Two exciting new shows for the new year

Showtime from the Frontline

In 2018 Mark takes his recent attempt to set up a comedy club in a refugee camp in Palestine and turns it into a performance with two of the aspiring Palestinian comics, Fasial and Alaa. Showtime From The Frontline is the story of trying to be yourself in a place where everyone wants to put you in a box. It’s funny and surprising and it’s not like anything else you’ll see this year. Directed by Red Shed’s Joe Douglas, the tour starts in February.

Image © Lesley Martin 2017
Image © Lesley Martin 2017

With Faisal Abualheja and Alaa Shehada  | Directed by Joe Douglas

Dodging cultural and literal bullets, Israeli incursions and religion, Mark Thomas and his team set out to run a comedy club for two nights in the Palestinian city of Jenin. Only to find it’s not so simple to celebrate freedom of speech in a place with so little freedom.

Jenin refugee camp, home to Jenin Freedom Theatre and to people with a wealth of stories to tell. Mark tells this story alongside two of its actors and aspiring comics Faisal Abualheja and Alaa Shehada. A story about being yourself in a place that wants to put you in a box.

OurNHS@ 70

is an analysis – and celebration – of the NHS as it turns 70. Directed by Nick Kent, former artistic director at the Tricycle Theatre and director of Guantanamo and The Colour of Justice about the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, the show will premiere in Edinburgh in August. Beforehand, as part of the show, Mark is conducting a number of public interviews with key individuals. The first will be on 11th Dec at Battersea Arts Centre, London where Mark will be interviewing Sir Michael Marmot, author of Fair Society, Healthy Lives on health, wealth and why some people are doomed to live shorter lives. Tickets are £2.50.

 

New Badgers

Badgers?  Did I say Badgers?  I meant Badges, sorry.

Anyway we have some new ones (Badges, that is, it was too difficult to get the badgers into a jiffy bag and the RSPCA were staring at us).

In the store we have a couple of new ones that look a little like this:

 

The badges ( in the Daily mail masthead font) are another part of our Daily Mail assault, mimicking the ‘enemy of the people’ headline and the ‘Now finish off the saboteurs’ headline, we celebrate our opposition by reclaiming these glorious titles.

And anyway Badgers hate the Daily Mail as much as we do…

We have a new book

Mark’s new book is published soon – it’s an expanded collection of his play scripts with extra commentary published this week.  We will be getting stock in the next couple of days and be shipping them out at the end of the week.

About a tenner, £7.99 plus postage – Enjoy!

There is a battle of narratives. The working-class narrative is being erased. And as you erase that narrative, you erase truths with it.’

Funny, provocative and moving, The Liar’s Quartet includes the scripts with brand new commentary from Mark Thomas’ most acclaimed comic, political theatre. Layered with political insight (and insult), and peppered with anecdote, this is a bravura performance in its own right. Each multi-award winning show examines Thomas’ obsession with the bonds that bind us, those of family, friends and communities.

Beginning with Bravo Figaro!, Mark puts on an opera in his dying father’s living room (with the help of Royal Opera House singers) to explore their relationship. In Cuckooed, he unpicks the betrayal of a friend and a fellow activist who was in fact employed to spy for the UK’s biggest arms company, BAE systems. And in The Red Shed, Mark returns to his political roots to harness the power of collective memory and celebrate the importance of working-class struggles and narratives in a story he describes as ‘a topical tale about the miners’ strike’.

Laughter, anger and connection. Mark Thomas is more essential than ever . . .

New show for 2017

Predictable

Few predicted the events of the past year.

Mark sets out to find what the future has in store for us by asking the audience what their predictions for the future are, creating a fantastical, hilarious and sometimes accurate vision of the world.

This show is all about gambling on the future.

Based along the lines of his 2011 show ‘Manifesto’ Mark takes suggestions from the audience to create a snapshot of the future.

The early “work in progress” version of the show is already booked in at the usual venues through July 2017 and all are already on the gigs page here.

