The Covid Letters | Death of England | Some like it Hip Hop | Dishing the Dirt | the Sound of the Forest...
This week our cultural guide continues with an eye-catching exhibition from young people giving their unique take on COVID-19, a stunning (and socially distanced) one-man show at the National Theatre and a timely book about house cleaners. Check out the best experiences, shows, exhibitions, books and more, to add some colour to your week.
VISIT the Foundling Museum's latest art exhibitionThe Covid Letters, which gives voice to young people under the age of 16, about the Government’s handling of COVID-19. The brainchild of Jonny Banger, London’s leading contemporary bootlegger and owner of subversive fashion label Sports Banger, The Covid Letters is an art project which reappropriates Boris Johnson’s 'Letter to the Nation' on coronavirus, which was sent to 30 million households in the UK during the lockdown. Over 200 young people from toddlers to teenagers interpreted the letter in their own way, drawing directly on to it with pens, pencils, paints and collage to design their own poster and articulate their feelings about COVID-19. The result is a collection of works ranging from a simple scribble to calls to support the NHS with more PPE, to anti-government graffiti. Intended to encourage protest, dialogue and debate among young people, the exhibition manages to capture the unheard voices of children while adding a new chapter to the museum’s 300-year-old story of campaigning and social justice. Described by Foundling Museum Trustee and Turner Prize-winning artist, Jeremy Deller, as ‘funny, naughty, and angry’ in equal measure, The Covid Letters is an important exhibition that offers a rare, uncensored and emotional insight into the minds of young people during these difficult and unprecedented times.
The Covid Letters: A Vital Update opens at the Foundling Museum on 24 October 2020 and runs until 17 January 2021. Join the conversation #covidletters and for more information, visit https://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/ and follow @thefoundlingmuseum @BangerJonny on Twitter.
SEE Death of England at the National Theatre. The iconic National Theatre has been hard at work transforming its stunning Olivier Theatre into a socially distanced space to allow audiences to return to the irreplaceable experience of live theatre. This week is a chance for audiences to see Roy Williams and Clint Dyers' powerful ‘state-of the-nation’ play about a young black man confronting both the death of his father and the legacy of the country that shaped him. This astonishing one-person performance engages with burning questions around race, class and anger in modern Britain and the socially safe ‘in the round’ production is a must-see for those yearning the unique impact of live performance.
WATCH Some Like it Hip Hop by ZooNation: The Kate Prince Company, the latest production showing on Sadler’s Wells' Digital Stage in Focus. This Thursday (29 October) Sadler’s Well’s will showcase an on-demand production of the hugely popular 2011 smash-hit dance musical, via its Instagram and YouTube Channel. Bringing clever storytelling, sensational hip hop choreography and a high energy original score, this one-off screening will take your tier two Thursday night from lockdown to locking, popping and backflipping in your living room. A twist on the classic Billy Wilder movie, Some Like it Hot and drawing on themes from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, it tells the tale of love, mistaken identity, crossdressing and revolution through dance, and offers a good dose of comedy, slapstick and drama in equal measure. You can also watch the making of the production featuring interviews with the cast and creative team.
READ Dishing the Dirt by Nick Duerden. It’s estimated that almost one in three London households employ cleaners or rely on some form domestic labour, yet very little is known about the mysterious lives of those who keep our homes spotless, and the relationships they forge with those who pay their wages. In Dishing the Dirt, journalist Nick Duerden lifts the lid, quite probably for the first time ever, on what it is really like to be a house cleaner in modern day Britain. He interviews a range of diverse protagonists from mainly migrant backgrounds, including those who have made a successful business out of the profession, those who have been brutally enslaved, those who clean the houses of the mega rich, and even those who are paid premium rates to clean in the nude. It’s a remarkable, myth-busting piece of social commentary, which really does dish the dirt on some of the untold stories, lifestyles, hopes, dreams and aspirations of house cleaners. But perhaps the most fascinating thing about this book is its neat exploration of the relationship between client and cleaner, how they interact and build up a rapport and trust over time, and what these dynamics might tell us about the realities of modern society.
LISTEN to The Sounds of the Forest , From the Forge podcast by Wild Rumpus. Bringing together conservation and creativity, this pioneering organisation explores the juncture between art, culture and the natural world. As an alternative to the Timber Festival this year, they have created the ‘Sounds of the Forest’ project, which captures the uplifting and fascinating sound textures of the forest, to encourage people to think about their relationships with trees and woods. They have asked members of the public to go out and record one minute of sound from their local woodland to make up part of their digital sound map. Capturing the soundscapes of the Whirligig Woods and meeting artists who have been staying there since lockdown, this brilliant podcast is a window on the power of nature and human creativity.
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