Inua Ellams, the Albany and WE ARE LEWISHAM PRESENT 05 FEST

Poetry takes front and centre stage at the Albany in March

Poet, Playwright and Performer Inua Ellams brings his own brand of poetry and spoken word to South-East London’s leading cultural hub, in collaboration with We Are Lewisham, the Mayor’s London Borough of Culture 2022.

05Fest will unite the separate strands of Ellams work which he has staged in
theatres and a variety of venues across the UK and internationally over the past 15 years. The programme of events includes; Search Party, a reactive and spontaneous audience-led poetry show that most recently was performed at the Donmar Warehouse; Poetry Film Hack, a night which adds live poetry readings to the viewing experience of a chosen film to expand, deepen or highlight its themes. Cult 80s film
Babylon will be screened; Twitter Poetry Workshop, a mass participatory creative writing session taking place in real-time in the Twittersphere; and closing the festival is R.A.P Party, in celebration of Lewisham as London’s Borough of Culture 2022, the line-up will feature an all-star cast of poets residing and reverently repping South London.

Kicking off 05Fest, [named after Ellams ‘mild obsession’ with the number 5], is the world premiere of his newest play, a rehearsed reading of A Block of Flats. This futuristic exploration of climate change, kindness and empathy is set on one night in London. The universal forces of Chaos and Order chose five inhabitants from a block of flats, to decide the fate of humanity. The cast of seven will have multi-rolling parts and will be directed by the Bush Theatre’s Artistic Director Lynette Linton.

Ellams says: “I’m ecstatic and lucky that this inaugural 05Fest is happening in my own neighbourhood. I’ve worked with the Albany for over 10 years, and I hope the community in Deptford and across Lewisham come out to celebrate and explore themselves and local creativity at these 5 events next month.”

About his new play which was redrafted twice during the pandemic lockdowns, Ellams adds: “I wrote A Block of Flats to try and understand folks who lived where I once did, in a block of flats in Brixton. I interviewed them, but the story could be set in any major city anywhere in the world, where the forces of class, capitalism, migration, gentrification and ageism work their ways into our lives, into our very bodies, and cloud us from really seeing each other. All this is framed by climate change, which poses the biggest threat to our way of life. It is a lyrical poetic study of characters with intersection stories, and there’s a huge sci-fi twist I hope audiences will appreciate. “

Gavin Barlow, Chief Executive/Artistic Director of the Albany comments: “We’re thrilled to welcome Inua back to the Albany alongside a host of other poets and creatives for 05Fest. With impactful new work as well as firm-favourites, we’re looking forward to welcoming audiences back and platforming some of the most exciting talents in Lewisham as part of its Borough of Culture year.”

Festival Programme in more detail

A Block Of Flats
By Inua Ellams, Directed by Lynette Linton
Thursday 10th March 7.30pm £10

Set on one night in London, the universal forces of Chaos and Order chose five inhabitants from a block of flats, to decide the fate of humanity.

A Block of Flats is an emotive, imaginative exploration of climate change, kindness and empathy in present-day London, where Inua employs his typical poetic, mellifluous, beautiful use of language in asking the most pressing questions of our times in the world premiere of this rehearsed reading of his newest play.


Search Party With Inua Ellams
Friday 11th March 7.30pm, £10, £8

Pull up to Inua’s chaotic audience-led poetry show. Pick a word, any word. Prompted by audience suggestions the poet and performer will search through his extensive archive of work and perform a reactive and spontaneous selection. Each show is unique and special.



Poetry Film Hack – Babylon

12 March 7pm, £10, £8

Poetry Film Hack presents both artforms in collaboration, by adding live poetry readings to the viewing experience of magnificent films. Inua chooses movies that are socially, politically or culturally resonant and includes poetry in their presentation to expand, deepen or highlight their themes.

For the inaugural 05Fest, cult 1980s film Babylon will be screened. Set in Deptford 40 years ago this portrait of the Sound System subculture, was a rallying cry during Thatcher’s Britain. Once banned, accused of inciting violence, Babylon is now seen as one of the finest films of its genre.


Twitter Poetry Workshop

Friday 18th March – 2pm/Free @twitterpoetry

Twitter Poetry Workshop deconstructs the steps of writing a poem in a mass participatory creative writing exercise that happens in real time, on twitter. Over the course of an hour, clear and precise writing prompts will be shared together to culminate in a finished poem. These will be collated and digitally published so participants might read and enjoy their structurally similar, yet vastly different work. Invitation to anyone anywhere in the world.


R.A.P PARTY (Rhythm And Poetry)
Saturday 19th March – 7.30pm £5

What might eloquent voices from contemporary poetry and spoken word movements have to say about hip-hop’s past, present and future? Chill and find out at this Rhythm And Poetry Party, a nostalgic, no-clutter, no-fuss, night of hip-hop-inspired poems and favourite hip-hop songs. The format is super simple, 10 poets share a poem that engages any aspect of hip-hop culture and Lewisham. After each poet, the DJ will play two hip hop songs of the poet’s choosing, linking to the poem.

The line-up to be announced.


For more information: https://www.thealbany.org.uk/shows-and-events/

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