Amy chats to Isabel Adomakoh Young, a Guest Artistic Director of the Kings Head Theatre’s The Takeover – which sees 4 mid career LGBTQIA+ artists plan their own takeover of the theatre, creating a programme of shows. Isabel’s season is called Sight Unseen.
Hi Isabel, how are you?
Hi, I’m really well thanks. Rehearsals are under way and I’m getting very excited for March
27th when our first show opens!
What is your vision for your Sight Unseen season?
I asked artists “Who should finally get their turn in the limelight? How can we take a fresh
look at old narratives? What have we taken as read without ever asking ourselves why?” My
curation priorities were reframing and fresh angles, ambitious play with form, imaginative
use of language, and unheard stories and erased communities. I think we’ve really achieved
Tell us about the shows within the programme
Over the season, audiences will be wooed by drag kings, exhilarated by new writing,
entertained by a trans autobiography and challenged by a chimney. Starting at our iconic
pub theatre, we will travel from a doorstep in Dublin to a lecture hall in 1900s Sierra Leone,
and from a Muslim auntie’s front room to an underground sex club, via the queue for the
Queen’s coffin. While their content may be diverse, what unites these pieces is unique
viewpoint, authentic voice and respect for the sanctity of a great night out!
How did you decide on these shows?
I programmed via both direct conversations and open call for submissions, because I wanted
to broaden my references outside my immediate theatre community. I also wanted to make
room for messy, electric ‘works in progress’, as well as polished pieces.
What shows have you seen recently that excited you?
Bootycandy at the Gate’s new location in Camden really expanded my conception of what
theatre can be. The performers were astonishingly brave and versatile, and the leaps from
emotional sincerity to surreal clowning were exhilarating. I also loved After the Act, at the
New Diorama until April 1st – I learned about the dark history of UK anti-gay law Section 28
while enjoying the original music and comedy chops of Breach Theatre.
What do you look for when choosing shows to see?
I’m always hoping to learn from shows I see, whether that be about history, about human
nature or about the theatrical form itself. I love shows that are courageous in asking more of
audiences, inspiring us to collaborate imaginatively even as we are entertained. And I
actively seek out diversity, not only across my own intersections (queer, black, etc) but in
areas I’m less informed about.
What’s a career highlight of yours so far?
I will never forget playing Juliet at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. It was the summer just as
audiences returned to theatres and the company was phenomenally talented. Doing the
balcony scene as dusk fell amongst the trees was intoxicating. And I was lucky enough to
win a BBTA for it too!
What would you say to try and encourage someone along to a show at a pub theatre /
So much of theatre is in the ideas. Fringe theatre is the quintessence of storytelling – by
coming to watch you’ll be part of making the show, you are meeting the artists in a way a
huge auditorium can never facilitate. Be in on the ground floor of some of the hottest work
in London, take it all in from mere feet away, and support artists who you might one day see
on your telly.
What can we expect from you next?
I’ll be touring the UK in a brilliant new show this year, but I can’t talk about it just yet! You’ll
have to follow my socials and watch this space! I also just wrapped on Re: Dracula, a cool
audio project that releases the content of the book at the moment each diary entry or letter
is set. The first episode goes out in May. And soon you can spot me in Foundation Series 2
on Apple TV+!
Sight Unseen is on at the Kings Head Theatre from the 27th March – 16th April.