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In Conversation With: GrimFest, London's Only Horror Theatre Festival

Writer Grace Moran chats with the GrimFest creators about all things horror, theatre spaces, and how you can get involved!

Are you a fan of all things dark and creepy? If yes, the horror theatre festival, GrimFest, is back for its second year and is stronger than ever. This festival, located in the atmospheric Old Red Lion Theatre Pub, celebrates the dark and twisted art forms which are largely underrepresented in theatre. Last week, I interviewed the creators Jack and Nina, who told me about their aims and wishes for this year’s festival.

When asked why they particularly wanted to promote this genre, they explained how they felt that horror is underrepresented within theatre. Despite being incredibly popular on film, horror in theatre is much less visible and this festival focuses on giving horror a space to be expressed. In this context, “horror” encompasses everything from jump scares and gore to psychological horror, delving into the complex and dark nature of mankind, stories of trauma, and real-life horrors such as war. This diverse genre will be expressed through an equally broad range of theatrical practices including drag, puppet shows, and one-person shows. Jack and Nina also mentioned how horror is particularly interesting to explore in theatre, as there are great opportunities to create a chilling atmosphere within live theatre spaces.

GrimFest logo courtesy of @grimfestuk Instagram account.

The festival showcases theatrical work from aspiring playwrights and actors who are fascinated with the morbid. There are regular Scratch nights which enable participants to showcase their ideas and make connections with others in the field. These nights bring people from all backgrounds together, allowing the theatre to be dissociated with the elitism with which it has traditionally been surrounded. Jack and Nina expressed their admiration of the people who take part in such nights, for their bravery in putting themselves and their material out there. The focus on community within this festival ensures that everyone feels comfortable and supported as they present their work to others.

The Grim Fest directors shared their valuable wisdom for any aspiring playwriters, producers or actors out there. They advised that working with people that you know and trust is of the upmost importance, as it makes you feel more comfortable and ensures that you work to the best of your ability. Writing about what you are genuinely interested in is also incredibly valuable, as the passion shines through your own work. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, they reminded new writers to be unafraid of putting their work out there for others to experience and appreciate!

To end the interview, we discussed which horror movies they would like to see translated onto stage. One of the many options discussed was a gender-reversed adaptation of Stephen King’s Misery, with Jack wishing to take on the frightening role of Annie Wilkes! This shows that there are no limitations on the types of the theatre included in this festival. If you want to get involved with this amazing festival, applications for taking part and creating your own performances are now open, and close on the 30th June. For those who wish to watch these fantastic productions, the festival will take place between 17th October and 4th November 2023, with tickets being available in August. I urge you to get yourselves down to this thrilling festival where you’ll be guaranteed a unique and terrifyingly excellent experience!

Check out GrimFest via their Instagram page and website for further updates and how to get involved!

IG: @grimfestuk


Edited by Georgia Gibson, Theatre Editor.


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