For over two years, Sheffield’s Theatre Delicatessen occupied the former Woolworths on The Moor like a radical autonomous zone, a space to develop new performances that crossed all boundaries.

Audiences were treated to socio-political experiments, beautiful music and dance, thought-provoking drama and comedy, and completely weird stuff that seemed to create new genres. Many events were pay-as-you-feel. It even had a radical bookshop, Jepps, squatting in a corner. It was a creative open door for dozens of new collaborations. People got together to share projects and ideas about the world, dreams for a better future, amid the realities of post-crisis Sheffield.

The reputation of Theatre Deli became massive and respected, but the venue was due for redevelopment. Leaving time sadly arrived in June, but all is not lost. After a summer of discontented searching, they’ve found a new home on Eyre Street, St. Mary’s Gate, next to Office Outlet (Need a clue? It used to be Staples). It’s another ‘meanwhile use’ lease, but not a mere pop-up. They’ve got two years guaranteed and the possibility of an extension.

This new place is a well-deserved improvement – and it has heating. During August and September, the exciting challenge is repurposing a huge, hanger-like main space, creating a cool cafe bar, kitchen and further small studio and rehearsal spaces, one with mirror walls.

“We’re still punk, still Sheffield and we’re fighting on,” said organisers Sarah and Seb. They’re working alongside part-time staff and volunteers, as well as architecture students thanks to a University of Sheffield project called Live Works. They hope to make this off-the-Moor location into a leading venue for theatre makers and the wider community, while keeping existing links with the likes of Crisis, Age UK and LGBT Sheffield.

The first draft programme opens with a week of performances from 20-27 October. It’s a high-powered start, featuring Forced Entertainment, Sheffield’s legendary experimental theatre company which has shaken stages from the USA to Japan. Wikipedia lists their stunning line-up of work going right back to 1984. They’re joined by Third Angel, which has a similarly respected reputation for radical new ideas. In Bed With My Brother will present We Are Ian, a show based on the 80s illegal acid house rave scene. Dance as a political act – just what we need. An immersive Christmas show will complete the year with partying like it’s 2017.

Ideas can evolve through words, through performance. If our messed-up society is ever going to improve it’ll be because people at the grassroots start talking to each other, and today’s socially-conscious theatre can open up that discussion. It may not be everyone’s thing, but it offers the sheer joy of being with others for real-time performance, whether scripted or spontaneous, happening in the moment. If you share this enthusiasm, you’re welcome to pop in and have a look, and maybe volunteer to help. Theatre Delicatessen is back!

live-works.org
theatredelicatessen.co.uk

NETHER EDGE FESTIVAL
15-24 September | Various venues
This is the third annual festival highlighting Sheffield’s small but vibrant Nether Edge district. It features a range of events across multiple venues in a programme run entirely by community volunteers. Attractions from music to Asian food, massage to beer. The final celebration is a party in Chelsea Park.
netheredgefestival.co.uk

DIVERSITY FEST
Sun 8 October | 1-9pm | Hagglers Corner
A free one-day extravaganza which packs dozens of performances into three stages in the delightful setting of Hagglers Corner, inviting and celebrating people of all ages, abilities, genders, sexualities, communities and ethnicities. Needless to say, all welcome.
diversityfest.wordpress.com/diversity-fest-2017

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