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The Blue Elephant Theatre never ever does things by

Please see our past programme section for reviews of past shows.


Special Skills Workshop Facilitator: Call Out

Date published
Friday 8 February 2019

Friday 8th February 2019

Are you an artist with a special skill?

Do you have experience of delivering workshops in your skill?

Do you have experience of working with young people?

If yes, then the Blue Elephant Young People’s Theatre are looking for you!

WHO ARE WE? We are a youth theatre funded by Children in Need providing free drama workshops for young people aged 7-18years in the local Southwark area.
WHAT DO WE DO? Every term we invite specialist practitioners in to share their skills with our young people, who will then use these to create their own devised pieces to perform at the end of each term.
WHEN DO WE DO IT? We run sessions every Saturday 10-6pm. The day has 4 sessions for 3 age groups:

Group A1 (7-11yrs)- 10-11am
Group A2 (7-11yrs)- 11.15-12.15am
Group B (11-14yrs)- 1.30-3.30pm
Young Company (14+ yrs)- 4-6pm

HOW TO APPLY: Email Louise ( with details of your skills/experience/ DBS/ and why you’d like to work with us. Please be succinct. This is a one off paid opportunity.

The Blue Elephant Theatre welcomes applications from all sections of the community regardless of race, colour, ethnic or national origins, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, disability or religious beliefs.


The Balancing Act: Call-out for submissions

Date published
Tuesday 15 January 2019

Our window for submissions is now open for The Balancing Act Scratch Night; held in the run up to International Women’s Day in March to celebrate the achievements of women.

This is a call out for emerging artists based in or with a strong connection to Southwark, who have material that they would like to showcase which responds or relates to the aims and impetus of International Women’s Day. The Balancing Act is particularly interested in work along the themes of taking action against gender inequality around the world #balanceforbetter. The Balancing Act will take place in Blue Elephant Theatre; this is an opportunity for you to try out new ideas in front of an audience and get a bit of feedback to help you develop your work in the future.

We are particularly seeking artists at the very early stages of their career. Artists of all genders are welcome to apply.

The details
Date: Tuesday 5th March (8pm-10pm)
Location: Blue Elephant Theatre, 59a Bethwin Road, SE5 0XT
Expense: Partial travel bursaries available (£10 per act regardless of number of people involved)
Space: There will be a rehearsal space available on Monday 4th from 10- 6pm and before Tech rehearsals on Tuesday 5th to be shared amongst all acts. Tech will begin at approximately 3.30pm.

Tickets will be free and the audience will be asked to share feedback.

- The work has to be performative but can be of any genre (new writing, live art, devised, dance, poetry, rap, magic etc.)
- It must be work in progress, no longer than 15 minutes, with minimal technical requirements.
- The main performance space will be the Blue Elephant Theatre, and so selected work will be chosen to suit this space.

To apply
Please write no more than two pages including the following information:
- Name and contact details
- Location
- Brief summary of the work you would like to present
- Technical Requirements (as much as you know/think at this point)
- Brief summary about you and your previous work (links and examples are welcome)

Please apply by 12pm on Friday 1st February
Please send applications to: Elizabeth Adejimi, Trainee Producer & Events Manager at
If you have any questions about the event please do not hesitate to ask via email.


New Artist Opportunities at Blue Elephant

Date published
Tuesday 27 November 2018

Blue Elephant is offering further support to emerging artists in the new year - one project commission and two residencies.

The brief for the commission has been set by our Youth Board and allows for two weeks of paid work for four artists in March. It will be a very collaborative process with the Blue Elephant. To apply and for more information, please download the BET Commission Information & Application Form. The deadline for applications is December 16th at noon.

We are also offering two projects week-long residencies at Blue Elephant in February. To apply and for more information, please download the BET Residency Information & Application Form. The deadline for applications is December 13th at noon.

These opportunities are open to emerging UK-based artists only.

These opportunities are possible thanks to funding from Arts Council England and Southwark Council.


