Starring chart-topping Union J’s Jaymi Hensley – the Queenz are heading to Edinburgh LIVE.
For the night out we’ve all been missing – Queenz are ready to, (like a prayer,) take you there. Five vocal powerhouses armed with songs, sass and plenty to say. This unapologetic, dance party night out with five incredible vocalists in their realest drag is landing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to bring some much-needed pride and joy.
From backstreet bars to West End stars, the Queenz cast represents a mix of undeniable artists who have been waiting their whole lives for this moment in the spotlight. The cast comprises pop star turned drag star Jaymi Hensley (UK Chart top ten selling member of Union J) as Mis Dia Montay the White Queen; Grant Jackson, who recently went viral on TikTok with a Celine Dion vocal some accused him of lip syncing – it was entirely his vocal – joins the band as Gold Queen; Louis Wallond as the Rock Queen aka Billie Eyelash; Lew Ray as the Blue Queen – Mr Van Cartier; and last but not least Josh Hanson takes to the stage for their first leading professional role as Pink Queen – Candy Caned. Welcome to the circus Josh!
The Queenz cast represent a mixed background of experience, all professional singers and dancers at various stages of their career – in and out of drag – including Jaymi, fulfilling a life-long career ambition, professionally putting on a pair heels for the first time – but still relying on the voice that got him to the final of X-Factor and into the UK Chart Top Five.
Expect an all-singing, all-dancing hour of live vocals and chat with the Queenz as they guide you through an eclectic party playlist, featuring remixed and reimagined pop anthems from The Spice Girls, Shakira, GaGa, Britney, Whitney and everything in between.
Together let’s smash down social boundaries and invite the world in all its sequined glory to a non-apologetic pop party, celebrating unity, unicorns, divas and death drops.
– Interactive Game Series Set for TV adaptation –
The three-part interactive game series comprising Plymouth Point, The Mermaid’s Tongue and The Kindling Hour invites players to unleash their inner online detective as they enter a world of corporate deceit, occult horrors, and shadowy cabals to uncover the twists and turns of a murky underworld deep within high society. The trilogy, which stars actor Dominic Monaghan (Lord of the Rings trilogy), has amassed legions of fans with over 60,000 people across the UK and the US having played the games since the first instalment, Plymouth Point, launched in April 2020.
Whilst the Isklander trilogy in its current form has been designed as an at home, online experience for two – six players, plans to adapt the story for a multi-part drama series for TV are now underway with Gaumont UK – the British arm of the French studio behind Lupin and Narcos. The drama development is led by executive producer Alison Jackson (Tin Star, Ashes to Ashes, Hunted), who also helms Gaumont’s UK growing London-based division, and Gaumont UK’s Senior Development Exec Jamie Jackson.
Employing a blend of inventive storytelling and cutting-edge technology, this dark, digital story world was created by Swamp Motel writers, co-founders and creative directors Ollie Jones and Clem Garritty. Both creative associates of Punchdrunk and co-founders of the critically acclaimed comedy theatre company Kill the Beast, they created Plymouth Point initially in response to the closures of entertainment and theatre spaces across the world last year. It has since grown into a permanent fixture in the online entertainment space internationally and now an entirely new arm of the company’s creative output.
Interactive, multi-media and episodic, Isklander is a transmedia franchise intended to be explored across multiple formats.
Gaumont UK CEO and executive producer Alison Jackson said: “From the moment our senior development executive Jamie Jackson played the first of the Iskander trilogy and recommended it to the team, we could see it’s potential for adaptation. A breathtakingly paced thriller, with a fascinating conspiracy and heart stopping twists at its centre. It feels exactly the sort of show we’re all desperate to watch at the moment, we’re thrilled to be partnering with such an exciting, forward thinking company as Swamp Motel.”
The Isklander series follows a secret society with ties to big money and an international network who will go to any lengths to protect their supremacy. The stories blur fiction and reality, with the very real London Stone at the centre of the race against the clock. Hunting for ancient artefacts linked to this underworld, players work with various characters across the Isklander series to bring down the organisation from the inside.
Swamp Motel’s Clem Garritty and Ollie Jones commented: “We’re so excited to collaborate with Gaumont UK. Our online experiences – Plymouth Point, The Mermaid’s Tongue and The Kindling Hour – were always more than just a trilogy. Together they’re a storyworld. There is so much scope to delve deeper into the world we’ve created and its characters. Adapting Isklander for film and tv purposes provides the perfect opportunity to do just that.
“We see transmedia narratives as the really exciting future of original IPs and we’re passionate about their development and the impact of storytelling on each platform. We’re thrilled Gaumont UK has spotted the same potential.”
