Special Programming at VAULT Festival 2023

As part of VAULT Festival 2023 we present exciting new work that includes incredibly talented early-career artists from a range of backgrounds and award-winning smash hits that we’re delighted to welcome to VAULT Festival. Below you’ll find out all about the VAULT FIVE, five dazzling new shows from VAULT Festival’s unique development programme for cutting-edge artists. Manchester’s thriving cultural hub HOME comes to VAULT Festival with a thrilling and authentic show from leading Manchester artists Ugly Bucket. Generation V showcases the brightest and boldest work from the UK’s leading creative drama schools East 15 and Fourth Monkey, and brings you the very first production from our very own VAULT Young Company. We’re also proud to present our Picks of Pleasance and Summerhall from this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, along with VAULT Festival’s Civic Award Winners.



Dark Matter

Tatenda Naomi Matsvai
21st – 25th Feb


In an elaborately cosmic attempt to reignite the connection to her ancestral inheritance, Takura blends western ideas of quantum physics and astrology with zimbabwean myth to reconnect with the spirit of her dead grandmother. Despite the disapproval of her family Takura voyages through google in an attempt to connect with the ancestral plane.

Will her Mbuya approve of Takura now? Or should some traditions be left to rest?
Told through spoken word poetry, movement, live looping and animation, ‘dark matter’ is a lyrically playful piece that explores the power of reclaiming and remixing traditions.
Themes: colonisation, queerness in the african diaspora, grief, ritual, afrofuturisum, belonging, spiritual inheritance and cultural cosmologyy.


Caligula by the Sea

Yuxuan Liu
28th Feb – 5th Mar


Caligula is the young, extravagant leader of the Roman Empire. But he is not content with being emperor. He wants to be a god.

When he enters into a destructive friendship and rivalry with the god of the sea, he witnesses power beyond his comprehension. He is left to question his relationships with friends, family, the empire, and himself. Will he maintain his authority as he loosens his grip on reality?

There is an ancient rumour that Caligula waged war against the sea. Will he do the same in this fictional world where gods and monsters exist?

A new devised play that examines themes of power, friendship, and the environment. A fantastical, dramatic, gripping, and not-so-historically-accurate retelling of the tales of the infamous young Roman emperor, Caligula.


Right of Way

Beth Bowden
21st – 26th Feb


‘I don’t remember where I am when I decide to walk. Maybe the idea creeps up on me over time – born somewhere within me the first time I saw the sea.

Like osmosis, the thought it soaks into my skin and lies in wait until I cry it out as a single teardrop. Glistening, shimmering, and whole – it falls out of my subconscious and into my knowledge.

The know, the knowing, that I need to walk.’

RIGHT OF WAY, involving walking the South West Coast Path, and is a semi-autobiographical piece that explores the intimate connection we have with powerful bodies of water, our heritage, and with the women in our lives. Rooted in a place of joy, breath, and deep listening, it is an embodied reflection on chronic illness, accessibility, Young Carers, and radical joy.


No I.D.

Tatenda Shamiso
28th Feb – 5th Mar


Tatenda Shamiso tells the story of his experience as a Black transgender immigrant in the UK. From colossal tasks in the healthcare sector to tiny troubles at the post office, Tatenda searches for valid proof of the joyful life he lives — proof which is hard to find in our current system! It’s a story about a guy stalking himself, tracking his gender transition to prove he’s real, sifting through his childhood, adolescence and early adulthood to form a narrative that will please the many arms of our beloved government. Tender, wacky and a bit surreal, Tatenda uses the music he wrote throughout his first year on testosterone, alongside letters, signatures, and a whole lot of paperwork, to guide us through what it takes to validate Black and queer identities in the eyes of the law.



Beinghuman Ltd / Gaynor O’Flynn
28th Feb – 5th Mar


TIME is the story of a middle-aged female cliché, who uses her post-menopausal superpower to visit her successful friends from her past and reinvent her life.

