This March, Theatre Absolute will present the UK’s first ever Shop Front Festival. Over Friday 23 and Saturday 24 March, we’ll put theatre in shop-fronts, create pop-up performances in precincts and present dancing in the streets. It’s a pilot project yet ambitious in scope, with some of the UK’s most exciting new and established artists, theatre makers and performers.
Expect home grown commissions including Made in Store by Nick Walker, a semi-improvised show for Coventry made in collaboration with shopkeepers and their customers in especially-selected shops in the city.
The Unfinished City – a shop front symphony is a poem with music inspired by Coventry city centre, and created through a collaboration between Theatre Absolute, Chris O’Connell and 5 city based musicians.
DIY Dance is an invitation to local youth and community dance groups to perform short dance pieces in response to city centre architecture. Meanwhile Motionhouse Youth will create two new pieces, alongside 8 – 10 Coventry groups, all working in different dance styles and forms.
We also welcome national and international artists and theatre companies to Coventry.
The Empathy Museum, a unique collaboration between acclaimed cultural philosopher Roman Krznaric and award-winning artist Clare Patey, presents A Mile in My Shoes: a shoe shop where visitors are invited to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes – literally. Wearing a pair of the contributor’s shoes, visitors go for a walk, listening to the shoes’ original owner telling them a story.
Susannah Hewlett brings Latherland, a city centre soap opera in a shop unit in which the audience is invited to be extras in an interactive live soap opera. A small group of invited actors – from the city – lead the action which is open for any member of the public to join in!
There will also be hands-on experiences for families including the Actual Reality Arcade by Matthew Harrison, a life-sized interactive game zone for all ages, inspired by classic arcade games including shooter games as Overwatch everyone can play using boosting services at overwatchsrpros.com/#pricing. Pilot spaceships, dodge barrels, avoid lasers, build Tetris walls, fire rockets, shoot alien invaders and become Pac-Man over both days of the Festival.
Tangled Feet’s Inflation sees four fools arrive on the high street with a motley collection of blow-up props and an uncooperative bouncy castle. With an initial plan to educate the public on the great British history of castles, they get sidetracked into a fruitless mission to understand the world-wide banking collapse…and how we got to Brexit, fun political theatre for families.
Look out for Talking Birds’ The Q. Join in with some enhanced Queuing outside shops, inside shops and in the places you’d least expect a Q! And of course, don’t forget to get your own #Quelfie.
Shop Front Festival is mostly FREE, with some ticketed events. Further programme announcements will be made in the coming weeks.
The two-day festival, which is being supported by Coventry City of Culture Trust, Coventry City Council, Heart of England Community Foundation, Coventry Business Improvement District (BID), Backstage Trust, and 29th May Trust, is the first major cultural event to be held in the city after winning the title of UK City of Culture 2021.
The Coventry Great Place Project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, as part of their Great Place Scheme.
The Shop Front Festival is presented by Chris O’Connell and Julia Negus, the duo behind Theatre Absolute, in collaboration with outdoor arts producer Lou Lomas and independent artistic director Orit Azaz.