On Saturday October 4, the Everyman theatre will take part in a nationwide initiative in tribute to theatre director Joan Littlewood, to mark what would have been her 100th birthday by transforming itself into a Fun Palace. The Hope Street venue says it will break down the barrier between the audience and artists with a series of interactive activities involving the best of Liverpool’s local artists, including Sense of Sound choir, Young Everyman Playhouse Designers and contributions from local writers.
The Fun Palace was conceived by Littlewood and architect Cedric Price in 1961, as a new kind of cultural space where theatre buildings would cease to be intimidating edifices and where cultural experiences, both high and low, were possible. The Fun Palace concept embraced more than just theatre performances – its ‘big tent’ included song and dance, construction and mechanics, scientific experiments.
Littlewood’s manifesto was highly influential on artistic director Gemma Bodinetz when redeveloping the Everyman – a space that has often reflected Littlewood’s values itself during its 50-year history. Associate director Nick Bagnall has conceived the Everyman’s Fun Palace to encompass both the traditions of the Everyman and Littlewood’s enduring philosophy.
He said: “Joan Littlewood represents everything and more of what I feel theatre has to be – playful, rebellious and inclusive – so to be directly involved in celebrating her extraordinary vision at this most beautiful of theatres is a dream.”
Visitors to the Everyman on October 4 will witness, and can join in with, a range of activities – apparently, “a playwright in a lift will take short-form writing to the next level, visitors can experiment with nitrous oxide drinks in a laboratory bar and Sense of Sound choir will perform call and response works inspired by the people in the building on the day. A music room dedicated to dance, singing and drumming will host workshops while jamming sessions will allow anyone with an instrument to bring it along and get involved”.
Nick Bagnall will be in conversation with a series of influential thinkers about the impact Joan Littlewood had on them, while a Speaker’s Corner will give people the chance to have their say.
There will be the chance to get involved with some creative construction and build your own Fun Palace from found materials, while the ever-vibrant Young Everyman Playhouse will perform pop-up plays in secret locations. There is also the rare chance to explore the inner world of performers and stage crew before a performance takes place, as the Bright Phoenix company will open the doors to the public to see what happens behind the scenes.
The Everyman Fun Palaces is a free event and will run from 12pm to 6pm on Saturday, October 4. For more information visit the Fun Palaces website.