Welcome to Shop Front Festival!

The Festival is created in the spirit of Theatre Absolute’s founding space, the Shop Front Theatre, in Coventry city centre, in which the company works only with what it has, and wishes for nothing more. An empty disused shop has become a beacon for new creativity, and we’re excited to explore and expand these ideas. 

Artworks in empty shops

From 10am on Friday 23 to 5pm on Saturday 24 March, you’ll find immersive and interactive artworks in empty shop spaces. Ninety-five percent of these are free and suitable for people of all ages including children and families.

They include: Latherland a live improvised soap opera where you can choose to watch or star; A Mile in My Shoes, see the world through someone else’s story and Hands Full, add your words and pictures to a growing paper sculpture.

Theatre on the streets

In the spaces in between, you can watch a brand new post Brexit version of Tangled Feet’s renowned Inflation, performed on a bouncy castle or Nina Von Der Werth’s Dreaming performed on a double bed; play games with your friends in an Actual Reality Arcade; have a ten minute clubbing experience of your choice at Club Shed; and join The Q for a new world record attempt.

Join in

In unusual spaces and unexpected places around the city centre, local theatre makers and artists, working with shopkeepers in especially selected shops and businesses, invite you to help them develop new ideas for projects and performances, including Made in Store, where you can follow a trail to shop for your own story.

Works in Progress

On Saturday daytime, theatre makers share their work in progress – an opportunity to see emerging artists grapple with how to create performances for Shop Front spaces – these include local breakdance crew Moving Spaces, emerging physical theatre company Strictly Arts, experimental Firehouse Creative Productions and Miss Ellie’s of Coventry Edible Irish Stories.

Pop-up performances

Meanwhile, Coventry dance and physical theatre groups, together with Motionhouse Youth, take over the streets in a series of pop up performances celebrating Coventry’s distinctive architecture in DIY Dance and, at the Central Library, 8 – 11 year old children become experts in a special Coventry edition of Ant Hampton’s internationally acclaimed performance installation, Crazy but True. Watch out for bursting circus roadworks in The Small Job on your way.

Late Night Shopper

On Friday evening, Shop Front Theatre will play host to a compelling Late Night Shopper double bill – I’d Be Lost Without It by immersive theatre specialists Wet Picnic followed by hard-hitting Confirmation by Festival hero, writer performer Chris Thorpe. Stick around afterwards for some informal Shop Talk and a relaxed reggae vibe.

And on Saturday evening, a Late Night Shopper to remember – get your 10 minutes of Club Shed in early  then enjoy a drink, some food and an evening of fabulous physical feats at The Yard – fire eating, circus and some sharp breakdance moves by Moving Spaces. At Shop Front Theatre, a strictly limited number of tickets are available for Das Fest, a new mindreading experience from Austrian illusionist and performer Philipp Oberlohr, followed by a special Shop Front version of Cupid’s Revenge, by the masters of stand up comedy dance theatre New Art Club, (previously seen in Coventry in their Campervan of Love). For those chilling at The Yard, follow the leaders to City Arcade for Theatre Absolute’s The Unfinished City – A COVENTRY symphony. This is a new piece of outdoor gig theatre created through a collaboration between Theatre Absolute, Chris O’Connell and some of the best musicians in the city.

Thrilled by whatever you chose to pick’n’mix over the two days, please join us outside the Shop Front Theatre, for the end of the first Shop Front Festival and the beginning of what we hope will be an epic and exciting journey of celebration towards Coventry 2021.

We look forward to seeing you!

Orit, Julia, Chris and Lou
Shop Front Festival Artistic Team