CRACKz

The closely guarded secret is out: the hotly anticipated biennial programme for LIFT 2014 has been announced, and it’s no disappointment. The launch evening took place in an appropriate location, at the very top of Centre Point building, surveying the city in which the festival is to take place, and from which, in many cases, the work takes its inspiration. After a series of short but nevertheless touching and inspiring speeches, the programme, the view and, of course, the movers and shakers of the theatre industry who had been attracted there, were allowed to speak for themselves.

Outlined and illuminated in a series of articles curated by Maddy Costa, the brochure is reflective of the effort that has gone into this year’s festival, and the detail and variety that has resulted. Emblazoned with the tagline “Where the city meets the stage”, this year’s festival more than ever seems committed to embracing the city with all its nooks and crannies, dark corners and often not-so-palatable realities. Included in the impressive list of locations are a number of venues that are not explicitly theatrical, some of them new, including the Royal Academy, the V&A, Doon Street car park and on the internet. You get the feeling that, particularly in these times of the ever-mentioned erosions of arts funding, venues and disciplines cannot remain hermetically sealed. The involvement of all is needed, as is the collaboration and sharing of resources, which also has the handy advantage of producing surprising, stimulating results.

Also on show are some traditionally non-theatrical topics (if such a thing exists), with not one but two productions that take football as their subject. Turfed, directed by Renato Rocha, takes place in a secret London location, and is said to use football to reflect on youth homelessness. Though I cannot yet comment on how successful this is, if the passion and clear-sighted altruism of those there on the night is anything to go by, it will certainly be worth a watch.

Being somewhat of a milestone – LIFT’s twentieth festival – the team have also taken the opportunity to look back, with a number of pieces with a consciously historic approach. After a War is co-commissioned with 14-18 NOW, and presented with Battersea Arts Centre, a building with its own weight of stories and histories.

Above all, the programme is characterised by its variety and its commitment to challenging, high quality work from all over the world. In times of economic hardship, there is a tendency for political extremism to increase, and perhaps too a fear of the unknown, matched with a congruent decrease in artistic risk-taking and cultural eclecticism. LIFT is one of a number of important organisations fighting against the tide, championing cultural and social difference. As was often repeated on the night: the box often is open.

LIFT 2014 takes place across London between 2 – 29 June. For more information and tickets, see the LIFT Festival website.