Written, performed and directed by Gaynor O’Flynn, whose work has featured on BBC, C4, and Canal+, and whose music has featured in films including Argo, Oscar Best Picture 2013 TIME has an award-winning team who also work for the National Theatre, Barbican and Sadlers Wells…

The show uses innovative immersive and virtual production techniques, featuring giant virtual characters, who join Gaynor to play the roles of her bigger, better, brighter friends.

The audience is invited to chant “TIME” via the TIME app. The audience’s chants form a digital choir at the end of the play and create an online digital artwork, as we all call for a “Fairer, Feminist Future”…



Manchester's HOME in London

Good Grief

Ugly Bucket
14th – 19th Mar


Manchester’s thriving cultural hub comes to VAULT Festival as HOME present a thrilling, authentic work from leading Manchester-based artists. Multi award-winning physical comedy company Ugly Bucket process the death of a friend in the only way they know how – through a kinetic maelstrom of outrageous clowning, personal testimony and a thumping techno soundtrack.

‘It’s fast, it’s funny and it plumbs the emotional depths exquisitely… exciting, innovative work’ – The Stage







Generation V


VAULT Young Company
24th – 26th Jan


Expect experimentation and innovation in this devised, completely original, thrilling debut show from the VAULT Young Company. Explore the power and pitfalls of joy through interactive physical theatre and big ideas from the theatre artists of the future.

The VAULT Young Company is VAULT Creative Arts’ year-round ensemble of young theatre makers from underrepresented backgrounds who have not been through professional training and who are interested in creating exciting, experimental new work.




Post Sex Spagbol

Thistle & Rose Theatre
31st Jan – 3rd Feb


After being handed a job as counsellor and sex-ed teacher, Krissy purposely leads a classroom full of goggle-eyed-girls down a motorway of mistakes. Fuelled by her own flaws, at a religious all-girls boarding school, she shaves away any expectation of a perfect role model. With a desire for destruction, Krissy intentionally feeds bad advice to the hormone-riddled girls, from questionable kinks, to the swimming pool’s secret-sex-shack, while being forced to face the femininity that the world around her has trained her to hate. Told by a three women ensemble, this comedic story of sex, love and spagbol explores self-love, womanhood and growing up … as well as, vibrators, funerals, the twelve disciples, piss play and THAT mint shower gel.



Insecta Theatre
4th-5th Feb


The Internet has finally branched out from our screens and made its way to the stage, and we couldn’t be happier! All of your favourite things are here; violence, xenophobia, porn and more! It’s as if you are still on your laptop at 3 a.m. with burnt out retinas wondering where your passport is! And isn’t that wonderful?

Meet Andrew, The Internet has asked him to make a show for you about everyone’s favourite topic… The Internet! And he’s dying to show it to you. But when under pressure who knows what he’ll try and do.

This volatile one-man sketch show uses projection, satire, technology, and comedy to delve into the deepest recesses of CyberSpace in search of anything remotely human in our world of wires and code.


The Magdalena Confessions

Vandens Karta Ensemble
4th-5th Feb


“I have been stabbed fifteen times and lived! I can piss as far as the eyes can see, I can fit inside a shoe box my leg is robot and my boobs shoot lasers. I have deepest throat in all of the Northern hemisphere. One time, I made a man cry JUST BY LOOKING AT HIM. But…I have never been in love…”

Magdalena Confessions deals with dark themes with a startling sense of humour. As she herself tells us, Magdalena is a femme de joie (a woman of joy) and is able to navigate pain and suffering with a disarming optimism and grittiness. It is a story about loving yourself, and a celebration of what it means to be a woman in the modern world. The show is a blend of drag, stand up, clowning, and physical theater traditional storytelling and hilarious audience interaction.


