It’s back and bolder than ever – VAULT Festival 2018, running until 18 March 2018. Theatre editor Daniel Perks catches up with director Tilly Branson, bringing Think of England to this year’s festival:

VAULT Festival 2018 – it was one of my Theatre Picks to kick off the year. It’s London’s biggest arts festival, taking place in a series of subterranean tunnels beneath Waterloo station, as well as expanding into the nearby Waterloo East Theatre and Network Theatre. Now in its sixth year, it promises to be an eight-week cultural nerve centre, inviting audiences to over 300 shows.

Here at Miro Magazine, we are incredibly excited by the biggest offering that The Vaults has ever seen – we have already picked our top shows that should not be missed! Throughout the festival, we will be profiling some of the shows playing this year – getting to know the theatre companies and performers that are bringing work to London’s version of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Next up in our Spotlight feature is Think of England, which plays VAULT Festival from 7 – 11 February 2018. I caught up with director Tilly Branson:

Describe Think of England in three words.

Fun, dancing, revelations.

Is this your first VAULT Festival performance experience?

It’s my first show at Vault festival as a director. I’m really excited, I think the setting is going to work really well with the idea that the audience and our 1940s characters are all brought together by an air raid warning siren and the action plays out while everyone is holed up in an air raid shelter with bombs dropping outside.

Who else are you most looking forward to seeing while at the VAULT Festival?

I’m looking forward to seeing Katie Arnstein‘s show Bicycles and Fish, and Nastazja’s SomersThings That Do Not C(o)unt.

Who or what are your inspirations?

What gives me the energy to keep going and making theatre is mostly the brilliant people I work with. I love working with actors, writers, designers and other artists who are curious, inquisitive and generous in their approach – digging down into a script to find the best possible way of telling a story truthfully, creatively and with integrity. I also have a brilliant team of supportive fellow female theatre-makers in the collective I’m part of based in Nottingham, called The Party Somewhere Else – look out for our female-led festival coming in March this year.

Vault Festival 2018 Think Of England

What are the future plans for Think of England?

Think of England will be going on quite an extensive tour, to mainly rural venues including church and village halls. The rural touring version of the show is specifically tailored to that rural setting where many of the audience members will already know each other and will feel at home in the village hall.

The characters who arrive – the women who’ve come to put on a tea-dance and the Canadian troops who’ve come to be entertained – are the outsiders and the ones who bring scandal into the lives of the local residents. The rural tour is the dream for after the festival – some people make the mistake of seeing theatre in rural contexts as somehow less valuable, cutting edge or important as “Proper London Theatre”. But if you’ve seen good village hall touring you know that’s not the case.

We’ve already toured Think of England to village halls once and it got brilliant responses, so I hope there will be more touring to both rural venues and festivals.

Vault Festival 2018 Think Of England

What is the best production you have seen in the last 12 months?

The one that comes to mind is Uchenna Dance Company‘s Headwrap Diaries, which I saw in a rural venue in Dronfield. It was a funny, engaging, moving dance piece about women and their relationship to their hair. After the show the cast mingle with the audience and teach you different ways of tying head wraps. It’s at The Albany in March, I definitely recommend going to see it.

Is there anything else you want to highlight about Think of England?

It will be a really fun evening of wartime dancing, flirting and scandal, and you can even learn a few jive steps if you’re nifty on your pins! Bonus points if you come in your best 1940s garb. And if you make theatre and you’re intrigued by rural touring, there’s a workshop as part of VAULT Festival on Saturday 10 February where we will be talking about the value and importance of touring theatre outside of cities.


Writer: Madeleine Gould

Director: Tilly Branson

Producer: Anonymous is a Woman Theatre Company

Think of England plays as part of VAULT Festival 2018 from 7 – 11 February 2018. For more information or to book tickets, please visit the website.