Gaumont UK was launched to produce exceptional original British drama for the global market. Led by Executive Producer and CEO Alison Jackson, whose credits include Tin Star, M.I High and Ashes to Ashes, Gaumont UK has several projects in development for terrestrial channels and the streaming market. Gaumont UK recently produced the third series of Sky Atlantic’s hugely successful Tim Roth drama Tin Star, which Jackson executive produced, alongside Kudos.
Further details regarding the TV adaptation are still to come. In the meantime, the Isklander trilogy is available to be played online now – visit isklander.com for more details.
What critics are saying about Isklander trilogy game series:
“Swamp Motel’s escape room/scavenger hunt mashup is the most fun I’ve had in a year“ – CNet
“Swamp Motel knows how to put on a show” – Wired
“Inventive, gorgeously designed and technically dazzling”
★★★★ The Guardian
“Fiendishly good fun”
“It left us feeling invigorated”
★★★★ Daily Mail
Horizon – Performance Created in England
Today, (Tuesday 20 July), a consortium of England’s leading artist-focused arts organisations have announced the line-up for Horizon – Performance Created in England, a vibrant new showcase for this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe taking place from 16 August, with the public programme during the week of 23 August. Nine new, tour-ready, performance works are to be presented in a range of digital settings, alongside seven new projects, supported as part of a ‘residency’ programme, which enables artists to play with new performance ideas across a range of formats and genres.
The works across both the residencies and live performance strands demonstrate the original idea under which Horizon was first posited earlier in 2021 – celebrating artists who are working across performance disciplines and currently based in England – all born out of a new approach to build deep and sustainable collaborations internationally. Horizon is delivered by a consortium made up of Battersea Arts Centre, Dance4, Fierce Festival, GIFT, MAYK and Transform.
The performance programme includes Olivier Award-winning choreographer and director Botis Seva, founder of Far From The Norm, with BLKDOG, a haunting commentary on surviving adulthood as a childlike artist; Future Cargo, a sci-fi dance show performed in a 40-foot haulage truck is the latest outdoor work by Requardt & Rosenberg, filmed for audiences to experience at home with an intimate sound score. Artist Janine Harrington presents a digital online version of her 2018 Screensaver Series, a five-dancer-strong movement and sound installation inspired by the obsolete screen-saving programmes of early computing; and performance and installation artist Joshua Sofaer’s Opera Helps will use zoom to bring professional opera singers into audiences’ own homes for a one to one performance.
First presented at Contact in Manchester earlier in 2021, mandla rae brings short film As British As A Watermelon which explores the citizenship process, questions the realities of decolonisation, picks apart the long-lasting effects of trauma, and explores mandla’s fragmented memory. Theatre director Olivia Furber collaborates with Palestinian filmmaker, writer and actor Ramzi Maqdisi on The Land’s Heart is Greater than its Map. Created especially for Horizon 2021, Furber and Maqdisi will lead audiences through a 20 minute presentation of their work which guides participants through the streets of their own town, with a soundtrack designed in the streets of Jerusalem.
Built with original music and virtual performances, Chinese Arts Now’s Every dollar is a soldier/With money you’re a dragon invites audiences to roam freely as avatars through an ‘after hours’ digital art gallery. Mixing gaming and 3D technology, writer and performer Daniel York Loh compares the apparent success of the once-richest man in America – William Waldorf Astor – with the migration of Chinese people. Multi-award-winning British Asian choreographer Seeta Patel presents a screening of their reimagining of Stravinsky’s iconic ballet ‘The Rite of Spring’ in the classical Indian dance style Bharatanatyam in the year of the 50th death anniversary of Stravinsky; and Tarik Elmoutawakilis’ Marlborough Productions will enable audiences across the globe to join their widely celebrated Brownton Abbey (BA) – an evolving, international performance collective, centring and celebrating disabled, queer people of colour. Adapted for a digital landscape, Brownton Abbey: Talk Show will be a frank and open conversation.
Moving forward from a year of mass cancellations, drastically reduced opportunities, and with creative freelancers now facing more restrictive and costly regulations for touring work, Horizon marks the development of a thrilling new collaborative model. Responding to the need for different and more flexible ways of thinking, the consortium has placed care, innovation, environmental sustainability and accessibility at the heart of the showcase.
Horizon aims to be distinctive from other performing arts showcases by encouraging connections and relationships to be built between artists and programmers at different stages of an artists’ journey. The inclusion of the seven residencies will offer this – providing an opportunity for artists to develop their ideas while inviting international delegates into their creative process at an early stage.
