Fuel today announces its 2018 season features a programme of work commissioned to imagine what kind of world might lie ahead. Fuel invites artists to illuminate the past, and reflect on where we are today, to help us imagine a future, considering some of the biggest questions we are faced with today – from gender to migration – both at scale and in intimate settings.
Fuel’s Director Kate McGrath said “Fuel’s 2018 season is about how we got here and where we’re going. There’s a sense from everyone we’re working with that we urgently need to understand where we’ve come from – individually and collectively – so that we can start to imagine and shape the future, at this moment in history. All the work we present in 2018 is preoccupied in different ways with this. There’s a feeling we’re on the brink of a future we don’t understand.”
Fuel’s year begins with So Many Reasons, which will headline the Calm Down Dear festival of feminist theatre at Camden People’s Theatre (16 Jan – 3 Feb) before touring.So Many Reasons considers generational divides, looking at the different ways mothers and daughters view female sexuality. Fuel will produce the show written and performed by British Ghanaian artist Racheal Ofori, which will be directed by Zoe Rafferty. It follows the critical and commercial success of Racheal Ofori’s previous Fuel-produced show Portrait, which was performed at Calm Down Dear 2015, the Southbank Centre’s Women of the World and was broadcast on the BBC. Following the CPT dates, the production will tour, including dates in theatres at Greater London schools in partnership with A New Direction.
Intimate storytelling and innovative sound design combine in This Restless State, a new collaboration between writer Danielle Pearson and performer Jesse Fox (Engineer Theatre). Weaving together three stories from across Europe at different times – in 1989 around the fall of the Berlin Wall, in London in 2017, and in Rome in 2052 – each considering the personal and political choices we make and the fact that our beliefs and our personal feelings don’t always match up. Fuel will produce this new solo performance which tours nationally from 12 March to 28 April, leading audiences on a journey across our continent’s past, present and future in a story of family, national identity, conflict and love.
In the digital arena, Fuel forges a new partnership with the University of Warwick to create a new sound installation where artists draw on academic research into women’s health in prisons, over the last 150 years. Each commission in the project, entitled Lock Her Up, will see an artist look at a specific issue around women’s incarceration, drawing on the work of academics from Warwick University. Commissioned artists include Rachel Mars, with a piece about women’s experience of solitary confinement, and Commonwealth, looking at women’s experience of maternity in prisons in the past and present day.
Reinforcing Fuel’s commitment to working across art forms, in the dance world Fuel successfully nominated Hemabharathy Palani to take up Rambert’s Leverhulme choreography fellowship in 2018. The scheme enables a professional dancer to make the transition into life as a full-time choreographer, spending time over the course of a year with the company and developing their choreographic practice. Fuel originally worked with Hema on Music to Move to in 2015.
Kate McGrath said: “Fuel has always championed the work of brilliant women theatre makers, and as a woman leading an arts organisation, I’m very proud of that. Our 2018 season will be no exception – and I’m particularly excited by the next generation of young women artists we’re working with like writer/performer Racheal Ofori, playwright Danielle Pearson and the evanescent Hemabharathy Palani. For me, the future of feminism is about these women – and it is about how men understand and reinvent themselves too – so I’m also really proud to be producing shows like Barber Shop Chronicles and Touching the Void which seek, in their different ways, to get under the skin of male identity and wellbeing, and question notions of masculinity.”
Looking later into the year, in autumn 2018 Fuel will co-produce the first adaptation of Joe Simpson’s internationally bestselling memoir Touching the Void, in an adaptation by Olivier Award winner David Greig. What happens to humans when they experience extreme pressure? How do we survive? Why do we deliberately put ourselves in danger and how do we find the strength of body and mind to get out of it? Touching the Void is Fuel’s latest attempt to stage the unstageable: the appalling dilemma of Simon Yates, perched on an unstable snow-cliff, battered by freezing winds and desperate to rescue the injured Joe Simpson, his climbing partner, hanging from a rope below him; and the death-defying journey Joe Simpson must make to reach safety. A co-production with Bristol Old Vic, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, and the Royal and Derngate, Northampton.
Fuel is also delighted to announce it has been awarded a Wellcome Trust Sustaining Excellence Award. Kate McGrath said: “We are deeply grateful to the Wellcome Trust for the opportunity to develop our work bringing together artists, scientists and audiences, so that we might collectively understand the world better together than we can in isolation. In our first year this grant will support researchers working on projects from Lock Her Up to Touching the Void, as well as seed funding new collaborations we hope will bear fruit in years to come.”