An archive for the tag " Bush Theatre"

Babylon Beyond Borders

 live streamed performance happening simultaneously in four countries.

Bush Theatre, London | Harlem Stage, New York 

Market Theatre Lab, Johannesburg | Pequeno Ato, São Paulo

February, 2019 




“Babylon Beyond Borders is not only an absolute must-see for its theatrical ingenuity and originality, but it is also a desperately important play for its fresh outlook, which celebrates distance from a hegemony dominated by fear of the other.”

     The Upcoming  ★★★★★


 “Babylon Beyond Borders is a momentous technical feat.”

      The Stage   ★★★★


“Seamlessly blending four live streams into one performance that works not only in the theatre’s around the globe, but also on a YouTube livestream. Making it accessible to anyone and everyone around the world and that alone is what makes Babylon Beyond Borders an enormous and original success”

      Theatre full stop ★★★★


“Babylon Beyond Borders is an absolutely superb piece of theatre: completely relevant, so ambitious and pulled off so well. It’s also pulled off by a nearly 100% female cast and crew! I was left with a very real sense that this is what theatre should be.”

    View from the Circle


Four extraordinary theatres, each deeply rooted in their own community, explore their relationship to home, language and migration. A Brazilian activist at the Pequeno Ato Theatre in São Paulo performs with a chorus of women from Shepherd’s Bush, London. Musicians at Harlem Stage in New York City act out the experiences of students at the Market Theatre Lab in Johannesburg in a celebration of the possibility and power of cross border encounters.


Project Partners

Bush Theatre (London, UK) – a world-famous home for new plays and an internationally renowned champion of playwrights.

Harlem Stage (NYC, USA) – an award-winning performing arts centre that features diverse local, national, and global artists in music, film, opera, theatre, dance and literature.

Pequeno Ato (São Paulo, Brazil)- award-wining young independent theatre focusing on creating new dramaturgy and contemporary aesthetics.

Market Theatre Lab (Johannesburg, South Africa) was operating as an independent, non-racial theatre during the country’s apartheid regime. The theatre provides a platform for professional performing and visual arts repertoire.


Presented as part of the Up Next programme by Bush Theatre and Battersea Arts Centre in partnership with Artistic Directors of the Future.


Watch the full live streamed performance Babylon Beyond Borders on the Bush Theatre YouTube Channel

Devised by Ruthie Osterman, Sarah Elizabeth Charles, Pedro Granato and Mwenya Kabwe.


London Creative team: 


Ruthie Osterman

Live Stream Producer

Heather Pasfield

Writer & Dramaturg

Annie Siddons

Lighting design:

Rajiv Pattani 


Sarah Elizabeth Charles

Set design:

Ding Musa

Movement Director:

Rachael Nanyonjo


Samantha Murphy

Production manager: 

Aniela Zaba

Stage Manager

Ellie Dear

Assistant Stage Manager

Lucy Rees



Afia Abusham | Carol Walton | Lydia Buckelman


Women’s Chorus: 

Maureen Natumi| Lieve Carchon| Aubrey Seader| Mediah Ahmed| Jessica Manu| Melissa Saint
Ilaria Ciardelli| Christaline Mckay| Pauline Singh| Tilail Negussie Mekuria| Sophie McCartney

 rsz_pic_first_danceImage by Wasi Daniju


About the performance: 

Babylon Beyond Borders was presented as part of the Up Next programme at the Bush Theatre.

Up Next is a leadership programme championing the next generation of visionary culturally diverse leaders and artists. As part of this programme, Executive Producer Tobi Kyeremateng and Artistic Director Ruthie Osterman were given the opportunity to take over the Bush Theatre for a season and programme the space. They created BABYLON a two-week season with Babylon Festival in the first week, curated by Tobi Kyeremateng and celebrating the contemporary influence and experience of black and brown people. And Babylon Beyond Borders in the second week – a live streamed performance happening simultaneously in four countries, created by Ruthie Osterman.



