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  • Miles Hedley

DEBUT SEASON at Woolwich Works

Updated: Sep 1, 2021

A new arts complex, Woolwich Works, opens to the public on the old Royal Arsenal site at the end of September with a debut season that features international comedy stars, cutting-edge music, works by renowned artists as well as as-yet unheralded ones, contemporary dance, circus, family fun and a selection of Christmas shows for every age and taste

The Works, spread across a group of former munitions buildings a stone’s throw from the Thames‘ foreshore, will also be the home base for – among others - the world-famous Chineke! Orchestra and National Youth Jazz Orchestra as well as immersive theatre champions Punchdrunk

Big names coming to Woolwich this autumn include stand-ups Sara Pascoe, Ed Gamble and Reginald D Hunter, jazz legend Bukky Leo and revered dance company Protein.

Opening night sees two great bands in action - the pulsating 20-piece New Regency Orchestra and the Reinhardt/Grappelli-inspired Hot Club Of Jupiter. Singer-songwriter Andrew Ashong takes to the stage 24 hours later.

October is Black History Month and the Works will mark it with a stellar list of performers at its various venues within the complex, which include the Fireworks Factory, the Stonecutters Studio and the Knight Gallery.

Throughout October, visitors will be able to see artworks by local creatives in an exhibition entitled Black In Full Colour.

Meanwhile on the 1st you can marvel at the joyful rhythms of Cubafrobeat featuring Dele Sosimi and on the 6th, US comedian Hunter joins forces with singer Tommy Blaize (top) and the NYJO to pay tribute to musical icon and political activist Gil Scott-Heron.

The following day, acclaimed poet Lemn Sissay will star in An Audience With… to mark National Poetry Day and and Noisette vocalist/bassist Shingai plays on the 8th.

Adriano Adewale presents a family-friendly concert of world music for the over-fives on the 9th while later the same day the multi-genre band Soothsayers (above) will be in the spotlight.

Girls, on the 10th, is a dance drama about women and lost youth. On the same day, Malika’s Poetry Kitchen celebrates its 20-year journey from a room in Brixton to ever-growing audiences and widespread acclaim.

The massively popular Hackney Colliery Band are due to raise the roof on the 14th. And funk fans will flock to the Works on the 16th to see the Balimaya Project, a pan-African 16-piece which includes members of local heroes Kokoroko.

Seven days later one of the true giants of jazz, sax ace Bukky Leo, takes to the stage with his Afrobeat collective Black Egypt. What a week that promises to be.

Black History Month is rounded off by a workshop and gig by Woolwich-based Carmen Sousa and Theo Pascal (above) who mix jazz with the wonders of Cape Verdean music.

November sees circus, music and film combine to create Human on the 5th and 6th followed by a breathtaking array of art in the annual Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair (pictured) from the 11th to the 14th, a family-oriented concert called Baby Gospel on the 13th, jazz concerts celebrating women players on the 16th and 17th and two showcases for jazz rookies on the 20th.

Also on the 20th stand-ups Sara Pascoe (below) and Ed Gamble will be headlining a night of hilarity. And on the 28th the amazingly talented youngsters of Junior Trinity will be showing off their musical wizardry.

The Christmas spirit pervades December, with Protein Dance’s magical family show Little Prince on the 4th and, for a different take on the festive season, comedian Luisa Omielan’s Snog Fest on the 10th and Kiss Me Under The Mistletoe the evening after.

The season – and the year – closes with raucous cabaret The Grotteaux from 16 December to 8 January.

For further information about these and other events, including ticketing and location, check out


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