Full programme announced for NOW 17, The Yard’s annual festival of radical new performance

Tues 31 Jan- Sat 4 March

We’re very excited to announce the full programme of shows for NOW 17, our annual festival of new performance.

Taking place over five weeks in Spring, NOW is an opportunity to see some of the best performance artists currently making work today.

We’ve invited five of the most influential artists of the day and paired them with five bright new voices to form – you’ve guessed it – FIVE double bills on our stage.

In 2017 we will be working with: Greg Wohead & Rachel Mars, Mamoru Iriguchi, Deborah Pearson, Sylvia Rimat, Rachael Young, Richard Dodwell, James Morgan, Marion Burge, Vanessa Macaulay, and Julie Rose Bower.

We can’t wait to share these artists’ work with you.

With a line up like that, can you blame us?

NOW 17 was co-programmed by Alexandrina Helmsley, Dan Hutton and Ashleigh Wheeler






Jay Miller and M. J. Harding on Removal Men

The migration crisis is one of the defining facts of our time. Every day, we are shown images of the suffering of people caught within it. We are faced with headlines about people dying in our seas, or about terrible abuse inflicted upon women under the ‘care of’ the Home Office, or about politicians who incite violence in the name of nationalism. And yet, despite this saturation of coverage, our world is more divided than ever, and people continue to suffer.

We made Removal Men because we believe that art has the power to provoke positive change. We want to create a show which looks at the violent consequences of the global hierarchy, which we in the west sit at the top of. To look at the crisis of compassion that characterises our time.

Removal Men is about Mo and George, two detention officers in an immigration removal centre (IRC), and their boss Beatrice. It follows what happens when Mo believes he is in love with a detainee. It is a dark, unsettling story which asks how, as a society, we have got to this place – where horrifying abuses of power happen within structures which are designed to “protect”.

Mike, who co-wrote the play, has been making the show since he was involved in an intervention to prevent the deportation of a young female Indian detainee at Yarl’s Wood. His action made him ask chilling questions: how had we got to a place where this was normal? How did the guards who attended her, who seemed like ordinary young men from Essex, understand their role?

We knew that it would be crucial to continue meeting with and speaking to people who have had direct experience of IRCs, both as detainees and officers, in order to make this show. Over 18 months we have worked with numerous organisations such as Yarl’s Wood Befrienders and Women for Refugee Women; we have visited Yarl’s Wood and spoken to people who live and work there; we have had conversations with immigration lawyers to check our facts.

As we have done so, we have questioned how it has become standard practice for a “civilised” country to detain refugees indefinitely. We have considered how the ordinary people who work in IRCs are part of a system of cultural ‘removal’ which we all practice – we are distanced from the violence carried out to “keep us safe”, from our feelings of shame about this, from being able to truly feel compassion for other people.

We think that art can shed light on these questions in ways that journalism – bound as it is by the way the world is, rather than what it could be – cannot. We tell stories to look at contemporary society from different perspectives. In this case, Removal Men focuses on the detention officers who act in our name, and how and why they might behave as they do – not to excuse them, but to understand.  

Removal Men depicts the power we wield over others; the violence inflicted through our efforts to keep people safe. A world in which our alienation from others is dangerous, deep rooted, and growing. A world in which compassion is in crisis.

In other words, our world, today, in the west, in 2016. A place where the one thing we need most deeply is the very thing we understand least: love.

Jay Miller & M. J. Harding

Read more on our website or read about the show in the Financial Times.