London International Festival of Theatre

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Artistic director Mark Ball

LIFT is a London, UK, based arts organisation that curates a year-round programme of artistic activity – performances, talks, installations and events - and a pan-London festival of shows and special events every two years. The organisation was founded by Rose Fenton and Lucy Neal in 1981 "grasping the opportunity LIFT afforded to engage with the world through theatre".[1]

2010 saw the first full festival since 2001 and under the new leadership of artistic direction Mark Ball.

Lastest festival[edit]

LIFT 2010[edit]

LIFT 2010 (19 June-17 July) was a presentation of theatre from the Middle East and North Africa, such as Aftermath in The Old Vic Tunnels and Hobb Story.

Also, with seven UK premieres and five shows new to London, LIFT 2010 included new work from Dutch theatre-maker Dries Verhoeven, who linked audiences at the National Theatre live to performers in Sri Lanka, Israel’s Nalaga’at Theatre, the world’s only professional company of deaf blind performers, a weekend of social game playing on an international theme from Hide&Seek, and a new symphony for ice cream vans by the composer and theatre-maker Dan Jones.

2011 LIFT’s 30th Birthday[edit]

LIFT took part in Shubbak with two productions from Egypt and Lebanon. It also hosted 20 young festival producers from across Europe in a three-day training academy as part of the Festlab initiative. Luke Jerram’s Sky Orchestra sent seven hot air balloons that took off at dawn and flew over London with a melody specially created by composer Dan Jones.

In addition, LIFT spent 2011 working with seven schools across London exploring the possibilities of theatre through the LIFT Living Archive and using the Olympic Games as a catalyst to create their own special event. And also joined forces with Homo Novus in Riga, Latvia and Newcastle’s Wunderbar to create Distance, a roaming performance festival that explored the relationship with distancee.

LIFT 2012[edit]

LIFT 2012 (12 June-15 July) included 21 productions from 15 different countries in a five-week festival of international theatre, seen by over 43,000 audience members.

The festival went to the West End for the first time in its history with Elevator Repair Service's Gatz, that "beautifully captures the elegiac tone of the book with its sense of the dissolving, essentially agrarian American Dream".[2] It also established a partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company's World Shakespeare Festival, co-commissioning three new international productions from dreamthinkspeak, Iraqi Theatre Company and Artistes, Producteurs, Associés.

LIFT 2012 continued to feature artists from the Middle East and the Arab world, as well as artists from Iran, with Unfinished Dream by Hamid Pourazari; Belarus, with Minsk 2011 by Belarus Free Theatre; and Brazil, with The Dark Side of Love by Renato Rocha.

LIFT 2013[edit]

The LIFT team is working on its next festival: LIFT 2014 that will take place 2–29 June. At the same time, the organisation maintains its cultural programme as producer, commissioner and partnership of networks such as House on Fire, Imagine 2020 and Festival in Transition or Live art UK.

The main activity during those months have been focus on giving support to small or medium size companies which LIFT have worked with before like the Belarus Free Theatre that presented its new project Trash Cuisine. Also, LIFT has worked in close collaboration with Derry-Londonderry, 2013 City of the Culture Political Mother: Derry-Londonderry Uncut, a re-working of Hofesh Shechter Company’s work Political Mother: Choreographer’s cut supporting 12 Derry musicians to join the band for the performance. Working with dancers from Hofesh Shechter Company and 5 local dance groups LIFT producer Political Mother: Shortcuts, a series of sigh specific dance pieces performed in the city of Derry created in response to the themes and dance vocabulary of Political Mother.

Whilst in Derry LIFT also worked with Boat Magazine to produce a limited edition newspaper version of their nomadic magazine about the people, culture and life of the city.

Finally, LIFT organised a conference on how artists respond to archives ‘Past Is The Prologue’, and a festival hack where developers, programmers, coders and artists came together to create prototype digital projects responding to the themes of LIFT.


  1. ^ Fenton, Rose and Lucy Neal. The turning world. London, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 2005. Page: 27.
  2. ^ Billington, Michael "Gatz - review", 14 June 2012, The Guardian.

External links[edit]