Call Out for Mistletoe and Try! Scratch Night by Blue Elephant Theatre

Date published
Wednesday 7 November 2018

Scratch that Itch in time for Christmas!
Blue Elephant Theatre bare good tidings with an end of year scratch night. Taking place in Blue Elephant Theatre, this is an opportunity for you to try out new ideas in front of an audience and get a bit of feedback to help you develop your work in the future. This is an open call out for emerging artists who have material they would like to try-out. We particularly encourage artists from Southwark to apply but we also welcome those from all other boroughs.

The details
Date: Wednesday 5th December (8pm-10pm)
Location: Blue Elephant Theatre
Expense: Partial travel bursaries available (£10 per act)
Space: Due to our very busy schedule during this festive season, rehearsal space availability will be extremely limited. Any rehearsal space offered will be weekday daytimes. Tech rehearsals will be on December 5th from approximately 3.30pm.
Tickets will be free and the audience will be asked to share feedback.

- The work has to be performative but can be of any genre (new writing, live art, devised, dance, Poetry etc).
- It must be work in progress, no longer than 15 minutes, with minimal technical requirements.
- The main performance space will be the Blue Elephant Theatre, and so selected work will be chosen to suit this space.

To apply
Please write no more than two pages including the following information:
- Name and contact details
- Location
- Brief summary of the work you would like to present
- Technical Requirements (as much as you know/think at this point)
- Brief summary about you and your previous work (links and examples are welcome)

Please apply by Thursday 15th November (hurry!)
Please send applications to:
If you have any questions about the event please do not hesitate to ask via email.


Work with Blue Elephant Theatre!

Date published
Tuesday 4 September 2018

As the Blue Elephant gears up to celebrate its twentieth year in 2019, now is a very exciting time to join the energetic and busy theatre.

We're looking for:

Deputy Theatre Manager
This is a vital role within the organisation, providing essential support to the safe and efficient running of the theatre as an organisation, venue and community hub.
Download Deputy Theatre Manager Information and Application Form
Closing date for applications: 10am 1st October (Interviews second week of October)

Please note interview dates are indicative and may be subject to change.


Interview with Trojan Horse co-writer Helen Monks

Date published
Wednesday 18 July 2018

In just one week, LUNG come back to our stage with the Edinburgh Preview of Trojan Horse, that follows the real life stories of Muslim teachers and governors who were accused of plotting extremism in Birmingham schools. We sat down with co-writer Helen Monks to talk about the show and why it is so important for now.

1) Describe the show in one sentence.

2) What is your favourite thing about the show?
The amount it stretches your brain and challenges your perceptions. You will be pushed, pulled and outraged. As well as a play, this is a piece of investigative journalism. Ultimately, my favourite thing about this show is how much it uncovers.

3) Who should come to see this show?
This is a story that affects all of us. So anyone and everyone! But brummies are especially welcome.

4) Why is this show important for now?
In the current culture of prevent and 'British Values', we need to be challenging the narratives that are put out, particularly about Muslims. The UK is becoming increasingly divided, and Trojan Horse is just one example of how a story can be hijacked by the media, and certain voices get left out. We believe there is so much power in retelling these stories, with new voices and new perspectives at the forefront.

Trojan Horse will run on Thursday 26th & Friday 27th July at 8pm at Blue Elephant Theatre. Tickets available now:


Refugee Week and beyond at the Blue Elephant

Date published
Monday 18 June 2018

As Refugee Week begins, the Blue Elephant is delighted to be taking part in the celebration of the contribution refugees make to the UK and to join in encouraging better understanding between communities, both this week and beyond.

On Friday June 22nd, the Blue Elephant is hosting A Very Elephant Afternoon from 3.30pm! Our Participation Officer Louise Dickinson is running a fun drama session for all the family. There’ll be the opportunity to play games, make up stories, laugh and have fun together. This workshop is particularly aimed at families from refugee backgrounds but all are welcome. Find out more here.

On July 1st, Maya Productions’ The Croydon Avengers asks how three teenage refugees can become the saviours of a doomed nation? A freak accident at Gatwick deportation centre gives three friends powers beyond their wildest dreams. This trio of masked vigilantes send Croydon’s crime rate plummeting, but Regina Rump and her media proclaim them to be a threat to British identity! Maya Productions find stories that don’t often get told and look for new ways of telling them. The Croydon Avengers/strong> is a vibrant, action packed and funny new play for young people aged 8-14, written by Oladipo Agboluaje.