The Horizon residencies include The Dan Daw Show in which artist Daw will look at his relationship to his disability and to kink, and how power, pride and shame all intersect. It is a show about letting go and reclaiming yourself. Jo Bannon’s Blind Magic is a dance piece with two visually diverse/blind performers and one unreliable audio narrator. It explores the imaginative dance between sleight of hand, deception and dexterity present within magic shows, with a canny parallel to the experience of visually disabled people. Artist and producer Katy Baird will be workshopping Get Off – a funny, relatable and sometimes ‘wee bit grim’ performance that revels in excess whilst exploring ways in which it unites us. Katy asks, ‘what gives us pleasure?’ and ‘how much is too much?’
PROJEKT EUROPA will be working on LET YOUR HANDS SING IN THE SILENCE, a planned performance for one actor to recreate their own personal family tree from memory presented by the international female-led theatre company. Multi-award winning writer and performer Rachel Mars’ will use her residency to develop Forge – a new set of work about memorials, replicas, and human behaviour at spaces with difficult histories. Mars asks what and who memorials are for, and what should happen to places where traumatic events have taken place. Urielle Klein-Mekongo’sTRASH is to be a dark, musical comedy about two working-class black girls who decide to join the expanding industry of earning cash, pushing for financial success at all costs, from social media. ULM will use her residency to explore how TRASH will present power and boundaries in this shiny, online world. UKM’s first self-penned solo show Yvette was presented to acclaim at the 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. And rounding off the residencies, British Flamenco dancer and practitioner Yinka Esi Graves’s will be working on her first solo creation, The Disappearing Act, will draw on her experiences as a black flamenco dancer and the historical questions that have been raised along her journey.
Supported by a community of artists and associates, all performance-makers in the showcase will work collaboratively, and will be encouraged and connected with international artists and partners in order to exchange ideas.
Arts Council England Chair, Nicholas Serota commented:
“Giving England’s artists the chance to perform their work on the international stage is vital for nurturing the ambition, innovation and collaboration that will help our cultural sector to thrive after the pandemic. The Edinburgh Fringe is one of the world’s most important cultural festivals, and we’re delighted to have commissioned Horizon as an opportunity for some of the outstanding performing arts talent in this country to showcase their work to industry professionals from around the globe.”
Tarek Iskander – Artistic Director of Battersea Arts Centre, added:
“We are delighted to be hosting and supporting so many remarkable artists and projects in this inaugural year of Horizon. We were inundated with so many brilliant ideas from across the country – ideas that really deserved their place in Edinburgh and the opportunity to engage with new audiences – so this group are simply the tip of a glorious iceberg of the remarkable performance being created in England.
“Taken collectively, this group represent what is truly special about our performance practice… our rich diversity, our ambition to take risk and reimagine what is possible, our openness to ideas wherever they generate, our determination, our profound understanding that arts and culture can truly change the world; our playfulness, our taste for experimentation, and perhaps most of all, our boundless determination to contribute positively to the world, whatever the circumstances. The artists in this programme are committed to provoking and starting important conversations, not jumping to easy answers, and in presenting this work we can help them build the fruitful national and international collaborations that will benefit us all for many years to come.”
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe presents an opportunity for artists to sell their work to tour internationally. This showcase of England-based artists will enable strong connections between international festivals, producers and presenters even in this most difficult year for artists and creators. The works will all be presented digitally, but conversations between artists and possible presenting partners will look at future opportunities for presenting the work as digital, or as theatres open up, as live.
Commissioned by Arts Council England, the Horizon showcase is being delivered by a consortium made up of Battersea Arts Centre, Dance4, Fierce, GIFT, MAYK and Transform.
The consortium partners are working with several established independent artists to help shape the showcase, including Project O (Alexandrina Hemsley, Jamila Johnson- Small), Javaad Alipoor, Kirsty Housley, Sonia Hughes and Renny O’Shea. Associate partners reflecting different specialisms and art form focuses have also had input into the process, including Akademi, ATC, Bush Theatre, Circus City, The Cocoa Butter Club and Unlimited.
Horizon runs from 16 August, with public programme during the week of 23 August. Visit horizon.uk.
Friday 27 – Sunday 29 August 2021
CCA: Centre for Contemporary Arts, Tramway Glasgow & more
- Artistic Director Jian Yi curates JOURNEY TO THE THE EAST – the first live performance festival to be held across Glasgow in over a year, since the lockdown of Spring 2020
- Programme of award-winning new and retrospective performance work including the Scottish premiere of Yingmei Duan’s Happy Yingmei, previously staged at Hayward Gallery London, and the UK premiere of Frédéric Gies’ DANCE IS ANCIENT, a collaboration with Berghain resident DJ Fiedel
- Ethereal, QTPOC ensemble work Weathervanes by Jian Yi to be presented in tandem during the lead-up to JOURNEY TO THE THE EAST as part of the Dance Base performance selection on August 14 & 15 at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2021
Running 27-29 August, Scotland’s newest performance art and contemporary culture festival JOURNEY TO THE EAST (JTTE) will welcome diverse audiences back into live art experiences with a superstar lineup of contemporary performance over the summer festival weekend at Tramway, CCA Glasgow and locations around town.
