In Conversation with Richard Strange

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Writer, musician, composer, nightclub host, curator, actor and adventurer, Richard Strange is known for his work on stage and screen, as well as his band The Doctors of Madness, who have been supported by Joy Division. Unknown, Remembered, our flagship event at this year’s festival takes lyrics from Joy Division’s seminal album, and reworks them in an immersive hybrid of opera, theatre and art installation. We spoke to him about the upcoming event, the festival and his experiences of performing.

Why are you looking forward to Unknown, Remembered?

It is always interesting and exciting to revisit an old piece of work, to take it apart and reassemble it in the hope that it can be improved, updated and recontextualized. The prospect of working with live musicians, a promenade performance and a director coming to the piece for the first time all combine to make this a thrilling adventure.

What is exciting about working with Haroon Mirza?

Haroon is a consummate collaborator…a man who is secure and comfortable in his own discipline and who welcomes others to share their skills to enhance the final outcome, to bring elements to the work that he does not profess to be able to bring. This is the umpteenth time we have worked together, and every time is a joy, an adventure and a lot of fun. I learn from him every time I work with him.

Our festival is highlighting some of the most interesting and unique venues in East London, do you have a favourite place to perform, or any highlights from your career?

I have been lucky to perform all over the world in every type of venue…I  devised and performed a new work for the International Festival of Live Art in Glasgow in 2011, an event in which I was guest curator. The performances took place in a number of railway arches under Glasgow Central Station, and I was lucky enough to work with many heroes of live art, including Richard Wilson, Anne Bean, Liliane Lijn and Haroon Mirza! I have also shown work many times in the Chapel of St Barnabas, Soho Square, and a hidden jewel in the heart of London, for which I hold a particular affection, as I am a founder member of the Homeless Charity that is housed there. As you can see I have been very lucky in my life!

How do you think space can affect performance?

The space affects the performance in every way – architecturally, acoustically, emotionally and experientially. I am very much looking forward to being part of this debut performance at Studio 9294. I hope this performance will haunt the space for many years to come!

What can the audience expect from this event and your performance in the festival?

Probably, for the only time in the history of art, a multi-media installation and live performance that references Samuel Beckett, Ian Curtis and George Friedrich Handel!

See Richard perform in our flagship event Unknown, Remembered across the festival.