Spring tour dates and “The Red Shed” script

Mark Thomas outside The Red Shed in Wakefield
Photo by Tracey Moberly

Just in – new tour dates for spring 2017 including a week at Battersea Arts and dates around the UK including Scotland, Salford, Sheffield, Newcastle, Taunton and many more – the full listing are found on the gig list.  Plus we have stocks of the programme/script for Mark’s latest show, “The Red Shed” in Mark’s online store. In the store you will also find Domestic Extremist tea towels and aprons and now you can get a matching T-shirt from our friends at Philosophy Football.

Western Sahara

Of all the campaigns and issues I have been involved with over the years the Western Sahara Campaign has been one that has always dogged my activist heart, hanging around, sometimes slipping from memory but always popping back unheeded to prod away at me.

Western Sahara is one of the great forgotten causes of the world and for that fact alone it nips the heels of my conscience.

Western Sahara was occupied by Morocco from 1975 and for a short while became a cause celebre amongst the left but faded from favour as the struggle wore on to a stalemate.

There was a guerilla war to try to reclaim their land which was partially successful, Mauritania occupied the lower part of Western Sahara but were driven out – in part by Sahara fighters- only to be replaced by Morocco.

Between 1975-1976 some 250,000 Sahrawis fled to the Algerian desert where they have been living in exile for over 40 years in refugee camps, there remains approximately 165,000 refugees still there.

The more mathematical minded amongst you might well conclude that refugee camps should never be that old but they are.

A while ago I visited the camps, towns really in the middle of the desert, made of tents for the winter and mud brick huts for the summer. As is often the case it is the poor who are most hospitable and the care and kindness refugees showed to me was quite overwhelming.

So I am relieved to announce that this Monday’s show- Mayday- at the Tricycle is to be a benefit for the Western Sahara Campaign. The money will help the court case WSC are bringing, here are the details.

http://www.smalgangen.org/a146x1095

See you there.

Jess Thom and Backstage in Biscuit Land

Five years ago I meet a remarkable woman called Jess Thom. She got in touch saying she had Tourettes and would she be OK to come along to see my show Walking the Wall at the Tricycle Theatre. Instinctively and to be honest with little thought I said she would be welcome.

How wrong I was.

Jess does have pronounced tics and verbal outbursts, which are often funny, creative and beautifully absurd. However, some people in the audience objected to her ‘outbursts’ and complained to the theatre staff in the interval.

All of us were somewhat taken aback by this and Jess ended up in the lighting box, segregated from the rest of the audience for the second half. It was frankly awful. Here was I doing a show about separation and occupation and Jess was segregated from the rest of the community, shut away in a tech box.

Her response was as brilliant and inventive as her utterances. She wrote a show called Backstage in Biscuit Land, celebrating her condition and how people react to it. The show is imaginative, beautiful and different every time. I can not recommend it enough.

Backstage in Biscuit Land is on at the Battersea Arts Centre

19 – 23 Jul

It’s wonderful – don’t miss it!

Find out more about Jess and the show here: http://www.touretteshero.com

 

My response has been less creative and frankly less useful but I hope is valid nonetheless.

Where possible I try and organise relaxed performances of my shows. The relaxed performances encourage people to come to the show who may have learning difficulties,behavioural issues and syndromes such as Tourettes. There is a short speech at the start of the show to explain that the performance takes a relaxed attitude to noises, interruptions and fidgets, in fact we welcome it. Lighting plans and sound cues are changed to lessen any sudden or shocking change, there is an area set aside for people to leave the auditorium but stay inside the theatre and if they want to return they are welcome to do so.

There are many things we do to try and make the show accessible and welcoming for everyone.

I was delighted that Jess came along to my last show at the Tricycle theatre and the first half became a memorable and surreal double act with her. The show was one of my favourites of that year.

I am also delighted that Trespass returns to the Tricycle with a relaxed performance on the 4th of May.

There is a surtitled performance on the 27th April for those who are hard of hearing.