Last week, two safe houses in Peckham became host to Basic Space, a brand new theatre festival. Committed to site-sensitive theatre and community values, this young company impressed in its first (of hopefully many) festivals. It’s hard to mount a new show let alone a new festival in London. But Basic Space have succeeded, making their mark not only as a festival but one exploring the relatively new genre of site-sensitive theatre. And with a strong communal ethos behind them: ‘creating something which would give these companies an opportunity‘.
As the name suggests, the space chosen for Basic Space was very important for Artistic Director, Mark Rolland. And not just that it was 10 minutes from his house! Peckham certainly fitted the bill with two stripped down houses providing the backdrop for six pieces of theatre, all of which reacted to and were inspired by the space. This is what is at the heart of site-sensitive theatre. These empty houses were then transformed, either physically or in the mind of the audiences, bringing new life to them. I could easily see this becoming a yearly fixture in Peckham, although part of me would love to see Basic Space expand either across London or the UK.
I saw two of the end results: Curtain’d Sleep, and The Contemptible Case of Charles Peace. Both impressed me immensely in the way they interpreted the space and their ideas. Kudos to Basic Space as well for getting a variety of companies with different visions and executions of the space, from murder mystery to opera, zombies to Shakespeare!
It also ran remarkably smoothly! Meeting in a near by bar, audiences are ushered across to the safe houses, with the story even starting on this journey across. Thanks to all the volunteers as well for ensuring a smooth running, particularly given the rather wet conditions.
Verdict: Basic Space take confident strides in their first of hopefully many ventures. A revelation for traditional audiences and revolution for site-sensitive theatre.