A festival of theatre and music that champions achievement and possibility for everyone

The year 1996 was a one full 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.

This February, Omnibus Theatre, located on the edge of the common, celebrates that landmark event. Called 96, it’s a festival of theatre and music that champions achievement and possibility for everyone.

Sixteen productions and performances of and relating to LGBTQ+ progress, resilience and art.

Omnibus Theatre artistic director Marie McCarthy said: “96 Festival is a wonderful celebration of our connection to the common and its historical links to the LGBTQ+ community.

“It’s an opportunity to reflect from what’s happened since 1996 and where we are now and beyond.”

Drag Me To Love and Hotter, are two highlight productions that punctuate this month-long event.

Both were hits at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and this will be the first time the shows will be introduced to a wider audience.

Produced by Bonnie and the Bonnettes, Drag Me to Love is an autobiographical piece that follows 14-year-old Cameron as he throws himself into a pair of six-inch stilettos, meeting new people – making friends and foes. Perfectly combining drag performance with theatrical storytelling, that will make you will laugh, cry, dance and sing.

Ell Potter and Mary Higgins’s production Hotter explores what makes us all “hot” by exploring how we are all common as well as different.

Potter and Higgins explore the body and intimacy in what is normally considered a taboo way in the most hilarious yet heartbreaking way possible.

“What distinguishes this production is the recurring features of audio recordings of the two interviewees about what “hot” means to them. The anonymity of the audio relates back to the theme that we are all one in the same.

The Soul of Wittgenstein is the headline show and runs through the 96 Festival. It’s a sensitive and touching play, a fictional account of one of the finest philosophers of the 20th century, Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein. Working as a porter at Guy’s Hospital during the Blitz, the academic begins a relationship with a young, illiterate and terminally ill patient.

Wittgenstein teaches the patient to read classic philosophers, and the patient teaches him rhyming slang. Comedy and pathos are blended perfectly in Dave Spencer’s pertinent and engrossing production.

Based on My Beloved Man: The Letters of Britten and Pears, Tell Me the Truth About Love, a new play by Sue Blundell, opened FitzFest 2017 to great acclaim.

The play celebrates the forbidden relationship between the composer and his long-term partner by drawing on letters that Britten and Pears wrote to each other.

Award-winning writer, improviser, and campaigner Stella Duffy closes 96 Festival with a solo improv show Learning to Swim in the Abyss. Each performance is an experiment in live making and death, specifically the death we all live for.

Duffy describes it as not a show, not rehearsed, just all in the moment.

For full details and tickets, go to https://omnibus-clapham.org/

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