Finally, Flugelman Productions’ Boxman offers another perspective, as Reice Weathers plays Ringo in this one man show by Daniel Keene. Displaced from his homeland, Ringo is sheltering in a cardboard box in an inner city park. Inside his makeshift ‘home’, Ringo lives a life rich with stories and songs of a childhood far away, a family tragically lost and the complicated promise of a new beginning. Flugelman Productions will be collecting for the Refugee Council after their performances from July 4th to 6th at 8pm.

★★★★★ This is my pick of the Fringe by a country mile. If I could give it six stars, I would. – Simon Lovat, Broadway Baby at Brighton Fringe 2018

Booking for all three of these events is still available. If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to get in touch by calling us on 020 7701 0100 or emailing


Award Nominated Local Performer Brings His Latest Show to Blue Elephant Theatre

Date published
Wednesday 30 May 2018

Brain Rinse is a madcap, bizarre comedy sketch show that tackles all the big themes in life. But what makes this show really different is that local comedy actor Mike Raffone doesn’t perform to the audience; he performs with the audience in the ultimate immersive show with a cast of thousands. There’s war, mountaineering, a sex cult where the members are not allowed to touch each other, and a spiritual journey to discover one’s ‘inner ninja’. It’s all in there in this one-man show, which makes its London début at Blue Elephant Theatre in June.

You may know Walworth based Mike as the compère and brains behind the area’s monthly Cabaret Night Cabaret Rinse, but Mike has spent the last few years developing work for theatre audiences and Brain Rinse is the result. As an artist, he relishes facing new challenges and has always wanted to move his work into different areas. This cabaret promoter and ex-street entertainer has, however, not forgotten his roots. The show retains all of the energy, edginess and unpredictability of his former work and this is what makes it unique. Many comedy shows have interactive elements but this experienced and accomplished performer has decided to go the whole hog and do the whole thing not to, but with the audience.

Sure, the idea of joining in may fill you with more dread than the thought of two hours in the dentist's chair with Dr Josef Mengele, but you are in safe hands with Mike. He has over three decades experience, entertaining audiences all over the world with his interactive street comedy and cabaret.“Now I know”, says Mike, “that asking the audience to do the entire show is a big ask, but I’ve learned that if the audience are treated with respect they will almost always give more than they imagine they ever could.”

And as for performing his show at Blue Elephant Theatre, Mike says he’s really excited at the prospect. “It’s amazing to have such a vibrant, energetic and interesting theatre just down the road from where I live. Not only that, it’s a theatre that’s committed to putting on new and fresh work. Not many places outside of Central London can boast that, so it was the obvious choice when I was thinking about theatre venues for my latest show. It’s a chance to reach out to local audiences who would like this unique and fun comedy theatre show.”

You can catch Brain Rinse at Blue Elephant Theatre, 59a Bethwin Road, SE5 0XT on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd June at 8pm. Tickets are £10 (£8.50 concessions), £7.50 for Southwark residents and there is an earl bird offer of £6.25 if you book before 28th May. The show lasts about in hour with no interval.

‘I guarantee you will be in safe hands if you turn up to the hilarious Brain Rinse. He (Mike Raffone) had a fantastic presence on stage and supreme ability to get the best out of us all.’ Stephanie Billen, Buxton Festival Review

‘Top notch audience psychology, all hail!’ John Fleming


Talking Prune with Serena Flynn

Date published
Monday 12 February 2018

We caught up with Serena Flynn ahead of her latest work in progress showing, Prune in Progress.

1) What’s your favourite thing about your show?
This creature I've created (Prune) doesn't follow social rules and norms, so she's permitted to do and say things that I (as Serena) would never have the guts to. She's the product of a break up, so she's shriveled and bitter but also brave and fearless. She luxuriates in the drama and pain of heartbreak in a way that I never would have allowed myself to do.

