A dramatic exploration of an online dilemma, a stunning hip-hop dance performance and a live concert featuring the Queen of British Soul are among the shows being presented at Norwich Theatre Royal as part of the 2019 Norfolk & Norwich Festival programme.
Add in some internationally-renowned musical performers and the surreal story of a kleptomaniac told through dance, and a wide-ranging programme of performance is promised throughout May at the venue.
On May 13, the theatre hosts User Not Found which will be performed in the theatre’s restaurant. Presented by the company Dante Or Die, it explores our digital lives after we die and follows one man’s story as he is faced with keeping or deleting his partner’s online existence. A glimpse of the show is above.
Each member of the audience will be presented with a smartphone and a pair of headphones to help tell this story of contemporary grief which examines our need for connection.
First performed to critical acclaim at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, it has since toured to 14 cafés across the UK and Ireland, and the Norwich visit is part of the production’s 2019 international tour.
User Not Found is one of two Festival events being presented in partnership with the Theatre Royal, with the second occurring the following evening as Boy Blue presents the fierce and affecting hip-hop piece Blak Whyte Gray.
The Olivier Award-nominated triple bill of dance pieces boasts a contemporary setting with the world in flux and everyone in the mood for change. It sets a range of different hip hop styles to a rhythmical score inspired by the music of Africa.
Boy Blue themselves have been creating dance from a base in London since 2001 aiming to encapsulate the core of the capital through hip hop. They have presented work at a host of venues including The Barbican and the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony, as well as boasting a strong educational commitment and running a number of programmes in East London.
There is also a strong musical theme to this year’s Festival line-up. The legendary Malian/Cuban band Las Maravillas De Mali are live on May 12. Formed in the 1960s, they are known for their effortless mix of sounds and rhythms. Their song Rendez-vous chez Fatimata became a big hit in the revolutionary era.
Their visit to Norwich will be part of their very first UK tour and they will be joined in Norwich by Mory Kanté, who became a global pop star in the 80s with hits including Yeke Yeke before returning to his native Africa to become a voice for a new generation of Africans.
May 15 sees the Grammy Award-winning Chilly Gonzales take to the stage. The Grammy Award-winning musician is known for his albums of classical compositions which have a pop music flavour. He has collaborated with the likes of Daft Punk and Drake as well as composing Never Stop, a track which became well-known as it was used for advertising the Apple iPad2.
Chilly is also an accomplished radio broadcaster having presented on both sides of the Atlantic and has recently launched his own music school.
On May 17, the theatre hosts the UK premiere of Bells and Spells which follows the story of Aurelia Thierée’s peculiar journey as the incurable kleptomaniac finds herself at the mercy of the objects that she steals.
The performance uses a mix of dance, unpredictable props and some exciting imagery to bring the story to life blending together the wonderful and strange.
Completing the festival programme at the theatre will be the popular musical star Beverley Knight on May 18. She has sold over a million albums, won three MOBO Awards, and got numerous nominations for Brit Awards.
In addition, she is an accomplished stage star having appeared in a number of West End productions including The Bodyguard and Oliver!
Festival director Daniel Brine said: “This will be my second festival as director and my first full programme. As I get to know the rich cultural heritage of the city and county better from the people living here, I am also mindful of fast-paced changes occurring on a global scale with our relationship to the rest of the UK, Europe and further abroad.
“It has been fascinating to work with artists to present work from around the county and around the world in that context this year. It really is a treat to be part of this Festival of world-class arts which will continue to grow year-on-year presenting the people of Norwich and across Norfolk with fun and thought-provoking performances.”