Interview: Hackney Showroom’s Sam Curtis Lindsay on Joy and Dissent Festival
We caught up with Sam Curtis Lindsay, co-director of Hackney Showroom and co-curator of new festival Joy and Dissent!
Tell us about ‘Joy and Dissent’. How did the festival come about and what’s the aim?
It’s an exuberant festival of live performance across dance, comedy, drag, spoken word, live art, physical theatre & workshops.
We were inspired by our Associate Artist, Choreographer Malik Nashad Sharpe who is attempting to create a tangible sense of joy as a radical form of protest in his work, particularly in Sad King which is part of the festival. We are attempting to see if laughter, joy and beauty can be alternative forms of dissent and therefore less painful to do. Right?
What are your personal highlights in the festival programme?
Am I allowed to say ALL OF IT? If I had to pick a few that showed the range it would be Boys Club – by Two Tongue Theatre, they are a hilarious comedy duo who do bi-lingual greatness and remind me of French and Saunders. I found Joy in a hopeless place – an evening of poetry – but not like anything you may have experienced before, and Joy Shorts I & II for a fruity slice of bonkers dance and physical theatre.
Tell us about Hackney Showroom’s story. You’ve been open 2 years now! What have been the biggest highs and lows?
We’ve been working out who and what we are and how we engage our audiences over the last two years. A major high is having survived this far. I feeling like we are now hitting our stride in creating an inclusive arts venue where stories are told by voices that are not heard enough. There’s always a degree of experimentation, we encourage playing with the relationship between the art form and the audience, we welcome risks but we keep the quality high and the prices low.
Lows, erm… having rapidly increased the depletion of my healthy hair cells and having not really slept as much as I would have liked.
What have you learnt through running an arts venue in London?
That you are a conduit for the stories people want to tell and you must listen to all of the voices. That you are a gatekeeper and you must know your privilege. That you have to be flexible, patient and passionate. That you have a responsibility to your community. That you must run a commercially viable side business of private parties and weddings if you want to survive in an un-subsidised world.
What or who inspires you in your work in the creative industries?
Nina Lyndon my co-director because she has the stamina of an OX on speed and all of our associate directors and artists who make me want to get out of bed in the morning: Lorna Gayle, Jo McInnes, Zawe Ashton, Lekan Lawal, Brigitte Aphrodite, Quiet Boy, Peter Clements, Oliver Dawe, Malakai Sargeant, Steven Kavuma, Malik Nashad Sharpe and Lucy McCormick.