2) What’s the best thing about Meadow’s show?
Meadow is pure pink, fluffy joy - she's an all-singing, all-dancing entertainer.

3) Who should come see your show?
Anyone who's ever had their heart broken.

4) The important question: cats or dogs?!
Dogs. Obviously. No comparison.

5) If you could describe your show in one sentence, what would it be?
Anarchic, grotesque and a bit nuts.

Split Bill: Meadow by Meadow and Serena Flynn: Prune in Progress shows on 22nd and 23rd February. More information and book tickets here:


Our Resident Artists for 2018!

Blue Elephant Theatre
Date published
Wednesday 15 November 2017

Blue Elephant Theatre Announces Artists for 2018 Residencies

Blue Elephant Theatre is delighted to announce the artists chosen to be part of its inaugural residencies scheme. The residencies will support the research and development of four new pieces of theatre, chosen from nearly two hundred applications. These are possible thanks to a grant from the Idlewild Trust, which seeks to improve opportunities for young professionals working creatively in the arts at an early stage in their careers.

Decoupage Collective - @decoupageco
Découpage Collective explore the territories between the conscious and the subconscious, working with new writing, live music and physical performance practices to create theatre that is intimate, visceral and poetic. Outside deconstructs a singular character into multiple beings who together try to articulate the complexity of sex workers condition and the perception of such condition by themselves. This sensitive subject matter will be explored through music, images and writing drawn from statements from these women.

Grace Duggan - @GraceDuggan
Grace Duggan is a working class artist, born in East London who recently graduated from East 15 Acting School. Driven by local communities and their diversity, Grace has previously worked with vulnerable adults, children and young people. The Average Project interrogates our cultural double standards of 'body image' as we enter a new era of how our body image affects ourselves, our class, our diversity and our outlook on others. If we objectify men the same way we’ve objectified women, what does this mean for our future?

Monument Theatre Company - @MonumentTC
Monument Theatre Company is influenced by the work of Simon McBurney, Jacque Lecoq and Philippe Gaulier. They aim to bring untold stories to life with passion, vision and imagination. Windrush Square takes us back to 1980's, Brixton. When a young black man dies in police custody, racial tensions are at an all-time high. At the heart of this story we meet a young couple in an interracial relationship whose love blossoms as the tension increases. How do their families deal with this? Does their love outweigh conflict?

Maeve O'Sullivan and Cait O’Sullivan - @OoMaeve
Maeve and Cait are Geordie-Irish sisters. Maeve is a graduate of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, and although she has worked a lot in theatre, this is her first exploring original writing where she is integral to the process. Cait recently graduated from her Masters in Creative Writing from The University of Manchester, and is excited to be writing this as her third play. Living With a Dark Lord is a precious and personal story told from siblings growing up with a Dark Lord for a brother. A very real insight into the world of autism.

Niamh de Valera, Executive & Co-Artistic Director of Blue Elephant Theatre, says
“We are so excited to be offering formal residencies at the Blue Elephant – it’s been a dream for so long! We were blown away by the quality and dynamism of the applications we received so deciding on the final four was incredibly tough. We can’t wait to see what comes of their time at Blue Elephant and hope it’s only the start of our working relationships with each other.”

Blue Elephant Theatre aims to continue offering residencies in future to nurture companies in their infancy. It recognises importance of providing opportunities to support emerging artists and the difficulties caused by increased competition for funds and space. Previous examples of companies supported by BET include Theatre Temoin and On the Run.


Strawberry Starburst & MHAW 2016

Dulwich on View
Date published
Thursday 19 May 2016
Niamh de Valera

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and we’re showing Strawberry Starburst at the Blue Elephant.

Strawberry Starburst is a fierce new play about a teenager developing and battling an eating disorder. When Bram Davidovich first sent us his script, it hit a chord with us which has only strengthened as he has developed the play to include a more medically accurate description of Shez’ recovery process.