Stacey and Rose

Stacey and Rose
31st Jan-1st Feb


Stacey and Rose have been friends FOREVER.
They’ve made a promise (a pinky promise) that this will never change.
But best friends forever is a difficult promise to keep…

Stacey and Rose have watched all the films. All of them. Many times.
The one consistent thing that films have taught them is that friendship is forever. No matter how much friends fight and argue, they always come back together in some sentimental, cheesey, underscored reunion.

But when Stacey and Rose’s friendship is at stake can they put their differences aside in time for the big emotional finale?


My Last Two Brain Cells

Joe Pike & Tom Hazelden
4th-5th Feb


Gary is in an accident and his condition is worsening by the minute.
The only people capable of saving him are his last two brain cells.
Unfortunately, they’re completely incapable of getting anything done.
Faced with their own mortality, they must try their best to keep everything afloat.


The Dissent

Themis Theatre
2nd-3rd Feb


Icarus, Ariadne and Phaedra are in hell. Literally. Now they’re uniting to smash the patriarchy for a second shot at life and asking why, two thousand years later, the same questions are being asked of them.

In a retelling of three intertwined Greek myths, Icarus (now a young woman) has fallen from the sky to her death. In a trial to determine where she’ll spend eternity, Icarus is forced to examine the events which led to her flight and defend her choices. But how can she give her defence when history, the justice system and language itself is not designed for women?

Playful, provocative and poetic at times, The Dissent fuses mythology with prose and parody to explore injustice, the language of the patriarchy and the role it plays in gender-based violence.


The Art of Saying Goodbye

Elsewhere Productions
4th Feb


A physical, poetic story of friends coming to terms with leaving each other, leaving people that have become home, as each move on to their next stages in life.

Elsewhere Productions are proud to present their first ensemble performance at the Vaults Festival – poignant and “visually stunning”, The Art Of Saying Goodby will make you laugh and break your heart. Through physical theatre, spoken word, and poetry, this piece will guide you through life, love, and loss. Its about grief, and what that does to our bodies. Its about people, and what we mean to each other. This is a piece about how we connect to the world, and with each other, when faced with saying goodbye to what we love.

Come join us in this pivotal journey as we explore how we process and cope when faced with life’s most difficult crossroads. Striving to find silver linings in heartbreaking moments and learning to accept, that sometimes, what will be will be.


Honour Bound

Zahra Jassi
7th-10th Mar

Simran: a young Indian woman.
Her boyfriend: Black.
Her family: disapproving.
Her friend: honour-killed.

After a tube journey reflecting on the great philosophical phenomena of the world: the trolley problem, whether sandwiches should be cut down the middle or diagonally, and the validity of tonic water, as well as the friend she lost to honour violence, Simran must answer some life-changing questions: Will she and her boyfriend be able to live happily and safely together? Or will the looming threat of violence and leaving everything they know behind in London cause them to crumble?

Honour-Bound is a one-woman show written and performed by a British South Asian artist, and realised by British Black and South Asian artists. It explores the anti-Blackness that is often found in South Asian communities, the devastating effects it can have, and asks the question: what would you sacrifice for love?



azza-har theatre
5th Feb


Gaia should be sleeping, it is past their bedtime. Instead, they wander through their home at night. It is in the dark when their imagination is most alive.

Reeling through images and memories; muddling present, past and future; human and non-human; real and imagined, HOME, is a journey through a sleepless night. A messy, musical, wordless meditation on the fragility of that which we call “home”.

HOME combines mime, puppetry and elements of clown. It takes inspiration from a range of sources including Kafka and German expressionism, magic realism and Mediterranean folklore. In its creation, it makes use of found objects and recycled materials to create theatre that is highly visual, playful, peculiar and rough around the edges.

This is the debut of azza-har theatre, a visual theatre company formed by international artists based in the UK.

Co-produced by azza-har theatre and Fourth Monkey.



