The Great Gatsby - Wardrobe Ensemble & Wardrobe Theatre (credit Jack Offord)

The Alchymy Festival – the exciting platform for the stars of tomorrow hosted annually by The North Wall – is still going ahead in May with an exciting programme of live and online work.

This year’s festival will include newly-commissioned work by innovative and up-and-coming companies such as The PappyShow, Ad Infinitum, The Wardrobe Theatre and Poltergeist.

“The notion is about hope. We want to show that although it has been a devastating year we are returning with something really positive and forward looking,” John Hoggarth, North Wall co-director said, “as well as continuing our ongoing commitment to these emerging artists.”

The chosen few will be exploring a diverse range of stories about everything from masculinity and chat bots to care of the elderly, explored through dance, theatre, podcasts, audio drama and talks.

“their brief was to create something you might not see in a theatre”

Theatre greats such as Emma Rice from Wise Children Theatre (See our piece on her last show Malory Towers here https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/malory-towers-comes-to-oxford-playhouse-with-a-modern-day-twist/) will be in a timely conversation with Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds MP for Oxford East about the future of theatre after the pandemic.

Other Live Panel Discussions involve directors Matthew Xia (Actors Touring Company) and journalist Lyn Gardner, tackling class and opportunity.

Theatre director Emma Rice. photographed at her office in Bristol.

Some inspiring newly commissioned pieces such as Boy Fly, The Last Two and Exodus will showcase the young playwrights being nurtured by The North Wall.

“Alchemy allows these stories to be told”

“The brief was to create something you might not see in a theatre, pieces that would survive and thrive in other environments, ways of coming out with a positive, to give us all a new sense of purpose,” John adds.

North Wall co-director John Hoggarth

“But more than that it’s really important that we nurture upcoming talent in the current climate, because otherwise it will just disappear,” he points out.

Nomadic Souls is a prime example, written by ArtsLab writer Marika McKennell, whose last show E8 went down a storm at Edinburgh, or PappyShow‘s new dance about masculinity. Poltergeist has created an interactive game questionnaire, Wardrobe Ensemble and Creative Associate Tom Brennan is envisaging a version of The Great Gatsby, and Ad Infinitum is basing it’s piece on age concerns.

The Last Two

“It’s amazing what people have come up with,” John agrees. “Rather than go to Edinburgh Fringe to find new and dynamic work, you’ll find it’s already here. Alchymy allows these stories to be told.

Further audio drama, created by participants of this year’s Catalyst writers residency, will also premiere; alongside four micro-commissions from artists in The North Wall’s ArtsLab network, and podcasts with writer Karim Khan, Euton Daley MBE and producer Ellie Keel.

Spore Score – Image by Kalineri

Launched in 2017 as a weekend-long platform for early-career theatre-makers to share new work created for the stage, Alchymy Festival features many of the writers, directors and actors involved in The North Wall’s renowned ArtsLab programme, which offers opportunities to nurture talent through residencies, training and mentorship.

Boy Fly by PappyShow

The full programme will be available to watch and stream from 3rd – 31st May.

All events at this year’s Alchymy Festival will be offered on a free or Pay-What-You-Feel basis. The full festival programme can be found at: https://www.thenorthwall.com/alchymy-festival/