The Blue Elephant has had a strong focus on mental health and well-being for some time. Our forum theatre project, Speak Out, which tours to schools around Southwark has long focused on supporting young people to better understand their own mental health and how to cope in overwhelming situations and where to go to ask for help. We run 2BScene, an adult drama group predominantly made up of those with lived experience of mental health problems, which produces theatre pieces addressing the stigma attached to poor mental health and highlighting the isolation and vulnerabilities that can be both a cause and effect of mental health problems.

It follows that we were very receptive to Bram’s script and the story it contained. As a theatre, we try to address big issues and one of the strongest aspects of Strawberry Starburst, in our opinion, is that it doesn’t give a single reason for Shez becoming ill. There is a lot going on in her life; her dad leaving, her unfaithful boyfriend, her unwittingly harsh mother expecting certain things of her. But there are also chance remarks, certain memories, insidious thoughts, her own perseverance and her strength of character turning back on itself. Somewhere in this melting pot of reasons may lie the cause of her illness but the play isn’t going to give us an easy answer on that.

At the end of the play, Shez is in recovery and it’s tough. It’s not a happily-ever-after ending, but a step on a long road. Our mental health is fragile and recovering from bad times isn’t a simple thing. It can take a lot of time and effort and there may be setbacks and relapses – it’s not fair to make that look pretty or easy because it belies just how much strength goes into recovering from, and indeed living with, a mental health problem.

Strawberry Starburst runs at Blue Elephant Theatre until 28 May. For tickets, book here.

Eating Disorder charity Beat has helplines and an email service for adults and young people offering support and information about eating disorders and difficulties with food, weight and shape. We also have an email service and an online one to one service.

Adult Helpline: 0345 634 1414 or email
Youthline: 0345 634 7650 or email


Two New Directors for Blue Elephant

Southwark Weekender
Date published
Friday 3 April 2015
Michael Holland

Kids Join Celebs for Children In Need Choir

Southwark News
Date published
Thursday 13 November 2014
Amelia Burr

West Ham In the Community- and keeping it that way!

Over Land and Sea
Date published
Saturday 31 August 2013

Now it may surprise you to know that I’m not a full time journalist- although I do find talking to myself is becoming more and more of a regular occurrence. On weekdays, I’m often found at a buzzing little theatre in Camberwell, where community is paramount but so is bringing through young artists and enriching the local area with international talent. Sound familiar to West Ham yet? Okay, I understand that the areas are completely different in terms of product; my scintillating spiel about Guy Demel’s poor positioning goes down as well at the theatre as Butoh inspired dance would amongst these pages (although something tells me we’d be up for anything after the exciting signing of Andy Carroll). Still, I got talking to Blue Elephant Theatre’s very own Participation & Development Director, Jo Sadler-Lovett, over how important it would be for the club to keep engaging with the East End territories long after the move to Stratford.
I’ve known Jo for a number of years now and three words that you would use to sum up Jo are busy, energetic and extremely generous. As if to prove all of these points, she allowed me to speak to her over lunch which not only took up some of her free time but meant that she had to dodge the spray of Camberwell’s finest sandwich which I happened to be eating.

“While we are clearly different organisations with different personnel and budgets, there will be a lot of similarities between what we are trying to achieve at the Blue Elephant Participation Department and West Ham United” she begins.

I interject, saying that one of the reasons we were awarded the Olympic Stadium was because of our promise to extend our community programmes.

“Well this is it”, she says, “There’s a lot of benefit for communities when they have these kinds of programmes, regardless of whether it’s sport or the arts. One only has to look at the Olympics to see that the two have worked side by side to create excitement and good feeling- and those are just the more obvious benefits.”

That sounds good. I beckon her to go on.

“To start with charities can benefit from more flexible funding. They can suggest areas where funding is needed the most. In turn, businesses can see where their money is going towards and see that it is really helping.”

So in short, West Ham wouldn’t just be putting the money into their different initiatives and schemes but appropriating it effectively?

“Exactly. Businesses and individuals can also supply certain expertise. Bookkeeping for example. They can provide all the right personnel that charities may not have to make sure things are running smoothly.”

It’s fine to do this but on a ground level, how does it help people in the local community?

