What’s on in London: Arts and culture

Take a break from essays with flashy and thought-provoking shows

Now that you’ve settled back into university, it’s the perfect time to get out of your bedroom and explore more of London’s art and culture scene.

There are so many new shows and exhibits to see before the end of term. Don’t know where to start?

Here are some upcoming art shows and plays that you can visit without leaving with an empty wallet this winter:

Photo courtesy of UCL Drama Society.

Machinal by UCL Drama Society

UCL’s very own drama society is putting out a rendition of Treadwell’s Machinal, a play inspired by the trial and execution of the murderer Ruth Snyder. It follows the story of a young woman who becomes increasingly resistant to domestic expectations.

“The most obvious difference between our production and any other time that Machinal has been produced has to be the 80s setting,” the society told The London Tab. “We have tried to capture the electric energy of the technology boom roaring into life – and are playing with profusions of neon, pop, expressionism, and styles the decade is famous for.”

Expect the shoulder pads, acid wash jeans, and pink eye shadow of “the ultimate 80s party sensation” to shine through the overall heavy play.

But what’s more special about this rendition is that it’ll a queer production. “We have switched the ‘man’ responsible for inciting the Young Woman’s break for freedom to a woman,” the society said. This show is a must-see for everyone interested in the themes of “gender, sexuality, the digital age and the power found in those who feel powerless.” So check it out on 18, 19, and 20 November at the Bloomsbury Theatre!

Aside from this, the society will be presenting their annual Pride showcase, which brings together small plays and acts centred around the LGBTQ+ identity. Some examples of what they hope to perform include Midsummer Night’s Dream, Achilles and Giovanni’s Room.

Aren’t the photos too amazing for you to miss the show?

Free exhibitions at UAL galleries

UAL has seven free galleries that showcase the works of famous artists and designers as well as students and staff. Some of their galleries are currently closed, but until 3 December, The Camberwell Space is showing a new work called Platitudes by Niccolo Binda, who is the 2020 recipient of the Vanguard Prize.

There is also an upcoming exhibition at the Lethaby Gallery running from the 23 November to 22 January. It’s called (In) Visible Processes and has a theme of making PhD studies and research in public art accessible to the general public. It’ll showcase the work of PhD students at uni’s Central Saint Martins campus.

UAL’s Central Saint Martins campus.

Unique show at 180 The Strand

LUX: New Wave of Contemporary Art is a new art exhibit at 180 The Strand with an immersive experience like no other. The collaborative show “brings together 12 of the World’s most celebrated artists to expand the boundaries of immersive art and blur the lines between the physical and virtual worlds.” So, grab your chance to gaze into an infinity sunset or sit down and enjoy the relaxing waves around you for £13 until the 18 December.

The Wellcome Collection – a UCL standard

Most of UCL students have probably been to The Wellcome Collection at least once. Located right by Euston Square station, the free museum has recently opened up two new exhibitions.

Running until next January, the first is called Tranquility and looks at feelings of peace and balance while offering critiques on the current wellness industry. The other is called Joy and explores “the diversity of euphoric experiences and the effect of positive emotion on the body.” It runs until next February.

They also have permanent exhibitions including Medicine Man and Being Human – which, again, most UCL students should have seen in addition to the usual British Museum visits.

Support your London art grads at Saatchi Gallery

Saatchi Gallery is putting on a show called London Grads Now. 21 to highlight the emerging artists whose degree shows were cancelled due to the pandemic. It’s a part of the mayor’s Let’s Do London campaign and includes more than 200 works from grads of city’s leading art schools, such as Goldsmiths, UAL, Royal College of Art, and Kingston School of Art.

You can visit and support your London art grads until 16 January.

Profiles in the feature image and the first three photos are provided by and used with permission from UCL Drama Society. 

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