Call to Action: Performance

12 March 2012

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'Curtain Call' art installation at the Roundhouse, Camden, London. Photography by Dean Ayres.'Curtain Call' art installation at the Roundhouse, Camden, London. Photography by Dean Ayres.

In the last two weeks we’ve seen how creative projects can transform places and help bring their history and hidden stories to life. We’ve celebrated Music Nation projects that have been inspired by the locations where they performed on March 3rd & 4th, a free app that reveals the stories and secrets of east London, the marriage of art, geology and sound in the work of Jon Adams, and heritage sites transformed by sounds and artworks. This week’s blog posts will focus on Performance – connecting people, places and local stories through expressive art forms.

What better example of the performing arts giving a new lease of life to heritage buildings than the Roundhouse in Camden, north London. This Grade II* listed arts venue has hosted every imaginable type of performance since the 1960s, including music concerts, circus acts, and interactive art installations (such as David Byrne’s Playing the Building in 2009). However, its past functions could not be more different – a Victorian steam-engine repair shed and a gin warehouse. Its industrial heritage gives the building a unique character, one that is especially apparent when you see artists performing at this venue.

David Byrne’s ‘Playing the Building’ at the Roundhouse, Camden, London. Photography by Chris Guy.

One of the most memorable performances I have seen at the Roundhouse was the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Anthony and Cleopatra – where ancient history met theatre-in-the-round and pyrotechnics! The space was completely transformed by the performance and it was only when I stepped outside after the play and came face to face with the Roundhouse’s exposed brick walls that I realised I had been watching Shakespeare in an old railway shed/ warehouse for the past few hours. Performances can transport you to a different place, but places can also transform your experience of the performance.

If you’ve recently been moved by a performance at a heritage site or a place of natural beauty, then tell us about it here on the blog, on Facebook or Twitter (@DiscoverDP).

Here’s to a week of discovery!

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