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Interview with Vault Festival

29 January 2015 | Laura Stevens

Vault Festival is championing the unexpected and untamed in their underground Festival and they spoke to London Calling about what to expect beneath the railway...

London Calling: How has the festival changed after the success of last year?

Vault Festival: This year the festival is deeper, faster flowing and is more like a wilderness - essentially, it feels more like a natural event, a phenomenon. We weren't expecting support like 2014 brought us: now we're trying to deliver something that's never been seen before in London. A truly grassroots surge of strong, purposeful festival spirit, providing a massive range of artistic works underground in Waterloo.

LC: Can you explain about the specialness of the space under Waterloo – how are the shows making use of this and interacting with it?

VF: Working with 20,000 square feet of subterranean London is a gift to any artist, and to any party too! So from opening this Wednesday, artists are presenting work that responds to being underground, to being in London, and to being in a festival environment. In our labyrinth of eight venues here at VAULT, the range of atmospheres is amazing, and therefore so is the work. 

LC: The festival is said to be “carefully curated” - can you explain the process behind how you selected what performances you wanted to do?

VF: We hand pick every event at VAULT. It's taken us a year to pull this lineup together and we're already making secret plans for 2016. The process essentially rests with a jury of people that we at the Heritage Arts Company respect.

London Calling: How are ticket sales going?

VF: We have quite a lot of sold out shows already. The Dog and The Elephant, with an extraordinary actor called Jack Johns, is going to do very well. Silent Opera's GIOVANNI is going to be incendiary. We're honoured to have Theatre Ad Infinitum and Filter Theatre with us, respectively with Odyssey and Macbeth, and they'll both sell out too. House of Blakewell's new show 'We Can Make You Happy' is one of our top tips as well.

LC: Where do you see VAULT 2015 fitting into the landscape of festivals supporting emerging work?

VF: No other festival does what we do, let alone in London, which is morbidly competitive. Being part of VAULT 2015 will distribute a quarter of a million pounds to featured artistic groups. The Arts Council don't support us, so all of this job creation, stability for artists, opportunity to make artistic risks without incurring financial risk, is all made possible by the bravery of our participating artists and our brave audiences.

LC: Other than supporting the most exciting emerging artists and companies, what themes run through the selected works? 

VF: There are themes about joblessness, homelessness and gender politics pulsing through the heart of VAULT programming. But, we've not themed the festival on purpose. It's a conversation with our audiences and there is room to talk about whatever you want. Check out all the panel discussions and workshops! 

LC: What piece are you most looking forward to seeing?

VF: Fat Man, by a totally magical company called Move To Stand, is a one man stand up routine by Orpheus. He's a mess. He's incredibly funny. He's fat and sad, and emotional, and it won't be what you're expecting from Orpheus, the world's finest musician.

LC: What was the most outrageous story from VAULT last year?
Kansas Smitty's organised a quasi-legal Mardi Gras march through Waterloo Station, picking up bemused policemen and many Saturday revellers. As they approached the VAULT doors, we still had shows going on, and on the exact moment the megaphones and dancers entered the door, three hundred audiences members spilled out and joined the throng. It was quite a moment. Hard to reproduce. Watch this space. Ask me again in March.

Vault Festival is on 28 Jan - 8 March.

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