Between 10 – 19 March award-winning playwright Inua Ellams hosts 05Fest, his own brand of poetry and spoken word in collaboration with We Are Lewisham and the Mayor’s London Borough of Culture 2022.
The 05Fest programme is based in the Albany, South-East London’s leading cultural hub based in the heart of Deptford. 05Fest, named after Ellams ‘mild obsession’ with the number five, saw the world premiere of his newest play, a rehearsed reading of A Block of Flats. The futuristic exploration of climate change, kindness and empathy is set on one night in London. The universal forces of Chaos and Order chose five inhabitants from a block of flats, to decide the fate of humanity. The play was directed by Bush Theatre’s Artistic Director Lynette Linton.
Speaking about the festival, Ellams said: “I’m ecstatic and lucky that this inaugural 05Fest is happening in my own neighbourhood. I’ve worked with the Albany for over 10 years, and I hope the community in Deptford and across Lewisham come out to celebrate and explore themselves and local creativity at these five events next month.”
On his new play, which was redrafted twice during the pandemic lockdowns, Ellams added: “I wrote A Block of Flats to try and understand folks who lived where I once did, in a block of flats in Brixton. I interviewed them, but the story could be set in any major city anywhere in the world, where the forces of class, capitalism, migration, gentrification and ageism work their ways into our lives, into our very bodies, and cloud us from really seeing each other. All this is framed by climate change, which poses the biggest threat to our way of life. It is a lyrical poetic study of characters with intersection stories, and there’s a huge sci-fi twist I hope audiences will appreciate.”
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The 05Fest programme unites the separate strands of Ellams work over the past 15 years. The programme of events includes poetry recitals, a film screening and a creative writing session taking place in real time in the twittersphere.
Closing the festival is R.A.P (Rhythm And Poetry) Party on 19 March, which features an all-star cast of poets residing and reverently repping South London through a nostalgic night of hip-hop inspired poems and favourite hip-hop songs.
The who’s who of poets taking part alongside Inua Ellams include: Ledbury Poetry critic member Hasti Crowther, visual artist, poet and filmmaker Julian Knxx; feminist arts night She Growls’ founder Carmilla Masoliver; Southbank’s New Poets Collective member Jess Murrain; Barbican Young Poet alumna Laurie Ogden; Gboyega Odubanjo editor of new poetry publication bath magg; Jolade Olusanya, London’s first ever Young Poet Laureate; Rhondda Rhiannon who has performed at Hayward Gallery, Sofar Sounds and the Royal Festival Hall; and Faber Poetry Podcast co-curator Jack Underwood.
It’s a (W)R.A.P party: A night of poetry and celebration of Three Sisters
View the 05Fest Festival Programme in more detail
A BLOCK OF FLATS
BY INUA ELLAMS
DIRECTED BY LYNETTE LINTON
10 MARCH, 7.30pm, £10
Set on one night in London, the universal forces of Chaos and Order chose five inhabitants from a block of flats, to decide the fate of humanity.
A Block of Flats is an emotive, imaginative exploration of climate change, kindness and empathy in present day London, where Inua employs his typical poetic, mellifluous, beautiful use of language in asking the most pressing questions of our times in the world premiere of this rehearsed reading of his newest play.
SEARCH PARTY WITH INUA ELLAMS
11 March, 7.30pm, £10, £8
Pull up to Inua’s chaotic audience-led poetry show. Pick a word, any word. Prompted by audience suggestions the poet and performer will search through his extensive archive of work and perform a reactive and spontaneous selection. Each show is unique and special.
POETRY FILM HACK – BABYLON:
12 March, 7pm, £10, £8
Poetry Film Hack presents both artforms in collaboration, by adding live poetry readings to the viewing experience of magnificent films. Inua chooses movies that are socially, politically or culturally resonant and includes poetry in their presentation to expand, deepen or highlight their themes. For the inaugural 05Fest, cult 1980s film Babylon will be screened. Set in Deptford 40 years ago this portrait of the Sound System subculture, was a rallying cry during Thatcher’s Britain. Once banned, accused of inciting violence, Babylon is now seen as one of the finest films of its genre.
TWITTER POETRY WORKSHOP
18 March, – 2pm/Free @twitterpoetry
Twitter Poetry Workshop deconstructs the steps of writing a poem in a mass-participatory creative writing exercise that happens in real time, on twitter. Over the course of an hour, clear and precise writing prompts will be shared together to culminate in a finished poem. These will be collated and digitally published so participants might read and enjoy their structurally similar, yet vastly different work. Invitation to anyone anywhere in the world.
R.A.P PARTY (Rhythm And Poetry)
19 March, 7.30pm £5
What might eloquent voices from contemporary poetry and spoken word movements have to say about hip-hop’s past, present and future? Chill and find out at this Rhythm And Poetry Party, a nostalgic, no-clutter, no-fuss, night of hip-hop-inspired poems and favourite hip-hop songs. The format is super simple, 10 poets share a poem that engages any aspect of hip-hop culture and Lewisham. After each poet, the DJ will play two hip hop songs of the poet’s choosing, linking to the poem.
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05Fest festival details
Venue: The Albany, Douglas Way, London SE8 4AG
For more information: https://www.thealbany.org.uk/shows-and-events/
Box Office: Tel: 020 8692 4446