Harlow-based dance theatre company set to perform in China

Entertainment / Thu 28th Sep 2023 at 07:08am

A DANCE-theatre company based at Harlow Playhouse has been invited to perform at the prestigious Wuzhen Theatre Festival in China. 

Rhiannon Faith Company, based at Harlow Playhouse, will take their gritty show DROWNTOWN (seen in Harlow and on tour last year) to the October event. This is the first time a British dance company have been invited to the annual festival.

Wuzhen Theatre Festival is an annual theatre event in the ancient water town of Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province, China. Though only in its tenth year, it is already considered to be one of the premier festivals in China and Asia, inviting a selection of the world’s great theatre groups to appear alongside the best Chinese language companies and performers. 

‘As a kid from a big family, the UK and Ireland were our travel destinations’ said Artistic Director, choreographer and theatre maker Rhiannon Faith, ‘my first plane ride wasn’t until I was 20. It was always a dream to create work that might one day travel and I always held onto the idea that maybe that’s how I would get to see the world. ‘I am so grateful for this opportunity to meet new international audiences and to see parts of the world I never thought I would’

Rory Davies, Artistic and Executive Director of Harlow Playhouse added ‘We are thrilled for Rhiannon Faith Company, as the first National Portfolio Organisation in Harlow, now embarking on its first international tour. We are really proud that DROWNTOWN, a show co-produced by Harlow Playhouse and developed here in Harlow will now be wowing audiences in China

Dark, uncompromising, and moving yet, accessible, tender and physically stunning, DROWNTOWN continues the vein of gritty dance-theatre from this radical choreographer. Bold and brave, at times bleak (in keeping with its subject matter), the show uses autobiographical testimonials and text to give voice to the vulnerable and unheard in modern Britain’s areas of social deprivation. With tenderness and honesty, the show holds up a mirror to a society at tipping point. DROWNTOWN is here to try to help save our world from drowning.

Rhiannon created the show following extensive research into areas of social deprivation. ‘I spent research residencies in coastal towns including Jaywick, Clacton-on-Sea and Great Yarmouth, all places with a strong sense of community and identity but also some of the highest levels of social and economic deprivation in the UK. Happy destinations for holiday goers that become full of darkness and degradation when left behind’ she added.

DROWNTOWN is co-produced by Harlow Playhouse. Commissioned by Cambridge Junction with commissioning support from DanceEast. Supported by Brighton Dome and Festival Ltd, South East Dance and using public funding by Arts Council England.

In November Rhiannon Faith Company will be presenting the world premiere performances of their new show Lay Down Your Burdens at London’s Barbican before touring it in 2024.

Rhiannon Faith Company makes radically tender dance theatre, working nationally on big stages and locally with communities on the margins, always with social change and care at its heart. Based in Harlow, Essex, with nation-wide impact, they are making bold, ambitious moves to secure a future as global leaders in original dance theatre with a social purpose, to champion community transformation and authentic belonging for all. 

The company has been nominated for five National Dance Awards; ‘Best Independent Company’ 2021, 2022, 2023, ‘Best Digital Choreography’ 2021 (DROWNTOWN LOCKDOWN), ‘Best Dance Film’ 2022 (DROWNTOWN live film). In addition Rhiannon Faith was nominated for an AWA Women In Dance Leadership Award 2022. The company is Associate Artist at Harlow Playhouse, and an Arts Council England NPO.

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