Have you heard about 96 Festival yet?

Theatre. Debate. Music. Caberet! A new festival of theatre and music comes to Clapham Common πŸŽ‰



1996 was a year of break-ups. Take That split. Arthur Scargill left the Labour Party. Princess Diana divorced Prince Charles. But in a year of break-ups, there was one massive coming together. Clapham Common hosted the Pride after-march party and thousands were there.


This February Omnibus Theatre celebrates that landmark event. 96 is a festival of theatre and music that champions progress, achievement and possibility for everyone. In the run up to the festival, DIVA caught up with Artistic Director of Omnibus Theatre, Marie McCarthy to find out what 96 is all about πŸŽ‰


DIVA: Where did the idea for 96 Festival come from?

Marie McCarthy: There's a big queer community here in Clapham, myself included, and I was really keen to profile LGBTQ+ history in connection with the Common, and so that's really here it came from. We're only four years old as an organisation, so we've been “testing the waters” over the last three years. The idea really is just to have more LGBTQ+ work in the programme, and in the context of a festival setting.


What's the crux of the 96 Festival? 

I was really taken aback when I found out more about the Pride after-march party at Clapham Common in 1996. When I spoke to people who were there, it quickly became apparent that it was a real milestone and a game changer. One person I spoke to said, it was the first time really that there was a sense of celebration, and I thought that was really interesting. It's also a celebration of progress and achievement and of the future. So, for our launch on 1 February, people will be talking about their memories of that day and of being on the Common, and what it felt like. 



What questions and conversations do you hope 96 will open up?

We're using art as a platform to explore LGBTQ+ work, and to ask, what's the future going to be like? What work do we still need to do? What voices do we need to give a bigger platform to? The developments since I came out many years ago, it’s just really - it's fantastically different now and I feel really inspired by the queer community. I'm privileged as an Artistic Director in a theatre to be able to be specific and make choices about the work that I'm interested in. It's a real honour.


What are you hoping people will take away from '96?

We've put on a really interesting range, ranging from bisexual theatre maker Jennifer Toksvig and her What Is The Substance Of Bisexuality?, to Tiny LGBTQ+ Shows, in which 50 people have just two days to write and rehearse before performing! So I think, in essence, it’s about the range of work. I’m hoping that it's a real eclectic mix that's both provocative and challenging. There's music in there as well, and I'm hoping that debate and conversation will follow. It’s also an inclusive festival - for anybody and everybody. I want people to be able to see that actually, they're looking at this kaleidoscopic range of creative work from the queer communities. It's a celebration!



Which performances are you most excited about?

Oh, that's a tough one! I really am excited about a lot of them… I'm really looking forward to seeing Tell Me The Truth About Love a lot. I'm looking forward to seeing Hotter again because I loved it when I saw it in Edinburgh. Our headliner, The Soul of Wittgenstein. And of course, seeing Stella Duffy's work which is just brilliant!


96 Festival launches on Thursday 1 February with performances running throughout the month. Click here to buy tickets πŸŽŸοΈβ€‹




Only reading DIVA online? You're missing out. For more news, reviews and commentary, check out the latest issue. It's pretty badass, if we do say so ourselves.


divadigital.co.uk // divadirect.co.uk


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