Lift – the London International Festival of Theatre, is back in London after a nine year absence. However this is not theatre as you know it. Events range from surreal plays in prestigious venues to street performance; all designed to challenge perceptions of theatre and prove that as well as entertaining it can surprise and stimulate the audience, providing a different and often slightly skewed view of the world. Lift uses unconventional venues: such as disused power stations, the street and even ice cream vans. The performances themselves often engage directly with the audience, participation is a key element of the festival and there are many ways for the viewers to get involved. Fancy being part of a live art installation, where children cut the hair of adult volunteers? The Canadian arts company Mammalian Diving Reflex will be conducting it all next weekend in central London with the performance Haircuts By Children. It is a playful but provocative work that questions the vanity of adults and the trust we put in the younger generation! Photobucket The heart of the Lift festival is the Lift club at the ICA. It is a social hub for all involved or interested, with selection of talks and debates held on subjects such as local performance, art and theatre and the effect of social media within the performing arts. There are also more raucous, cabaret events being held on Friday and Saturday nights. Highlights of the festival still to come include; Nevermore at the Barbican, a surreal, musical interpretation of the life of Edgar Allen Poe, Fuck My Life, an exploration of what it is really like to be a teenager today, using spoken word, video and true-life confessions to give a voice to young people explaining why they often feel such profound sadness and displacement. Music for Seven Ice Cream Vans will see those oh so iconic vehicles driving round the streets of London playing a specially –commissioned score by composer Dan Jones. The events are an interesting mix of serious and light-hearted humour, some to watch and others to join in with. The festival runs until July 18th. For a full list of events visit the website www.liftfestival.com Header image by Clara Molden