Gulbenkian Arts Centre present bold new work in 2023-24

Gulbenkian Arts Centre present bold new work in 2023-24

Artistic Director David Sefton has announced the 2023-24 programme for the Gulbenkian Arts Centre in Canterbury.

The programme builds upon the Art Centre’s growing reputation since the arrival of Sefton in 2021, and brings to Kent a range of bold new work from world-class international artists working in live theatre, dance and music. At the heart of the programme is an impressive roster of Associate Artists that David Sefton has been developing over the past two years.

Renowned Kent-based theatre company 1927will present the UK premiere of Please Right Back – part social realism, part science fiction with a healthy dose of the company’s classic dystopian mischief.

Also presenting new work as a premier is choreographer superstar behind House of Absolute and Cabaret in the West End Julia Cheng, who is developing a new piece for unveiling at Gulbenkian in June 2024.

For the first time members of the legendary Castellucci family are being brought together by a venue as Gulbenkian’s first international Associate Artists. Under the umbrella of Societas(formerly Societas Raffaello Sanzio) they will present a unique series of presentations over the coming seasons.

The first of these, the classic children’s show, Buchettino is rarely seen in the UK and takes place in this summer’s free family bOing! international Family Festival (26-27 Aug). This is quickly followed in September, by contemporary dance company Dewey Dell founded by Castellucci siblings Teodora, Demetrio, and Agata, whose work Le Sacre du Primtemps will have its UK premiere.

Over the course of the season, internationally beloved musician and polymath Matthew Herbert will bring together a number of high-profile collaborators including visionary instrument builder Evan Parker, actress Ria Zmitrowicz (The Power), Kirsty Housely (co-director Complicité’s The Encounter) and author Max Porter. Over the course of 3 events, Matthew will be looking at instrument design, creating a new audio play from scratch, and printing and performing a new book.

Other Associate Artists include Improbable, whose Improbaband will mark the start of a new creative relationship with Gulbenkian and the incomparable BAC Beatbox Academywho, having showcased their smash hit Frankenstein last season, are back with a new alternative Christmas show, Pied Piper.

In all with the three new events from Matthew Herbert, the Gulbenkian Arts Centre 2023-4 season includes 6 UK premieres.

Elsewhere in the year, some of the best work from around the UK comes to the Arts Centre on tour, including Mark Thomas in England & Son, John Hegley and Friends, Shon Dale Jones’ Cracking, John-Paul Zaccarini’s The MixRace MixTape and work for audiences with profound and multiple learning difficulties from Frozen Light and work to be embraced via your phone from Paper Birds.

The live music programme is indicative of the kind of musical diversity that David Sefton is renowned for, having formed Meltdown Festival at Southbank Centre in 1981. Performances range from rave and prog extra-terrestrials Henge, Jeremy Deller’s Acid Brass to Dr Feelgood and ‘Wild’ Billy Childish, and from Soft Machine to Brodsky Quartet, Ashley Wass and Nouvelle Vague.

In April 2024, Gulbenkian will present Gavin Bryars’ seminal minimalist orchestral work Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet live at Canterbury Cathedral.

The programme also includes first-rate family performances from Tom Fletcher, Make Mend and Do and trickyart, a comedy line-up with artists including Bridget Christie, Jordan Gray and Reginald D Hunter and long-time partners Folk in The Barn hosting some of the UK’s best loved Folk and Roots Artists. 

David Sefton, Artistic Director said: “As we launch our third season as the Arts Centre, its a huge pleasure to be able to bring together such a fabulous and diverse range of artists and their work. I’m proud of the fact that Henge, Gavin Bryars and Soft Machine are on the same bill as 1927, Improbable and Societas – and equally delighted that our audiences will experience the very best that theatre, dance and music have to offer and be the first to see new works by such extraordinary artists.”

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