VAULT Festival's Pick of Summerhall

Intruder | Intruz

Remi Rachuba
28th – 29th Jan


Following his dream, Remi moves to Scotland to become an actor. Ugly and a vicious attack almost ruins his life…

Shortlisted for Adrian Pagan Playwriting Award at the King’s Head Theatre, and on the final shortlist in the BBC Writersroom Drama

Rachuba’s writing is heart-wrenching, unique and brutal. With elements of black humour and clever twists, the play keeps the audience transfixed, to witness a moving portrayal of acceptance and the ultimate forgiveness.






VAULT Festival's Pick of Pleasance

Liv Ello: SWARM

Liv Ello
7th Feb – 10h Feb


After a hit run at Edinburgh Fringe, SWARM returns to VAULT Festival as the ‘Pick of the Pleasance.’

A response to when David Cameron referred to migrants as a “swarm”, SWARM asks: are migrants seeking refuge in the UK really the toxic demographic pervading British society, or is it us?

From ‘anarchist clown’ and theatre-maker Liv Ello, the director of the Edinburgh Fringe and Soho Theatre smash-hit, Frankie Thompson’s CAttS (Time Out’s Top 10 Comedy Picks of The Fringe, ★★★★ Guardian, ★★★★ Time Out, ★★★★★ To Do List, ★★★★★ Funny Women)




VAULT Festival Civic Awards

VAULT Festival Excellence in Accessibility Award Winner: Part of the Main

Part of the Main are bringing a trio of captivating tales to VAULT Festival.

Bloody Mary: Live!

Co-Produced by Part of the Main and Part of the Night
24th – 29th Jan

Teen Queen Mary Tudor takes to the mic to rehab her “bloody” image. Bloody Mary tackles the drama every #queenager deals with: divorced parents, sibling rivalry and religious purges (…oops).


The Tinker

14th – 19th Feb

Frank and Evelyn open their rural home to a stranger in need. The Tinker has a way with words and a talent for fixing broken things–but at what price?


All By Myself

Part of the Main & Jessica Bickel-Barlow
7th – 12th Feb

POV: you’re a vlogger. A productive (but chill!) DIYing vlogger. It’s the end of the world. What do you do when everyone’s left the internet?





VAULT Festival Excellence in Sustainability Award Winner

My Lover was a Salmon in the Climate Apocalypse

28th Feb – 5th Mar


This gig gets weird. Join us, and return to being a fish.

Humanity’s ruined the ecosystem, but humanity’s just a dodgy side branch of fish evolution. The solution’s clear – and that’s where the salmon come in.

Fin’s climate anxiety culminates in him thinking he’s a salmon, onstage, whilst his girlfriend and bandmate look on in fishy horror. This could be a climate revolution.

But being a salmon would put a certain stress on everyone’s personal lives. And actually that’s a good question to ask: can our relationships survive this overwhelming timeline we’re in at all? (Features salmon.)

With live trad music, FX pedal soundscapes, global industrial food production, colonialism, fish farming, and probably inevitable ecological destruction?




VAULT Festival Excellence in Inclusion Award Winner

Best in Class

Hosted by Sian Davies
18th Mar


A crowd funded profit sharing show that champions the rich talent of working class comedians. Winner of Edinburgh Comedy Awards Panel Prize 2022. Sponsored by waste grounds, knock off trainers, spam, weed, the unions, crap schools, bunking off, failed MOT’s, failed GCSE’s, bus stops, payday loans, fierce mums, tired dads and empowerment.

Hosted by award winning comedian Sian Davies (“Compelling and distinctive” The Scotsman) and featuring a mixed bill of the very best new comic voices, who just so happen to be from working class backgrounds.

Best In Class alumni have gone on to achieve fantastic successes within their comedy careers. Graduates of the project have had nominations for Best Comedy Show at the Edinburgh Fringe Awards, created shows for BBC Radio 4, signed for agents, gained TV work, created sell out shows and had critically acclaimed work.
Join the revolution, it’s great fun!


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