The vision behind Babylon Beyond Borders was to connect the Bush Theatre’s local community to other communities around the world by creating international collaboration that would happen simultaneously in various countries.

The idea was to challenge the way we create theatre and to work collaboratively with artists from around the globe, using modern technological and digital tools for communication. The main goal was to create a significant encounter between theatres and artists around the world and to create work that could generate social and political change. The decision to use the live stream method came out of the will to find an alternative encounter to the physical one which is limited by physical borders and the privilege of travelling abroad. 

 rsz_pic_chorusImage by Wasi Daniju


The nature of the collaboration – working process

Between 5th to 9th November 2018, the Bush Theatre hosted an intensive Research & Development workshop with the international partners. In the workshop, the lead artists from London, Johannesburg, New York and São Paulo devised the content of the performance, learnt and developed how to incorporate the live stream element and agreed on a working method. The workshop ended with an open sharing for Bush staff which was live streamed on social media.  

To read Ruthie’s blog about the workshop, please visit: Workshop’s blog


Babylon Beyond Borders – R&D workshop at the Bush Theatre


Rehearsals – Babylon Beyond Borders 



Four extraordinary theatres, each deeply rooted in their own community, explore their relationship to home, language and migration. Deconstructing the biblical story Tower of Babel, the four companies present stories of four contemporary towers; The Grenfell Tower in London, The Ponte City Tower in Johannesburg, Ocupação 9 de Julho in São Paulo and the World Trade Centre in USA. Through the stories of those towers, they raised questions about home and boundaries. A Brazilian activist at the Pequeno Ato Theatre in São Paulo performs with a chorus of women from Shepherd’s Bush. Musicians at Harlem Stage in New York City act out the experiences of students at the Market Theatre Lab in Johannesburg in a celebration of the possibility and power of cross border encounters.




audience Audiences see themselves live on screen (Clockwise: NYC, São Paulo, Johannesburg, London)


Women’s Chorus

Babylon Beyond Borders incorporated an intergenerational chorus of 11 women from the Bush Theatre’s local community, coming from vast backgrounds, and age 21 to 71. The chorus was a combination of professional and non-professional performers who were interested in the project and were willing to explore their personal connection to home, exile and migration.


The cast and creatives of Babylon Beyond Borders represent the beautiful diversity of Shepherd’s Bush and sees London as a modern Babel. This is a celebration of cultures and identities. There were 19 languages presented on stage and on screen: Portuguese, Italian, Amharic, French, West Indian Patois, Swahili, isiZulu, Kikuyu, Kiswahili, Urdu, Punjabi, Polish, Spanish, German, Dutch, Italian, London Back slang and English.


“Now, the beauty of linguistic diversity is that it reveals to us just how ingenious and how flexible the human mind is. Human minds have invented not one cognitive universe, but 7,000 – there are 7,000 languages spoken around the world. And we can create many more – languages, of course, are living things, things that we can hone and change to suit our needs. The tragic thing is that we’re losing so much of this linguistic diversity all the time. We’re losing about one language a week, and by some estimates, half of the world’s languages will be gone in the next hundred years.”

                                                                       (Monologue from the play Babylon Beyond Borders)

 grenfell/still_images]Image by Wasi Daniju



Press & Reviews 

UK press

Skin Deep Magazine – an interview with Ruthie Osterman

Radio-  London Live- an interview with Ruthie Osterman  

TV- An interview with Ruthie Osterman on Sky News

A Younger Theatre

Alondon (Israeli magazin, in Hebrew)

Miro Magazine

The Upcoming  

The Stage 

 Theatre full stop  

View from the Circle

USA press


BRAZIL press

Palco Paulistano

Medium Magazine

SA press

Business Day







visa 2


The UP NEXT initiative is funded by the Arts Council England Sustained Theatre grant. Babylon Beyond Borders is generously supported by Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Garfield Weston Foundation.

Tags: Babylon Beyond Borders, Bush Theatre, Live Stream, Ruthie Osterman, Up Next