Across three days of cutting-edge performances and techno music, premiere film screenings and artist workshops culminating in the final day Symposium event featuring a roundtable of special guest speakers, JTTE expands the definitions of Eastern/Mysticism as an exploration of the unconscious mind. Taking its thematic starting point in the metaphysical concept of the ‘Journey to the East’ from Herman Hesse’s 1932 novel of the same title, JTTE creates the much-needed stress release post-lockdown for Scottish audiences to embark on this epic journey to the other side…
Artistic Director of JTTE Festival, Jian Yi says – “We seek to create psycho-tropic friendly space for artists and audiences to engage in collective experiences of ritual and community. Proposing ‘East’ as internal landscape rather than strictly geographical – it refers to a journey to the other side of human consciousness, social experience and the search for truth.”
The programme, curated by multidisciplinary artist Jian Yi, platforms some of the most exciting and yet unseen contemporary artists working in timely performative practices for our age. Attendees can expect to be both viscerally and intellectually-stimulated with a programme of thought provoking work featuring a carefully selected vanguard of local and international artists.
Programme highlights include: Singapore-based choreographer Daniel Kok (aka Diskodanny), artistic director of Dance Nucleus performing their now classic work Cheerleader of Europe – standing in as the embodied figure of neoliberalist optimism, reinterpreted for the post Brexit-era. Kok’s work has been previously showcased globally, notably at the Venice Biennale, ImpulsTanz (Vienna), Festival/Tokyo and AsiaTOPA (Melbourne).
Previously shown around the world in renowned venue-runs such as at Hayward Gallery London and the Sydney Biennale, Yingmei Duan, presents Happy Yingmei. Duan is part of the original Chinese avant-garde and a contemporary of Ai Weiwei and Zhang Huan in the 1990s Beijing East Village. Premiering in Scotland her critically-acclaimed performance installation, Happy Yingmei is a durational work that invites small numbers of audiences at a time through a doorway into Duan’s poetic fairytale wonderland that is enacted in a forest glade.
Also premiering their work in the UK for the very first time is Frédéric Gies, who alongside long-term collaborator and Berghain resident DJ Fiedel delivers masterclass techno beats oscillating between clockwork composition, and the intensities and chaos generated by dancing bodies surrendering to the desires and forces that traverse them. Drawing from their dance floor experiences in techno clubs and raves, DANCE IS ANCIENT is a durational performance that is a club night and a club night that is a performance – a strictly-limited capacity, live participatory evening of dance with a 4-hour DJ set.
Festival Curator, Jian Yi, joins these contemporary performance legends in presenting Weathervanes as the lead-satellite event of JTTE as part of Dance Base’s curated performance programme at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Part of Dance Base’s late night Fringe happenings on Saturday 14 & Sunday 15 August, this contemporary pagan ritual and offering to the sky will feature an ensemble of non-gender conforming, queer and POC nude dancers performing from elevated heights. They will also be collaborating on a new JTTE Festival commission with Chinese artist Jing Xie who will be continuing her quietly-startling performance intervention practice exploring paradigms of individuality and social conventions. Jing Xie and Jian Yi with friends will showcase this new, collaborative performance work for JTTE on Friday 27 August.
Alongside many more artists presenting live and filmed works, JTTE is set to showcase the Scottish premieres of Sin Wai Kin fka Victoria Sin’s If I Had the Words to Tell You We Wouldn’t Be Here Now, Marcos Lutyens’ collaborative work Hypnotic Show with Raimundas Malasauskas originally produced for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum NY, and the Indonesian-seminal performance group Breathing Forest Dance Theatre’s masterwork, Dry Leaf – live performances on film screening exclusively at the CCA cinematheque.
On the final day of the festival, JTTE will host some of the most prominent artists and contemporary theorists as discussion panelists on pressing social themes from within curatorial research, international and independent dance and experimental performance art. Speakers at the event include – Dr. Cecilia Wee, independent curator, producer, researcher and former Chair of Live Art Development Agency; Lucy Suggate, vital and leading figure in UK independent dance; and Sophia Hao, prominent curatorial researcher in contemporary visual art performance culture and Principal Curator of Cooper Gallery, Dundee. The discussion will be moderated by Artistic Director of JTTE Festival Jian Yi, opening up to conversations with the public.
Journey to the East takes place from 27-29 August. Tickets available now via Eventbrite: https://jttefestival.eventbrite.com