CONCRETE DREAMS | Southbank Centre, London

This free, 70-minute guided tour celebrates the reopening of the cutting-edge, brutalist buildings of the Southbank Centre after two years of redevelopment, with an exclusive glimpse into the world of the performer. The Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer has been cleaned and stripped back to its former open-plan 1960s glory, and multimedia art collective KlangHaus have taken over the Purcell room for an arresting, immersive 15-minute show.

Entering through Queen Elizabeth Hall Artists’ Entrance with an expert guide, we learn about the history and architecture behind the iconic “wooden building cast in concrete” (Richard Battye), while following in the footsteps of legendary artists who performed on these stages, from Pink Floyd to Stan Getz and Daniel Barenboim.

After collecting “Access All Areas” special guest passes, members of the public are given backstage access for the first time ever, travelling up the lift through the working Scene Dock, hanging out in the Artists’ Lounge, and even visiting the toilets, crammed with videos, rip-away excerpts of speeches and poetry, and 1960s telephones where we listen to the architects’ conversations.

The surprise finale, in the newly refurbished Purcell Room, follows an emotional journey through the insanely eclectic music and dance acts that have performed here since 1967, with a three tier video installation on enormous gauzes that take over the entire space, interacted with by a single female dancer. This is worth the visit alone. Welcome back to the concrete dreams of the 1960s, as you’ve never seen it before.

Concrete Dreams is sold out but (free) day tickets are available.

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