State of the Nation: General Election Cultural Events
In the run up to May 7, London's art scene is holding a mirror up to the Nation. Culture Whisper handpicks the best things to do in London around the general election.
If you're feeling jaded, London's art scene is one of the best ways to engage with 21st century British politics. Whether you're up to speed with the debates or find yourself falling asleep every time you see Farage in a pub, these cultural events leading up to May 7 will challenge your assumptions, your politics and your vision of Britain.
Here's Culture Whisper's guide to the best London events inspired by the election, explained by the curators and directors that made them happen.
Notes on Protesting, Whitechapel
In this series of films, Notes on Protesting shows a group of children protesting and expressing their views with one voice.
Peter Liversidge, artist, told Culture Whisper:
"Notes on Protesting responds to that generalised idea of how even adults might feel disenfranchised from the political system, let alone children.
Art has the ability to humanise the political experience. Performance art and photography engages with politics in ways that enable the audience reconsider them.
When you're experiencing news online or in the newspaper, even to describe it as 'news' means to see it in a certain way - not a part of you. But when you describe something as culture, and when you're listening to music or being presented with a painting, suddenly it elicits an emotional response and becomes much more about your internal station and a thing in your world.
Notes on Protesting, in particular, gave children the chance to know they were being listened to. There was a sense that this really mattered, for them to be heard. There was also the sense of the power of having a single voice, and I wanted to think of protests as a force for good."
The Vote, Donmar Warehouse
Coinciding with the real general election on May 7, The Vote sees 50 actors at the Donmar create the comings and goings of a fictional London polling station. How will it end? No one knows, not even the actors.
Josie Rourke, the Donmar's artistic director, says:
“It’s fair to say people have broadcast plays live on television before; whether anyone has broadcast a play in real time, reflecting the events as they are happening … we think that’s pretty cool and don’t think anyone has done it before. This is more a piece about the act of voting and democracy in the 21st century. I genuinely don’t know what all of the outcomes of it will be but one outcome will definitely be some learning and maybe some recalibrating of people’s thinking about how theatre might work on television."
All of This Belongs to You, Victoria and Albert museum
Consider the role of public institutions and reflect on citizenship, technology, privacy, surveillance, and the role of the Victoria and Albert museum at All of This Belongs To You, inside the V&A's beautiful walls.
Kieran Long, curator, says:
“I see the V&A itself, this amazing building in this amazing place, completely continuous with the public realm … we’re part of the democratic and municipal infrastructure so we wanted to offer up the spaces in a new way during this time of public debate.”
Changing Britain Festival, Southbank Centre
The Southbank Centre is hosting a huge range of cultural events celebrating post-war Britain in the run up to the general election.
History is Now: Hayward Gallery
One of our favourite events participating in the Changing Britain festival is History is Now at the Hayward Gallery. This mishmash of music, art, philosophy and literature, examines who we are as a nation and how we got here.
Dr Cliff Lauson, co-curator of History is Now, told Culture Whisper:
"History is Now: 7 Artists Take On Britain asks seven artist-curators to respond personally to the episodes of recent British history that they felt to be the most important and interesting to address in 2015, and on the eve of the general election. Their responses not only speak of the big party-platform issues such as the economy, employment, healthcare and defence, but also delve deeper into equally prescient social issues such as domestic violence, food production, advertising and celebrity culture. Most importantly, History is Now reminds us that the visual arts are a powerful agent for engaging politics and society, both documenting and promoting social change."
Eat, Drink, Think
Eat, drink and think your way through the cut and thrust of politics with two evenings of political debate at the London Fields Brewery.
Tristan Pringle, co-organiser of Eat Drink Think, told Culture Whisper:
"We believe the combination of dinner and shared entertainment creates a great social setting for constructive discussion. We provide access to informed voices and opportunities for conversation - essential ingredients for reflection and progress that can be scarce in time-poor lifestyles. We hope our guests will benefit from these events when considering their vote in this tight-rope election."
Light Shining In Buckinghamshire, National Theatre
The National Theatre revives a political play by Caryl Churchill: Light Shining with Buckinghamshire, which explores the possibility of revolution in the aftermath of civil war
National Theatre Artistic Director Rufus Norris describes this revival of Light Shining in Buckinghamshire as a 'timely reminder as we go to the polls of the power of personal choice'.
Dead Sheep, Park Theatre
Steve Nallon, Spitting Image star, impersonates Thatcher on stage in a timely drama based on Geoffery Howe’s resignation speech betrayal at Park Theatre 2015