Menagerie Theatre Company's Hotbed Festival of new writing returns to Cambridge Junction

A Menagerie Theatre Company production.

A Menagerie Theatre Company production. - Credit: Andrey Parfyonov

A theatrical treat is in store at Cambridge Junction next week with the 19th Hotbed Festival. 

The festival of new writing returns to the Clifton Way arts centre following last year’s cancellation.

For Hotbed 2021, Cambridge-based Menagerie Theatre Company has pledged to help the theatre industry 'build back better' by giving more opportunities than ever to emerging writers.

Running from Friday, July 16 to Sunday, July 18, the festival will include the premiere production of Love, No Country by rising star Vanessa Ackerman.

An intergenerational piece about memory and storytelling which takes us from Soviet Russia to present-day London, Love, No Country is Vanessa’s first full-length play.

Steve Waters will also return to the festival with a filmed version of his new play, Under the Weather, and a talk to launch his book A Life in 16 Films…how cinema made a playwright.

Steve is currently under commission with the National Theatre and his diptych of plays on climate change, The Contingency Plan, is set to be revived later this year by the Donmar Warehouse and Theatr Clwyd.

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Alongside these will be Menagerie’s Covid Connections, a series of short monologues newly commissioned for the festival.

Acclaimed writers from across the UK will offer a perspective on each month of the past year.

Also reflecting on the pandemic, Abi Zakarian’s new play will be performed for only three audience members at a time – in parts of Cambridge Junction that are not usually open to the public.

The festival will also see two workshop performances and three readings of plays by writers on Menagerie’s Young Writers’ programme.

Co-artistic director Patrick Morris has been working with these emerging writers over the course of
several months to create plays reflecting on the theme of history.

In addition to this, the festival welcomes an exciting slate of guest productions, including dance show Finest from Cambridge-based company Fly No Filter, and Hannah Maxwell’s I, AmDram, which comes to the festival following successful runs at Edinburgh Fringe 2019 and Adelaide Fringe 2020.

Other productions include Shades of Pemberley by Elizabeth Moynihan, which premieres at Hotbed having been postponed in 2020, and split.7, a one-man show written and performed by James Bloor, who has previously appeared in Hulu’s historical drama series Barkskins and Christopher Nolan movie Dunkirk.