Intriguing news reaches the Stan’s Cafe office: LIFT (London International Festival of Theatre) are moving their offices into the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts). It’s a bold move and potentially a significant statement about how the festival’s new-ish director, Mark Ball, sees the future.
After years in the East End where it fed off regional development type money, the festival now returns to The Mall at the very heart of the city (much more convenient for the Queen to pop in). What makes the move especially startling is that, after a period in the late 80s and early 90s, when performance was programmed by Michael Morris and then Lois Keiden and the ICA was the place to go in London to see contemporary theatre, it totally lost interest in the form. I’ve got a vague memory that Toshiba sponsored the venue and Ekow Eshun took over as director and explicitly said that the ICA was going to be focused on the digital now and that there would be no more performance. I may be wrong but the truth of the matter is that the ICA has been off the agenda for interesting theatre for well over a decade.
And so the intrigue, are the ICA just after a bit of LIFT rent or will their cohabitation mean more than that? Mark has a strong interest in Live Art and the digital realm, as can be seen in his 10 years directing the Fierce Festival, so it could be that he is moving LIFT to the ICA aesthetically as well as physically. What would be a real coup is if Mr. Ball has pulled off some ill disguised Trojan Horse strategy and is able to open the ICA’s doors to theatre types again.
Watch that space (but not until 2012 when the next LIFT festival is due).