An outdoor Afrofuturistic performance blending circus, storytelling, Sound System Culture and West African folklore
Co-created and co-directed by Vicki Dela Amedume and J Spooner
NATIONAL TOUR 24 May – 3 September
PRESS PERFORMANCES: 27 Aug GDIF 2pm & 6pm
Press welcome at all performances
“The excellent Unlimited Theatre… a company that has always combined infinite thoughtfulness with theatrical flair.” Guardian (on Unlimited Theatre)
“Telling a story through contemporary circus is a feat attempted by many, but achieved by regrettably few […] Upswing makes it look easy.” ★★★★ The Stage (on The Ramshackle House)
@upswingaerial @untheatre | #AncientFutures | upswing.org.uk; unlimited.earth
Starting with the arrival of flamboyant Afrinauts, this collaboration between diverse-led contemporary circus company Upswing and Leeds-based theatre makers Unlimited is a joyful celebration of what future might be. Working with Grime artist Afrikan Boy and Quantum Poet Oneness Sankara, Ancient Futures incorporates Sound System culture – a cornerstone of Jamaican music – and West African folklore. Drawing inspiration from past and present experiences of people of African descent, it imagines the new rituals we need to live in a more positive society that enables Black and Global Majority people to reclaim space. With a cast of five Afrinauts performing circus, acrobatics and hip hop, and an MC/Griot leading their ritual, this Afrofuturistic show combines sci-fi, fantasy and history.
Ancient Futures is built on a ‘super fiction’ created by writer Oneness Sankara that imagines the return of fantastical visitors from a society rooted in West African culture that have emerged in our dimension. These Afrinauts arrive in a public space and explore what it might be to live amongst us. They set up for their daily ritual: a dance party, service, celebration that fuses West African Mythology with a pop sensibility; opening a pathway to an alternate place and a vision of a more powerful, joyful and equitable future for all.
Alongside the performances, the performers invite young audiences to join them for training sessions in physical skills, rhythms and beats (selected venues).
Ancient Futures is part of the Without Walls 2023 programme, and touring to Newbury Corn Exchange, Brighton Festival and Greenwich+Docklands International Festival with further dates to be announced.
Upswing Artistic Director Vicki Dela Amedume said “Ancient Futures is an opportunity to boldly, loudly and joyfully celebrate black and brown bodies taking over public space. We are excited to bring this new experience to audiences across the UK this summer and allow our Afrinauts to entice people to join their mission and their movement.”
Unlimited Core Artist J Spooner added, “Ancient Futures will be the final show I make with Unlimited and it’s been a dream collaboration with Vicki and all the artists involved. We’re inviting audiences to travel with us to a version of reality full of hope and reckless optimism – a brighter, better, bolder future in which no-one is diminished and everyone is included.”
Upswing, a diverse led contemporary circus company founded by Vicki Dela Amedume in 2006, are committed to exploring relevant and thought-provoking themes across all their work. Their recent shows include outdoor show Catch Me which was also presented digitally, and the award-winning films Common Ground (The Mockumentary) and Circus Flavours on Screen as well as family shows The Ramshackle House and Bedtime Stories. Through its creations, Upswing aims to inspire curiosity, share urgent ideas, especially those relevant to Black and Global Majority communities, and tell new stories in extraordinary ways. Upswing strives to break new ground in performance seeking authenticity in the representation of Black experiences and innovating in circus/physical theatre.
Unlimited Theatre is an award-winning company of UK artists and producers making and telling inspirational stories for live performance in public spaces – theatres, festivals, galleries, museums, the streets of your city, on the internet and for broadcast. Their projects are born from the passions and obsessions of their six Core Artists who share a vision to tell stories that inspire audiences to change the world (for the better). Their work includes Future Bodies, The Ethics of Progress, The Astro Science Challenge, Am I Dead Yet? and Money the Game Show.
Running Time: approx. 30 mins | Suitable for all ages but best enjoyed by 7+
Co-created and co-directed by Vicki Dela Amedume and J Spooner
Written by Oneness Sankara
Dance choreography by Kofi Mingo
Movement Direction by Vicki Dela Amedume
Set design by Becky Minto
Music composition by Afrikan Boy
Costume design by Izzy Jones-Rigby
Sound design by Thor McIntyre-Burnie
Production manager Helen Mugridge
Technical stage manager Shaun Barber
Deputy stage managers Simon Perkins & Bernice Rayner
Afrinauts Azula Bandit, Talisman Jaguar, Kofi Mingo, Akadi Sankofa, Mitchel Taunton
MC/Griot: Akadi Sankofa
24 May – 3 September
24 May Newbury Corn Exchange
Market Pl, Newbury RG14 5BD
FREE | 6.30pm
Cornexchangenew.com | 01635 522733
27 – 28 May Brighton Festival
FREE | Sat 3pm & 6.30pm, Sun 5.30pm
30 June Hat Fair, Winchester
Busket Yard, Busket Lane, SO23 0EJ
£7.50 – £3 | 5pm & 7.30pm
1 – 2 July Coventry (TBA)
28 – 29 July Bradford (TBA)
3 – 4 Aug Stockton (TBA)
27 – 28 Aug Greenwich+Docklands International Festival
The Moorings, Thamesmead Titmuss Ave, London SE28 8BH
FREE | 2pm & 6pm
2 – 3 Sept Leeds (TBA)
Ancient Futures is co-produced by Unlimited Theatre and Upswing. Ancient Futures has been supported by Without Walls and commissioned by LEEDS 2023; Greenwich & Docklands International Festival; Brighton Festival and Stockton International Riverside Festival. Ancient Futures has also been supported by Coventry City Council. Co-commissioned by City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council for BD:Festival. Creation supported by 101 Outdoor Arts. Supported using public funding by Arts Council England.
The R&D for Ancient Futures was supported by the Blueprint R&D Investment Fund
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