The Burning Tower

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S.P.I.D. Theatre in association with Bush Theatre presents

THE BURNING TOWER by Helena Thompson

Touring to council estates in Birmingham, Tyneside and Nottingham  31 Aug  – 8 Sep in association with marketing partners Birmingham Rep’s The Box, Northern Stage and Theatre Royal Nottingham respectively, prior to performances at Kensal House Community Rooms, Kensal House Estate, Ladbroke Grove, W10 5BQ  from 11 Sep – 6 Oct 2018 and finally at The Redwell Centre, Gloucester on October 7th.

Press Performance – Wednesday 12 Sep at 4.30pm at Kensal House
See coverage from the BBC , Time Out, Theatre Weekly, and The Stage
The Guardian says “don’t miss” The Burning Tower

THE BURNING TOWER, a new play, is an interactive response to the Grenfell fire exploring the history of social housing and the shadow cast by the tragedy. Inspired by interviews with local West London estate residents, it will star Hayley Carmichael in council estates nationwide before happening site specifically at Kensal House estate, funded by Arts Council England.

Sarah and Em are best friends who grew up together on West London estates. Since 2017, they’ve worked hard researching their estates’ past – as Living History youth ambassadors. Today they’re proud to invite us to their presentation on the local heritage of social housing. But Grenfell’s shadow threatens the show as the performance space falls into darkness, fuses blow and Sarah starts to panic. Will the mysterious old latecomer who keeps trying to take over prove a help or a hindrance?

And I tell you what, most of us ‘heroes’ – we’re still trapped. Firemen, grown men, seeing flames that ain’t there. Fathers, trying to stay strong and blubbing like toddlers in their sleep. Kids breaking through boarding to dig up the rubble, still searching for friends cos no one’s man enough to tell them that missing, ‘missing’…means dead. …

The all female company of The Burning Tower consists of three actors: Hayley Carmichael, Bianca Stevens & Alice Franziska and five artists, directed by Hannah Gittos. The script was written by Helena Thompson, an award winning writer and Artistic Director of S.P.I.D. Theatre.

This is S.P.I.D.’s second UK tour of council estates. The Burning Tower will visit  Birmingham’s Druids Heath estate, Tyneside’s Meadow Well estate and Nottingham’s Clifton Estate. The promenade production will be marketed by Birmingham Rep’s The Box, Northern Stage and Theatre Royal Nottingham respectively, who will sell the tickets.

Hannah Gittos – Director
As a director, Hannah has worked extensively for the Lyric Hammersmith. She has co-directed theatre projects in both Feltham and Rochester Young Offenders Institute and specialises in working with socially excluded young people. She directed the multiple award winning “Womanz”, written and performed by Tessa Waters. Hannah is a founding member of the 5* sketch group Comedy Bitch, has worked repeatedly as a performer with the award winning Tangled Feet and took her first solo show, “The Clown T & Me” to the Edinburgh Fringe festival in 2017. She has trained in Clown and Bouffon with the world renowned, Phillipe Gaulier.   

Helena Thompson – Writer
Helena is an award winning writer and Artistic Director of S.P.I.D. Theatre. Her credits include The Burning Tower (BBC Radio 4), iAm (nominated for an Offie award), Arthur’s World (published by Oberon, sold out at Bush Theatre in 2015) and High Above the Sky, (animated film which won the ITV First Light award).

Hayley Carmichael – The Woman

Hayley co-founded theatre company Told By An Idiot. Theatre work includes: Crave (Barbican), UnderGlass (Clod Ensemble), First Love is The Revolution (Soho),  Beyond Caring (The Yard), Too Clever By Half (Manchester Royal Exchange/ TBI), Forests (Birmingham Rep), Hamlet (Young Vic), Fragments (Bouffes du Nord), Bliss (Royal Court), Cymbeline (Kneehigh), Theatre Of Blood (NT), Zumanity (Cirque de Soleil), I Weep At My Piano (TBI), The Dispute (RSC), Street Of Crocodiles (Complicite). TV work includes: Les Miserables, Witness For The Prosecution (BBC), Kiss Me First (CH4), Chewing Gum (Retort). Film work includes: Casanova (Bluelight), Undergods (Scott Free) Hunger Artist (Daria Martin), Tale of Tales (Archimedes), Emperor’s New Clothes (Bonaparte).

Alice Franziska – Em

Alice was born in Cambridge, raised in New Zealand, and eventually transported back to England aged nine. Much to her (and her father’s) disappointment, she lost the accent, but she did gain a love of acting from her new county, Shakespeare’s Warwickshire. Since then she has played roles including Beatrice (Much Ado, SYC), Martirio (Bernarda Alba, Playbox) and “2” in a new piece of writing by acclaimed poet Sabrina Mahfouz (Blame us for the Flood, NYT Epic stages). She has trained with the National Youth Theatre and MN Screen Academy. She is represented by Middleweek Newton.

Bianca Stephens – Sarah

Bianca trained at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Theatre work includes: Midsummer Night’s Dream (Storyhouse), Julius Caesar (Storyhouse), E15 (Lung Theatre), The Great Austerity Debate (Menagerie Theatre), Always Orange (RSC), Blue (Richard Burton Company), The Rover (Richard Burton Company), Narrative (Richard Burton Company), Macbeth, (Richard Burton Company), In Arabia We’d All Be Kings (Richard Burton Company), Dogville (Richard Burton Company). Radio work includes: Dorian Grey (Big Finish).

Producers: Giulia James, Ursula Kelly, Olivia Lantz, Shan Rixon

Running time: 80 minutes

Age limit: suitable for age 14+
The show contains black outs, fire alarms, use of weaponry and swearing

Ticket price: Individual £10, Youth/Community groups of 5+ £2 with discount code KENSAL14

Dates & tickets:

Friday 31st August and Saturday 1st September at 7.30pm

At Manningford Hall,

Birmingham,  B14 5TJ

Book tickets

Tuesday 4th September at 1.30pm and Wednesday 5th September at 4.30pm

At Meadow Well Connected
North Shields, NE29 6BA

Book tickets

Thursday – Saturday 6-8th September incl. @ 7.00pm

Highbank Community Centre,

Clifton, NG11 9DG

Book tickets

Tuesday 11th Sept – Saturday 6th October

Performance times:

Tues at 1.30pm, Wed at 4.30pm, Thurs, Fri, Sat at 7.30pm

Kensal House Estate

Ladbroke Grove, W10 5BQ

Book tickets

Sunday 7th October at 4.30pm

The Redwell Centre,

Gloucester, GL4 6JG

Book tickets: or phone Sarah O’Donnell 07707 989802 Naomi Draper 07957 715691

Accessibility: Due to the promenade nature of this performance, this show is unfortunately not suitable for wheelchair users

The show contains black outs, fire alarms, use of weaponry and swearing

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