hotbed 2019 schedule

Full production by menagerie


Written by Fraser Grace

Directed by Paul Bourne

Original music composition by Michaela Polakova

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Dates & TIMEs: Fri, 7pm & sun, 7pm

Running Time: 2hrs 40mins
TICKETS: £10, £9 (concessions)

BLISS tells the tragi-comic tale of a young couple trying to build a life against the odds. The shattered world they live in, and their own shattered identities, are just some of the obstacles Nikita and Lyuba must overcome – in order to find that elusive thing called BLISS.

Based on a short story by Andrey Platonov – a writer cruelly suppressed under Stalin’s rule – this production comes fresh from Menagerie’s world premiere of the play at the Platonov Festival in Voronezh. The play received a stunning reception in Russia, and Menagerie are proud to invite you to this, the UK premiere, at HOTBED.

 ‘...such a simple, dynamic and amazingly 'Russian style' production - stunning’ (

 Fraser Grace is an award-winning playwright whose work has been commissioned by The RSC, BBC and now by the International Platonov Festival in Voronezh, Russia. His play Breakfast with Mugabe was produced by the RSC at Stratford, the West End and in New York.

Full Production by fly no filter

Only When its feathers are grown

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Written and directed by

Lucy Crowe

dates & TIMEs: fri-open exhibition, sat, 11am,12.30pm,2pm

running time: 36 mins
TICKETS: £5, £4 (concessions)

Only When Its Feathers are Grown is a new performance-installation /interactive dance and visual art project, supported by Arts Council England.  Researched in consultation with Menagerie's A Piece of Cake community group, and counselling psychologist Dr Michelle Nyangereka, Only When Its Feathers Are Grown combines b-boying, spoken word and photography to tell the intertwining stories of an adolescent and her mother.

script-in-hand performance by menagerie

love, no country

Written by vanessa ackerman


dates & TIMEs: sat, 11.30am

running time: 80 mins
TICKETS:£5 & £4 (concessions)

A young woman knocks on a stranger's door 'somewhere in Siberia' and opens up the untold story of her grandmother's escape from terror.   A story about the inheritance of loss, how it's passed on, packaged and hidden away.  And once discovered, what do we do with it?

full production by Army of the Arts (Prague)

two comrades

written and Performed by alexandr lyutenskov

directed by ksenia usacheva

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date & TIME: sat, 2pm & sun, 4.30pm

running time: 60 mins
TICKETS: £8, £6 (concessions)

Two unlikely friends share their daily life experiences with each other through letters, until a revolution shakes their country and flips their fates. The formerly repressed worker Zacharovich becomes an influential officer of the Secret Police, and Valdshtein, a lover of music and opposer to the Revolution, has to face the consequences.

With original musical composition by Andrea La Rose, recorded live by  Andrea La Rose and Navid Talebanfard.

work-in-progress by fly no filter

fenland’s finest

written and directed by lucy crowe

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date & TIME: sat, 3.30pm

running time: 30 mins
TICKETS: £4/£3

Fenland's Finest is a work-in-progress solo piece inspired by real events. 

Everyone knows Abel, the dancer, the one that does the moonwalk, nights in town, Jack Daniels, a kebab and home to Fen Ditton.  Everyone knows him, the dancer.  He can do the robot. 

Limbs greying, bolted to a body contorted in agony on a hospital bed. A nurse, uninformed, turned off his morphine drip eight hours ago.  Under his faded Michael Jackson t-shirt, Abel's shoulder crumbles. Abel has sickle cell. Everyone knows Abel. 

Fenland’s Finest explores misunderstandings, bedside manners, and what happens when what you thought defined you, is taken away.

Full production in association with menagerie

one way chorus

BY lucy sheerman and bettina furnee

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date & TIME: sat, 4pm, 5.30pm, 6.45pm

running time: 20 mins
VENUE: boardroom
TICKETS: £4/£3 (concessions)

Two singers perform statements gathered from the public about whether they could travel into space, who they would go with, what they would take with them and what they would regret leaving behind. A piece about love, loss, separation and space travel, taking place on the weekend of the fiftieth anniversary of the first moon landing. 

Full production by vision


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date & Time: Sat, 4.30pm

running time: 45mins
Venue: j2
Tickets: £8/£7 (concessions) 

Diversity is frightening. The playful lives of some abandoned toys are suddenly disrupted by a Voice that forces them to act like empty vessels. Any potential threat to the system is uprooted and all languages are forbidden. In a spiral of psychological and physical violence, the play explores the power of fear. When everything seems lost, nostalgic memories come back to reveal what has been forgotten.

This physical theatre performance is a metaphorical representation of the world we live in, where different identities and language diversity are seen as a threat rather than a strength. An invitation to think out of the box and speak up.

 Featuring: Johanna Tuominen, Dea Rakovac, Anna Spiridonova, Emiliano Troiano

Full production in association with menagerie


written by steve waters

Performed by Michael Bernadin


date & Time: sat, 6pm

running time: 35 mins
Venue: j3
Tickets: £5, £4 (concessions)

It’s the day after whatever Brexit might bring –  a confused businessman is on a mission to Europe to save his career and make sense of how we got here. 

This angry, comic and poignant monologue addresses head on the wounds of Brexit and brings the national divide uncomfortably close to home.

Steve Waters is an acclaimed playwright whose plays include: Limehouse (2017) and Temple (2015) both at the Donmar Warehouse, The Contingency Plan (The Bush, 2009) and many works for Hotbed over the years – most recently The Play About Calais’,2016. His nine-part drama for BBC World Service Fall of the Shah is available on BBC Sounds.

Full Production by acting now and polygon arts in association with the meits research project

polyphonic II, a home the size of our planet


date & TIME: sat, 7.15pm


This Acting Now (Cambridge) present an original theatre performance about the many ways we think of home. This 'Community Performance' has been devised by individuals drawn from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

Witness a collection of stories about stepping outside our comfort zone, searching and exploring, fitting in and falling out. An emotional journey about how we relate to the concept of home, about where we feel we belong or want to be. If home is not necessarily the place where we were born or grew up, then what is it?

pre-edinburgh fringe production in association with the pleasance

The Land of My Fathers and Mothers and Some Other People

presented by rhys slade-jones


date & Time: sat, 8.30pm

running time: 60 mins
Venue: j3
Tickets: £8, £7 (concessions)

A wonderful all-singing, all-dancing re-enactment of what Rhys's Mam wrote down 40 years ago.

A one-man cabaret that mixes stand-up, dance and good old-fashioned sing-along to breathe life into his Mam's stories, and bring Treherbert rugby club back to life.

Playwriting Workshop

led by James mcdermott


date & Time: sun, 10am

running time: 2hrs 30mins
Venue: boardroom
Tickets: £10, £9 (concessions)

Whether you're a new or experienced playwright, come and learn new tools and techniques to help you generate stories, create characters, write dialogue and structure scripts, as well as tips on starting and sustaining a career as a freelance playwright.

This workshop will be led by playwright James McDermott. James's plays include 'Fast Food' starring Jude Law (Lyric Hammersmith), 'Street Life' (Norwich Theatre Royal Stage Two) and 'Rubber Ring' (UK tour) which has been published by Samuel French. James is currently writing new plays for Hampstead Theatre, HighTide, Eastern Angles, Norwich Arts Centre and Norwich Playhouse.

script-in-hand workshop/reading by Night train theatre company


written by alona bach


date & Time: sun, 12.30pm

running time: 90 mins
Venue: j3
Tickets: £5, £4 (concessions)

Epyllion is  a modern adaptation of Vergil's Aeneid through the eyes of Aeneas' son, Ascanius (also called Jules).

 "Jules has lost his mother. She disappeared during the fall of Troy and now she’s haunting his dreams with cups of cold hot chocolate. After seven years as a refugee, Jules feels at sea in a world much bigger than himself: a world filled with storms, war, sailors, promises to the gods, and – of course – his father, Pious Aeneas."

pre-edinburgh fringe festival production presented by half a string



date & Time: sun, 2pm

running time: 60 mins
Venue: j2
Tickets: £8, £7 (concessions)

In this re-imagining of the Greek myth, an intricate puppet struggles to move a colossal, burdensome stone. Doomed with the hopeless task of pushing the rock up a hill, he is condemned to watch it roll back each day. Trapped in an endless cycle, the man wrestles with his pointless existence, cursing the futility of life.

Augmented by hand drawn, earthy animation, Boulder fuses live and digital, all accompanied by live cello, atmospheric voices and original music. Within this intriguing blend emerges fluid transformations of set and scale as this trickster strains at the confines of his situation.

 Boulder supported by The Marlowe and co-commissioned by Warwick Arts Centre & ACE.

 ***** ‘Breath-taking’ Edinburgh Guide


led by fraser grace, including cast members from BLISS


date & Time: sun, 3pm

running time: 90 mins
Venue: j3
Tickets: £10, £9 (concessions)

Join this playwriting workshop focusing on BLISS: a play by one of Menagerie’s Associate Writers, Fraser Grace (Breakfast with Mugabe and Always Orange for the RSC, and for Menagerie: Gifts of War, Frobisher’s Gold and Tongues).

Explore playwriting and adaptation techniques with Fraser and members of the cast of BLISS... Based on a gorgeous short story by the Russian writer Andrey Platonov (1899-1951), the new play BLISS is both a love story and a tale of souls bruised, perhaps beyond repair, that has gone from short story into a play. 

script-in-hand performance

peregrine’s Progress

written by rachel osborne

directed by naz yeni, produced by liam high, music by fran key, Print Design Phoebe Flint

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date & Time: sun, 5.30pm

running time: 90 mins
Venue: j3
Tickets: £5, £4 (concessions)

‘You are a wanderer – a pilgrim – a mighty predator…’

Peregrine is turning 30. After a sustained absence, it is time for her to return to her family home, a place where undertows and rip currents threaten to submerge her. Her little sister is getting married, her mother won’t stop baking and there’s a weird new lodger who only eats cheese strings. Old habits die hard, and as she reconnects with people from her past, Peregrine finds herself navigating landscapes she thought she had left behind.

Peregrine’s Progress is a play in development written by Rachel whilst studying Creative Writing at UEA.

‘I read it through in one session... I was gripped.’ - Juliet Stevenson
'Peregrine's Progress is an impressively written play, creating a vivid world peopled by well-drawn, believable characters' – Papatango
'The character dynamics are vibrant and intriguing' – The Royal Court

Age guidance: 14+

Contains strong language and topics which some may find distressing