Off Beat Festival

I recently had the pleasure of working with six supported artists at Oxfords Off Beat Festival, a two week extravaganza of brand-new theatre, comedy, dance, family shows, spoken word and music. The supported artists were given tailored support in dramaturgy, marketing, travel, accommodation and technical theatre, as well as three performances at the festival to develop audiences and work on their show.

The shows took place across three venues in Oxford; The Old Fire Station, The Burton Taylor Studio and the Playhouse Theatre. It was my job to photograph the performances and the artists, and it was a LOT of fun. Here they all are, in chronological order:

Surge, by Channie B

Channie B is a performance artist who specialises in photography, videography and the research of race politic and stereotyping within modern day society. Her work aims to tackle labelling and tries to trigger a need for change of society in the minds of audiences.

Surge is all about stereotypes. It is about prejudice and discrimination. It is about how you see others and judge them on race, class, religion and sexuality. It is a show that hopes to challenge your perceptions, stripping you of what you think is true and reminding you of the potential you have to change your ideas.

Raw Transport, by Electrick Village

Electrick Village create immersive virtual reality (VR) experiences that blend the use of 360 degree video with live, sensory-stimulating elements. They strive to question and explore the effects of technology on the world and defy the limitations of modern reality.

As soon as you place the VR headset on, you enter the heart of the story where YOU are the key that unlocks the surrounding virtual world. We create intimate VR experiences that have compelling, challenging themes that are enhanced by the incorporation of stimuli for all five senses.

Run Stanley Run, by Rowan Padmore

Rowan Padmore is a local playwright, poet and performer. Originally from Lancashire, she came to Oxford to study Writing for Performance at Ruskin College. Rowan was the writer of Sawdust for Hidden Spire 2017, a project working with Crisis members and theatre professionals at the Old Fire Station.

Run Stanley Run is a new poetic play written and performed by Rowan Padmore, about bereavement, loss and loneliness a northern seaside town.

A Moment, by Thomas Page Dances

Thomas Page Dances is a contemporary dance company presenting the work of artistic director, Thomas Page. The company’s work is rooted in socio-political ideas, creating dialogues with their audiences and collaborators through the universality of the physical language. The company works with a collective of contemporary dance artists and collaborators to create new projects.

Responding to Bren Gosling’s ‘Moment of Grace’  two performers explore what it was to be gay in the 80s when the UK was full of fear and ignorance. An intimate duet moving through themes of paranoia, intimacy and oppression. The work also gives thanks to those who made it possible to say “HIV is no longer a death sentence.”

Sounds Cistem, by Plaster Cast

Plaster Cast are an emerging theatre company specialising in LGBTQ+ work: This performance was starred two transgender performers that say f*ck you to the binary, and invite you to their radically queer dance party!

Set in nightclubs, Sound Cistem is an exuberant dance show about the cisgender gaze on the transgender body. Through riotous, glittering disco, shame is rejected and a self-love manifesto made. Unafraid to punch hard, Sound Cistem asks you to see the beauty in these bodies: and your own too.

British Vogue, Ashanti Wheeler

Ashanti is an actor, writer and poet. As a poet she has been published in several journals and publications and featured in several events including at Oxford’s very own Pitt Rivers Museum and on the poetry stage at Oxfordshire’s Beaconsfield festival. She performs and writes as Poetry that Unpicks.

Life is terrifying for nearly 25-year-old Ashanti. She has no idea what she’s doing. Unemployed, trapped in her childhood bedroom on a permanent Netflix binge, and attempting to avoid the inevitable “when are you getting a job”? Until a chance arrival encourages her to try and subvert the quarter life crisis and finally find a socially-acceptable answer to “but where are you really from?”…after just one more episode.

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