New project celebrates decade of Coventry’s Shop Front Theatre

Published: 12 October 2019
Reporter: Steve Orme

Eight new commissions have been announced by Coventry’s Theatre Absolute in a three-year project which includes Coventry City of Culture in 2021.

Humanistan is a series taking inspiration from the musings on nation and society of writers Benjamin Zephaniah, Francois Matarasso and Ben Okri. It will discuss topics from climate change to democracy.

The first show in Humanistan will be on Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 November by multi-disciplinary artist and creative producer Amahra Spence who is developing a piece that plays with the idea of absurdity in everyday life.

Future commissions include a collaboration with three international breakdancers, a one-on-one performance from Sharron Devine and a piece written by project artistic director Chris O’Connell.

O’Connell said, “we’re really interested in the dynamics of local and large-scale activism. Where can we currently look to see this activism? Coventry’s Shop Front Theatre is a micro example of activism—taking control of the means of making art, pushing hierarchy to one side, building a broad base of representation and voices that over 10 years have allowed it to evolve and become so many things to so many people. Humanistan is a harnessing of that energy.”

Peter Knott, area director for Arts Council England, added, “as Coventry 2021 approaches, we’re pleased to continue our support for the city with this National Lottery investment in Theatre Absolute’s Humanistan which promises to ask important questions, bring communities together and create great opportunities for local people and visitors to experience ground-breaking work.”

Humanistan will take place in Theatre Absolute’s Shop Front Theatre, housed in a former fish-and-chip restaurant in Coventry’s City Arcade, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary.