Hull’s Heads Up Festival returns on March 8, with a heady mix of the most exciting, challenging theatre and peformance. The festival runs until March 18 and also includes special festival preview production Spirits of the Sea (February 14 and 15).

Heads Up is produced by Ensemble 52 in partnership with Battersea Arts Centre and sees a host of shows heading to Hull as part of BAC’s Collaborative Touring Network.

The festival starts with a bang with the UK premiere of a collaboration between Hull-based Indigo Moon and France’s Compagnie Via Cane – Shakespeare versus Molière (March 8-12 at Scrapstore Studios) – which promises a mighty, original battle that casts an eye over the historic rivalry which binds together England and France. The two puppetry companies from either side of the Channel will draw upon the genius of Shakespeare, Molière, Racine and other great playwrights for this bi-lingual puppet show aimed at older audiences.

From March 9-11, the Tom Penn and Battersea Arts Centre co-production Neverland will send 1-3 year olds and their accompanying adults on an immersive journey inspired by JM Barrie. Taking place within a tented den in Hull’s Central Library, audiences will discover a magical world to explore and play in, where they will sail through the sky and dive deep beneath the ocean.

Multi-award winning Theatre Ad Infinitum thrilled audiences at Heads Up Festival in 2014 with Ballad of the Burning Star and return to Hull with new production Bucket List (March 10 & 11), co-commissioned by Battersea Arts Centre, Bristol Old Vic, The Lowry and The North Wall. Bucket List is the powerful story of one Mexican woman’s fight for justice, told using physical storytelling, live instrumental music and song.

Bucket List is presented in the new Ferens Studio by Heads Up Festival as part of Hull City of Culture 2017’s Women of the World (WOW) Festival, and WOW will also include a showing of Blazon’s new piece of work Icons (March 11). Icons, directed by Rachel Bagshaw, co-created with Laura Martin-Simpson and produced by No Ordinary Experience, is a bold modern re-telling of the Amazon warrior myths, which pieces fractured stories together to re-build an extraordinary timeless world of sisters, survivors and strength.

On March 12, television comedy writing legend Neil Shand will make a rare public appearance, in conversation with writer and critic Louis Barfe (biographer of Les Dawson and British Light Entertainment). During his illustrious career, Shand wrote for and worked with some of the greatest names in British comedy history. From Spike Milligan to David Frost, from The Two Ronnies to Bob Monkhouse, Shand has been at the heart of some of the best-loved comedy shows ever made. The evening will include a host of anecdotes and also clips of some of the writer’s most famous TV moments.

Shannon Yee’s Reassembled, Slightly Askew (March 16-18) is a story of terror, discovery, humour, but above all, hope and is an autobiographical, audio-based artwork about Shannon’s experience of falling critically ill with a rare brain infection and her journey of rehabilitation. The production, which will see a hospital ward created within Hull’s Central Library, makes us of three-dimensional sound technology, causing listeners to feel they are inside Shannon’s head, viscerally experiencing her descent into coma, brain surgeries, early days in the hospital and reintegration into the world.

Heads Up’s eighth season draws to a close on March 18 with the return of Will Dickie to the festival. Last seen in Hull with his amazing one-man outdoor performance Team of the Decades, Dickie presents The Rave Space, which will see live art meet club culture, and includes a performance and DJ set. The Rave Space is one DJ’s search for freedom in the breaks, tripping on ecstasies, lost in beats and will take place in the iconic surroundings of the city’s New Adelphi Club.

Heads Up Festival will take place twice this year and the ninth festival is already scheduled for October 2017.

For more information about the festival and to book tickets visit

Ensemble 52

Ensemble 52 is a theatre company based in Hull, UK. The company creates new work and performance pieces in found spaces, public places, abandoned warehouses and unconventional, unloved, disused property. We also make work for traditional theatre auditoriums and do not dislike velvet-covered seats. Our recent productions include Revolutions, The Whitsun Weddings and The Devil’s Chord.

Collaborative Touring Network

Formed in 2013, The Collaborative Touring Network (CTN) is a partnership between Battersea Arts Centre and eight national partners. Our vision is a nation where everyone has inspiring art and culture on their doorstep.

Over the past four years, the Collaborative Touring Network has produced, presented and promoted diverse events to feed an appetite for culture in communities across the country. Our partners on this project are producing teams based in in Hull, Darlington, Gloucester, Thanet, Torbay, Wigan, Peterborough and Medway.

As a network, we support and develop artists locally and deliver two festivals a year packed with inspiring touring work, home-grown talent, music, workshops & feasts.

Occupying parks, community centres, boxing gyms and nightclubs; the network imagines new contexts for performances that inspire audiences and artists alike. To date we have presented work in over 170 different spaces.

Shows that have toured with CTN previously include Christopher Brett Bailey’s This is How We Die, Theatre Ad Infinitum’s Ballad of the Burning Star, Victoria Melody’s Major Tom, The Paper Cinema’s Odyssey and Touretteshero’s Backstage in Biscuitland.

Shows touring as part of the Spring 2017 season of festivals include: Theatre Ad Infinitum’s multi award-winning Bucket List, Tom Penn and Battersea Arts Centre’s Co-Production Neverland, and Shannon Yee’s Reassembled, Slightly Askew.

“Growing a future model of arts engagement that could flourish all over the country and transform the opportunities available to both artists and audiences.” – The Guardian

“An inspiring project, marrying the best of the subsidised sector with true grassroots innovation and work.” – Exeunt

The Collaborative Touring Network is supported by Arts Council England Strategic Touring Fund, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Garfield Weston Foundation.

Battersea Arts Centre

Described as ‘Britain’s most influential theatre’ (The Guardian), at the heart of Battersea Arts Centre’s mission is a process called Scratch, that places the artist and audience in a creative dialogue to develop new ideas.

Battersea Arts Centre delivers an extensive programme of activity each year that attracts over 100,000 people, for theatre productions and participatory workshops, weddings, tea dances, community support groups and corporate events.

Women of the World Festival

WOW HULL takes place over the weekend of 10 – 12 March 2017, inviting women, men, girls & boys to pose the question, why is gender equality taking so long to achieve?

WOW HULL is part of the global movement of festivals founded by Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of London’s Southbank Centre. Taking inspiration from the conversations with the city’s women, WOW HULL features talks, music, comedy, debate and performance to celebrate International Womens Day.

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