TakeOver Festival returns to York Theatre Royal in March

It’s back! From this March, York Theatre Royal is set to be invaded once again by a unique festival of theatre as TakeOver 2013 takes off. A daring project first established in 2009 as part of the Art’s Council’s A Night Less Ordinary initiative, York Theatre Royal’s TakeOver Festival has continued to thrive against the arts cuts, each year offering a group of aspiring young professionals  the rare opportunity to take the helm of an entire theatre for three weeks. Closely mentored by their respective staff equivalent, the TakeOver team, all aged 11-25 years old, envision, create and then run their very own theatre festival, designed to entice in new audiences of their own age group. 

Generously supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, TakeOver Festival has, since its inception, already seen over 200 young people cultivate their creative juices and open up their experiences and ideas as well as offering hundreds of free theatre tickets to young audiences. And now the next TakeOver team are ready and set to present this year’s festival, running across three separate weeks in March, June and October to offer up a festival that’s bigger and better than ever before, crammed with a diverse programme from absurdist theatre to dance,  comedy to cabaret.

THE ODYSSEY (19-20th March) takes a trip into the ancient journey of Homer’s Odysseus, bringing this fantastical tale of selfish goddesses, vengeful gods, monsters, sirens and subterfuge, echoing through the narrative memory once more. 

HOW A MAN CRUMBLED (19th March) From the epic to the absurdist, mythical journeys to killer cucumbers, TakeOver Festival’s opening night in the Studio offers a decidedly different theatrical offering. Granting guaranteed pandemonium, Clout Theatre introduces York to the weird and wonderful world of surrealist Russian poet and false moustache icon, Daniil Kharms. Blending expressionist silent film with slapstick, there’s even a free cuppa in it for the best false moustache in the audience, so get twirling those whiskers!

Champloo showcase their last ever performance of WHITE CAPS (21st March) here in York Theatre Royal’s Main House. Fusing together explosive breakdance and lyrical film alongside a specially-commissioned score, Champloo tracks the toils and transformations of two men on an epic journey of personal adventure, mixing up unusual and astonishing combinations of dance and storytelling along the way.

Low-fi contemporary theatre-makers Milk Presents are taking over the Studio for two consecutive nights with their riotous cabaret show SELF-SERVICE (20th-21st March). Primarily concerned with sexuality and gender, scouring to answer that elusive question of what it means to be “normal”, expect wacky costumes, live animation, original music and a full airing of their most barmy homemade gadgets.

Doug Segal, the mind magician, dubbed by TimeOut Magazine as the “UK’s best kept entertainment secret,  is bringing to the people of York his award-winning, sell-out show, HOW TO READ MINDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE (22nd March). No dabbler in the psychic or occult, Doug presents psychological entertainment with a difference, demonstrating the hard science of the brain all in the name of comedy. 

A treat for the tiniest of theatregoers, the enchanting DOGS DON’T DO BALLET (22nd March) is the first tot-friendly performance of TakeOver. Based on the original story by Anna Kemp, with beautiful puppets modelled on Sara Ogilvie’s charming illustrations, this story of Biff, the small dog with a big personality and even bigger ballerina-sized dreams, is brought to life by Little Angel Theatre with classic ballet music and captivating comedy. With a special early-morning performance for the under 2’s, the afternoon’s shows will introduce in arts, crafts, and a splattering of face paint, to ensure there’s no fun missed for kids or parents alike. 

From ballet to rap battles, former English teacher Mark Grist drops into the Studio, ready and set to deliver a lesson far less from the ordinary. Made an Internet sensation after a video of his downright defeat over a teenage grime artist in a rap battle went viral on Youtube, Mark has since quit the teaching to embark on his sell out show, ROGUE TEACHER (22nd March). Sharing comic anecdotes, poetry and his inimitable beats, Mark reveals to York the real man behind the unlikely rapper.

Given the recent fascination with the figure of the psychopath in contemporary pop psychology, it’s no surprise that the hype has permeated its way into the festival programme as THE THING ABOUT PSYCHOPATHS (23rd March) by BBC Writer’s Academy’s Ben Tagoe heads to York. An up-to-the-minute account of British modernity, Tagoe’s daring drama delves into the uncomfortable parallels between prison and the corporate world and the ruthless lack of empathy filtering through an on-the-edge life from the prison cell to the business board room. 

Not content to just give away free theatre tickets, TakeOver Festival 2013 is also breaking all the record books in the Festival’s history as TakeOver’s Artistic Director, Ruby Clarke, pushes out the boundaries of the festival, leading theatre out of its familiar territory and into new unexpected performance spaces. Aimed at opening up TakeOver’s accessibility, the festival will this year make a leap out of York Theatre Royal, starting with a special production of QUICKSAND (20th-23rd March) in York’s contemporary art hub, Bar Lane Studios. Written by the University of York’s Matthew Midgley and directed by Ruby, Quicksand tells the tale of two soldiers stranded in the Kuwaiti desert, awaiting the order to invade Iraq. Premiered on the 10th anniversary of the war, this comedic yet poignant story, produced by Tempting Fate Theatre Company, juxtaposes fictional drama with verbatim material from the time to paint a comic, compassionate portrait of life on the front line, and ask what happened to democracy in 2003 as war broke out.  

Tucked away in the shadows of York Minster, the Grade 1 listed St Williams’ College is probably not the first place you’d look for your theatrical shenanigans, but on Saturday 23rd March, this charming medieval college will be buzzing with theatrical and musical creativity as local and regional artists perform for TakeOver Festival’s IMAGINARIUM. With surprising vignettes lurking round every corner, the audience are free to wander and watch as they please, sampling the bizarre and beautiful from room to room before a grand and live musical finale.

Ending the first week of the festival on a real high, TakeOver Festival teams up with the York Literature Festival to invite you to a very special afternoon with CAROL ANN DUFFY (24th March). The first ever female Poet Laureate, Duffy first came to York as part of the 2008 Literature Festival, and in 2013, York Theatre Royal is delighted to welcome her back, accompanied by LiTTLe MACHiNe, whose distinct lyrical style reinvents the classic poetry of the likes of John Donne, Percy Shelley and William Carlos Williams.

And the literary spirit continues well into the evening as performance poet, Henry Raby, singer-songwriter Johnny Gill and stand-up Ben Winterton take to the Studio with their myriad musings on the flights, fancies and falls of that all-encompassing and overwhelming ONE LOVE (24th March), taking the first week of TakeOver Festival 2013 into its sensational poetic finale.  

TakeOver Festival Listings

THE ODYSSEY: Tues 19-Wed 20 - Main House
HOW A MAN CRUMBLED: Tues 19 - The Studio
SELF-SERVICE: Wed 20-Thu 21 - The Studio
QUICKSAND: Wed 20-23 - Bar Lane Studios
WHITE CAPS: Thu 21 - Main House
DOGS DON’T DO BALLET: Fri 22 - The Studio
ROGUE TEACHER: Fri 22 - The Studio
COMEDY NIGHTS: Sat 23 - Main House
IMAGINARIUM: Sat 23 - St Williams’ College
ONE LOVE: Sun 24 - The Studio