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Various Stages Festival 2020 Showcase and Forum

We are sorry to say that we have had to cancel the public-facing element of our Various Stages Festival 2020. That means we won’t be holding the showcase and forum on Thursday 19th March at the ICA. Our decision was taken in light of the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 situation on our artists, audience members, staff and suppliers, and in particular in response to the closure of the ICA which comes into effect tomorrow.

We want to thank all our artists and collaborators for the incredible passion, skill and brilliance of their work that we’ve been privileged to be a part of over the last weeks and months. We are so disappointed that we won't be able to share this work with you as planned. We will however gather all the material and documentation from the workshops and we will circulate this to you all in due course. 
Ultimately the repatriation of a number of key artists, the health and well-being of all involved in Various Stages and a sensitivity to the global environment led us to this decision. 

If you have bought a ticket already to the event on Thursday then of course you are entitled to a refund. If you would like a refund please email or you can process your refund directly through Eventbrite. We would be hugely grateful, however, if you felt able to turn that into a donation to Mahogany as most of the expenditure incurred for the Various Stages Festival has been paid and cannot be recovered.

Thank you so much for your understanding at this strange and difficult time.


Various Stages is Mahogany’s distinctive and artist-led research and development programme and on Thursday 19 March, the 2020 Festival reaches its culmination in an afternoon of work-in-progress performances, feedback sessions, panel discussion, funding surgeries and networking opportunities. 

Each of the featured projects, the majority chosen from an open call, are brilliant examples of how new opera and music theatre is being created. They are multi-artform, cross-genre and immersive and show how their makers are telling engaging stories in insightful, collaborative, provocative ways that resonate with today’s audiences. 

The Various Stages Festival offers the chance to discover new work, a rare look inside the creative process and an opportunity to participate in conversations about the future direction of opera and music theatre. 

Showcase performances and critical feedback
Seven short work-in-progress showcases of boundary-pushing opera and music theatre give a unique insight into the creative process. Each project will receive a critical feedback session when attendees are invited to share their creative and practical experience to help shape this fledgling work for future audiences.

See below for full list of featured projects.

Download the full schedule for Thursday 19 March here. 

Round Table
From dream to reality: how can we help new opera and music theatre to thrive in theatres & opera houses?
Chaired by Rhian Hutchings, Creative Director of OperaSonic
While opportunities to develop new work are relatively plentiful, there can be many barriers to making the transition from workshop space to venue stage. Let’s begin to drive change in our industry by coming up with some big ideas and realistic actions to help us take the first step towards turning our dreams into reality. 

Joining the panel are Fay Jennett, Creative Producer, Opera & Music-theatre Snape Maltings; Russell Plows, Artistic Director of Hull Urban Opera and Frederic Wake-Walker, Artistic Director of Mahogany Opera all with experience of making new work happen. 

Funding surgeries
Chloë Brookes, (Arts Council England, Relationship Manager, Music inc. Music Education Hubs) will run a series of 10-minute advice surgeries for artists and producers.

Drinks and networking
Join us in the bar afterwards to catch up with colleagues, make new contacts and discover potential collaborations. 

Who should attend? 
We’d love to hear a whole range of thoughts, opinions and perspectives and think the festival will be of most interest to:
• Makers of new opera and music theatre 
• Producers and venue programmers seeking to present exciting new work 
• Funders interested in helping to make new opera and music theatre happen 

The featured projects are: 
A place to fall to pieces
Isobel and Anna Hughes
Isobel and Anna Hughes combine music, storytelling and theatre with English folklore and the mythologies of their childhood in a lyrical exploration of displacement and belonging.

A Reasonable Adjustment
Toria Banks and Amble Skuse
Song, drama and electronic soundscape combine in this vivid representation of how the rich and nuanced life experiences of disabled people contrast with the cold absurdity of a callous bureaucracy.

A Rumi Passion
Rolf Hind
Drawing on the life and philosophy of Sufi poet and mystic, Rumi, this piece – a development from Rolf’s previous work with Mahogany, the meditation opera, Lost in Thought – might take the form of an epic parable or staged oratorio.

Wojciech Rusin
Renaissance-inspired music and poetry meets today’s technology in this immersive audio-visual work for choir and 3D-printed oboes, inspired by its creator’s vision for a post-nationalistic utopia.

The Passing of the Butterfly (working title)
Gwyneth Herbet & Ogutu Muraya
Gwyn and Ogutu are gathering stories from Kenya and exploring various forms of mythical storytelling in order to bring new perspectives on past events, particularly related to colonialism, that allow all sides ‘to look at the wound together’.

Hildegard: Visions
Nwando Ebizie
Voices, video, electronic soundscapes, sculptural light installations and ritual dances converge in this immersive opera imagining the life of Hildegard von Bingen through the prism of the composer’s own experience of the neurological disorder ‘visual snow’.

Peter Cant and Jessica Maryon Davies
In collaboration with Sam Kyslyi, Olesia Onykiienko, Danylo Shramenko, Mirra Zhuchkova
Created by British and Ukrainian artists and inspired by the true story of one of the actors, the performance considers the hooligan in all of us, expressed through a clash of vocal soundscapes and electronics.


The Various Stages Festival 2020 is supported by Arts Council National Lottery Project Grant, Britten-Pears Foundation, D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, John Ellerman Foundation, The Garrick Charitable Trust, The Leche Trust, PRS for Music Foundation (Talent Development Partnership) and the RVW Trust.


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A showcase of boundary-pushing new opera and music theatre


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