ReStage: Radical Theatre in Camden

Swiss Cottage Gallery past exhibitions: 2015

ReStage: Radical Theatre in Camden

By Dmitri Galitzine

01.06 - 21.07, 2015

 

In 1968, the Theatres Act abolished centuries of censorship and set in motion a flourishing radical and progressive theatre tradition in Camden. Theatre companies sprung up in derelict buildings harnessing whatever came to hand, including their own bodies, in an attempt to make sense of their world through storytelling. Double-decker buses and pub benches became impromptu stages, previously unheard voices were finally given a platform for acting out counter-cultural narratives, challenging society’s prejudices and questioning 1970’s Britain.   

ReStage (c) Swiss Cottage Gallery
ReStage (c) Swiss Cottage Gallery

The pieces seen in this exhibition – the props, posters and words handwritten on signs – were remakes of the original stages, props and costumes from radical theatre performed in Camden after 1968. Audience members were invited to explore these reconstructions in the same spirit of celebration and curiosity as in which they were originally made. By pressing their bodies into them the audience could discover their own hidden histories and, as they tried the costumes on for size, were urged to explore how these would suit them in the present.

ReStage (c) Swiss Cottage Gallery
ReStage (c) Swiss Cottage Gallery

Through ReStage the audience was invited to re-imagine history, with the costumes and props as their guides. And as our histories here literally revolve around them, they were asked to reflect: to what extent can we set the stage of our future?
 

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