“More than you’d realise actually. For example, we give young people a place to go after school and at weekends. Not only do our activities give them a real sense of purpose and help them to learn about responsibility but it makes them more aware of the community around them and how they have an impact upon it. What is also satisfying for me is that I can help supplement their development as people but also get them interested in theatre and other aspects of culture that they may not previously have had access to.”

This is certainly food for thought. I can see what the Blue Elephant is achieving. Having worked there for the past two years, I know that the Blue Elephant isn’t a large theatre but its participation department is making huge leaps to help young children.

“It’s not just young children!” Jo smiles “We also have a community play for adults, we run projects tackling mental health and we go into primary and secondary schools and help to supplement their curriculum. We work with all kinds of age groups.”

So, one must consider the fact that if the tiny Blue Elephant is able to do this amount on quite a large scale, one can only dream of what West Ham can do as a club with their community projects.

“There’s no hiding that we get people involved in theatre. West Ham will be the same. Not only will people gain from their schemes but they will see the club as a great place and will more than likely support it back.”

So West Ham are reaching out to people and will more than likely be building their own ‘community’ of supporters and potential employees?

“It’s a win, win situation. If the people in the local area aren’t fans already, they soon will be. They feel a sense of cohesion and belonging plus they have role models in their facilitators and the players on the pitch.”

It does sound good. The club are helping the local community and creating a sense of unity. One concern is that all the West Ham fans have moved to outer Essex and that the East End is no longer dominated by Hammers, as it once was. It seems as if the locals aren’t involved with the club. These initiatives could not only help the local area but will help bring the community of Newham back into the West Ham community.

“It’s obviously great to involve locals but at the same time it doesn’t stop anyone else getting involved. Whether it’s time or money that you’re offering, everything will be appreciated. I know that we appreciate all the help that we get.”

I thank Jo for her time. It’s great to know that the club are trying to engage with the community. No matter how low key it seems to us, there is an awful lot going on. As discussed, this is participation on a massive scale. The Blue Elephant and Jo engaged 1,069 people alone in 2011 (the 2012 results haven’t been published yet but it’s expected to be a larger number!) If you’d like to get involved in volunteering projects you can go to . Community matters and the people in it make that community. Come on you Irons/Elephants!


Poignant Hilarity

Southwark News
Date published
Thursday 11 April 2013
Susan Hallissey

WOW! HOW many ways can I find to tell you that I absolutely loved this piece of theatre? I guess I will just have to give it a go...

I've not been to the Blue Elephant Theatre before but if this production is anything to go by I hope to become a regular! The venue itself is tucked away in Camberwell like a lost gem. The staff are friendly and I sensed a passion for the work created here. Jimmy in the bar deserves a mention for his smile and attention!

Roger Simeon's You and Me is physical theatre in its most delicious sense. Music, dance, and expression beautifully crafted by Patricia Rodriguez and Merce Ribot. The energy of this duo did not diminish and they cleverly enticed us into their world. This was the sad and touching dwelling of bathos. It only took moments to believe that the two young actors were in fact two elderly Spanish sisters, bound together by age, history and life.

The dialogue moved swiftly from absurd conversations of death-'Life is a very tiring activity'-to what to wear when one dies (A red or green dress? Green brings out my eyes), to the issue of laziness, how shoes are made and so much more. This production never allows you to become bored and the coffin scene, amongst others, is brilliantly choreographed. Surrounded by brown cardboard boxes there is also the conversation of words versus numbers...Ingenious!

As I laughed my way through this couple's eccentric behaviour I was aware of something more poignant lurking beneath hilarity. These sisters were lost and isolated and as one looked after the other we felt the anguish and frustration that bound them: who really needed who?

You and me is basically a story of human emotions and lost lives, told in such a way that you will want to jump for joy one moment and cry with remorse the next. This is due in part to the skilful writing, the inspired directing and perfect timing and acting of Rodriguez and Ribot. My companion giggled then wept at the end-she had never seen physical theatre and was totally immersed and converted. Physical theatre can be misconstrued as slapstick or farce, this piece proves that the addition of imaginative movements, music and dance we can be transported to a magical, enchanting landscape with tender moments.