Founded in 2007 by Daniel Goldman, CASA – meaning ‘home’ in Portuguese and Spanish is one of the UK’s biggest champions of cultural exchanges between Latin American and UK based artists. An arts organisation programming predominantly theatre, their well known and respected festival has enjoyed 9 editions, with its 10th taking place this July. Taking over the helm of both the organisation and festival this year is CASA contributer Cordelia Grierson, the newly appointed Artistic Director who has helped shape CASA’s journey behind the scenes within the past 8 years. Talking ahead of this year’s festival, Cordelia tells us more about what to expect as well as the event’s newly introduced multi-disciplinary element.
Hi Cordelia, you’ve been announced as CASA Festival’s new Artistic Director, taking over from Daniel Goldman, the festival’s founder. How are you feeling?
I am feeling honoured, excited and a bit nervous. It’s a huge job and I feel an immense amount of responsibility to nurture CASA into its next phase of life.
You’ve been involved with CASA since 2011, taking on various roles, and having started out as a volunteer. What was it about CASA that inspired you to get involved?
When I moved back from Mexico City I felt very lost in the UK – when I first found out about CASA online I thought it was meant for me; theatre and Latin America were my two favourite things. I harassed Daniel for about 6 months and then he finally rang me and said to come and volunteer. I think I spent the week mostly photocopying however the experience was life changing – the work was pretty special but it was the spirit and vibe of the festival which was most magical. That spirit is what I most want to recreate this festival.
This year’s festival will take place from Tues 16th to Sat 27th July 2019. How are you feeling head of the festival?
I am feeling really pumped and pretty manic but luckily I have the best team who are making sure every little bit comes together. This year we have so much going on, sometimes I feel a little bit foolish I decided to make my first festival CASA’s biggest to date but hey, that’s my style I guess!
I am also ideating what comes next, I am AD of CASA and CASA is an organisation; our festival is just one of our outputs. I am thinking about next year and I’m already excited.
Under your direction, CASA Festival has now become a multi-disciplinary arts festival with the addition of art, dance, film and music. What inspired the inclusion of these art forms?
This change happened for a variety of reasons, I believe that the joy of a festival of multidisciplinary arts is that you might find yourself watching something you didn’t expect. You can experience a variety of art forms each one complimenting and/or challenging what else you have seen at the festival. Additionally, we get to support and programme a wider variety of artists and appeal to different audiences. More art, more artists, more to experience…simple.
This year’s host venues are The Arcola, Rio Cinema and Dalston Curve Garden. How have you worked with them to organise this year’s festival?
We have worked with the Arcola for many years because we co-produced two runs of Thebes Land by Sergio Blanco directed by Daniel Goldman (former AD of CASA) with them. So, it was a natural choice to work with them again on this venture; the Arcola has a great team and great spaces. One thing I really wanted to emphasise with this year’s festival is the take-over feel. We are working with a spatial designer to make an installation, we have seven nights of live music and a site specific show in the dressing room – all happening at the Arcola. We want our audiences to feel like they’ve stepped into a buzzing Latin American hub in London.
The Rio is my favourite cinema in London, their ethos and ours are paired and they have a wicked team. The curve garden is beautiful, different and so important to the community so both of them felt like natural fits for the festival.
The great thing about all our venues is the ‘yes we can’ approach. CASA is unlike anything else in London – we don’t fit into a traditional box and when all our wonderful venues were like ‘hell yeah’; for an independent organisation, that’s the best ever way to work.
What can audiences expect from this year’s line up?
This year, our line up showcases everything CASA is about. It’s a space for artists to create new work, tell new stories from untold perspectives, and retell old stories we know and love in fresh and exciting ways.
Expect fun, fiesty, female-led performances, unique and vibrant Latin American Cinema, killer live bands, art installations and lots of surprises and fun along the way.
What would you like for audiences to take away from this year’s festival?
I would like audiences to feel they have experienced an all-encompassing festival; seen work and stayed for more, met amazing international artists, danced with the team and caught a late night performance. I would hope that the work has moved them, challenged them or simply made them smile and forget where they are for a moment.
What advice would you give to aspiring festival curators/organisers?
Build a great team, fight for the things that really move you, expect heartbreak when things you have dreamed about fall through and understand going in that a lot of your job is fundraising.
Questions by Lucy Basaba.
CASA Festival will run from Tuesday 16th until Saturday 27th July 2019 at various venues. Tickets and the full CASA festival programme are available here…