our picks for the best shows to see.
Journey to A Better World
This free-to-attend exhibition is curated by the London-based, disabled-led arts organisation Touretteshero, and for it the team will be constructing a spaceship (called the Starship Biscuit) in The Cube.
“Everyone is welcome on our journey to a better world,” the tagline says, and to prove it, the exhibition will also be hosting a series of immersive encounters with both artists and activists over the weekend. Drop in to relax in the Tranquility Node, create your own planet to add to the exhibition’s Solidarity Solar System, or play around in the area’s zero-gravity themed play area.
Liberty Live Comedy Show
Head to Fairfield Halls’ Ashcroft Theatre on September 1 to experience some first-class stand-up comedy. Billed as a mixed comedy night with a host and three separate acts, you’ll be able to enjoy jokes from Francesca Martinez (who has previously appeared on Live at the Apollo and The Jonathan Ross Show) and Aaron Simmonds (from Russell Howard Hour and Undeniable). Fellow comedians Steve Day and Variety will also be making appearances.
This is a ticketed event, and tickets can be purchased here.
If You’ve Seen It You Haven’t Seen It
Poet, performer and theatre maker Ellen Renton invites guests into her world with this free immersive installation. Taking place between September 1-3 in the Foyer at Fairfield Halls, the show comprises a series of images, which will be accompanied by an audio guide.
However, all is not as it seems: the audio guide itself is the show here. Taking on the role of an unreliable narrator, the abstract commentary calls into question the relationship between what we see and hear, opening the mind to the many ways in which an image can be interpreted.
Noise from Nua Dance
Don’t miss this one-night-only offering from Nua Dance, the passion project of choreographer Neus Gil Cortes. Following in the footsteps of the company’s interactive film NOISE (which reimagines a dance performance as a sensory experience for both hearing and non-hearing people), the company will be performing NOISE live for an audience.
There are no seats here: instead, viewers are invited to move through the space and around the three dancers, choosing their own path through the performance in a way that calls to mind theatre company Punchdrunk’s famous immersive performances.
Though it’s free, you do have to book tickets: do so here.
Transhuman Embodiment and Beyond
Disabled visual and performance artist Rachel Gadsden will be holding court in the Foyer on the evening of September 1 for her one-off performance. The show will pair her considerable talent with that of sound designer (and composer in residence at Eton College, no less) Freddie Meyers.
Teased as a dynamic live art and sound performance, the show will feature Gadsden painting one-off pieces of art, soundtracked by Meyers’ music. Though their combined work, the pair are seeking to “consider how chronic illness and disability not only present challenges, but also empower and authorise agency of the body.”
Closing out the festival at 6pm on September 3 will be a series of performances headlined by the renowned Candoco Dance Company. Two self-professed “contemporary dance geeks”, Kimberley and Anne-Gaëlle, present Team With No Name, a performance where the pair will be both dancing and engaging in conversation with each other.
This will be followed by a reading from Scottish poet and performer Ellen Renton, who will be drawing on her own experiences of growing up with disability. Exploring freedom, shame and friendship, Renton will use her work to ask what it means to look different, and see differently.
Liberty Festival will take place from September 1-3 at Fairfield Halls and Queen Gardens in Croydon. Find out more here