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National Theatre’s River Stage festival begins next weekend at London South Bank

And all events are free!

National Theatre River Stage Festival

River Stage, the free outdoor Summer festival, begins on London’s South Bank next Friday, 13th July.

Organised by the National Theatre, the festival will kick off with London’s leading queer performance venue and popular night spot The Glory. A dazzling army of drag queens, underground stars, club kids and cult comedians will create another totally unique family-friendly showcase for what has become an annual highlight for the capital’s LGBT+ community. Highlights include a re-working of Liza With A Z, a Madonna-themed cabaret special and Jonny Woo’s new show with Double Olivier award winner Le Gateau Chocolat.

HOME Manchester return to River Stage from Friday 20th July, following last year’s debut, bringing an eclectic, diverse line-up of northern performers and musicians to the capital, showing London the best of what Manchester has to offer. Kicking off with an ‘If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It’ opening night featuring sequin-clad satirical weirdos Bourgeois & Maurice and Madchester legend Dave Haslam, the weekend will feature pop-up theatre from The Manchester Project, suffragette sash workshops with Mighty Heart Theatre, live music from MIRO and spoken word from Young Identity to name a few. For those ready to party, Saturday evening will culminate with ‘champion of good music’ and Hacienda legend DJ Paulette on the decks.

Making its River Stage debut, Sadler’s Wells presents a range of dance styles from 27th July, with hip hop, ballroom, traditional Indian kathak dance, contemporary and flamenco. Alongside performances, there are participatory workshops to get visitors moving including yoga, a family friendly workshop and a ceilidh.

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Also making its first appearance at River Stage is nonclassical, who take to the stage from Friday 3rd bringing together the best in new classical, electronic and experimental music. On Friday night, Klavikon (Leon Michener) plays live techno prepared piano, including hamster wheel, before Tom Richards presents an idiosyncratic and infectious demonstration of his modular synthesizer setup. Elsewhere, there’s renaissance music and live improvisations from cello trio Tre Voci; an exploration of the work of 20th century female composers from Sarah Dacey; music for cello and tape, plus jazz vibraphone, from Cecilia Bignall; a unique performance of Gabriel Prokofiev’s ‘Cello Multitracks’, led by Peter Gregson; the joyfully anarchic jazz/classical/rock collective DOLLYman; while DJs across the weekend include Late Junction’s Nick Luscombe and the genre-bending turntablist Mr Switch.

The National Theatre is programming the final festival weekend from Friday 10th August with a mix of family focused workshops, sing along bands, a groundbreaking new circus show, a tea dance and live music and DJ’s. The weekend will end with a screening of the National Theatre Live recording of the NT’s recent production of Stephen Sondheim’s classic musical Follies, winner of Best Musical Revival at this year’s Olivier awards starring Olivier award winning actress Imelda Staunton.

River Stage runs from Friday 13th July to Sunday 12th August and all events are free. For more details go to

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