Mark Thomas to trespass against us in latest agitprop offering

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The last time Mark Thomas was in Londonderry he got punters to send 150 images of former Culture Minister, Maria Miller, to Whitehall.

The context? Ms Miller had just been ordered repay £5,800 in over-claimed expenses.

The images, captioned with a rather unflattering statement and command that she walk, were sent en masse to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

She resigned four days later.

“I like to think we played some part in that,” laughs Mark.

In two weeks time this ‘domestic extremist,’ as he’s known by the authorities across the water, is back, bringing his new show, ‘Trespass,’ to the Playhouse.

This time the insidious privatisation of public space is in his sights and he’ll be asking of a Londonderry audience: “If the ramblers of the 1930s were here now, what would they do to open up the cities? How do we turn the skyscrapers and corporate squares into our playgrounds?”

Whilst the new show is very much informed by the London experience, Mark believes the same rules apply wherever the seekers of profit, encroach on the public realm.

“The whole of London has been hollowed out,” he says. “It’s become this yuppie, gentrified place, full of gated communities, where people can’t afford to live anymore, and where the public space is becoming increasingly cut off by private interests.”

“What I do is I go off into spaces and places that I shouldn’t be in and ask people to join me.”

He’s aware of how the property bubble and consequent crash on this side of the Irish Sea ultimately resulted in hedge funds and ‘crisis capitalists’ acquiring huge tracts of property and ‘distressed assets.’

Mark sees history repeating itself in the English capital, where the ordinary 5/8 is being priced out of housing entirely.

“I pray for a property crash in London now,” he says. “People just can’t afford to live here. You have a situation where people from London are going as far as Hull to find affordable housing.”

‘Trespass’ carries on from where his previous show, the aforementioned, ‘100 Acts of Minor Dissent’ left off.

Combining his usual mix of theatre, stand up, activism, a dash of journalism and dollop of mayhem.

Inspired by the mass trespass of Kinder Scout in 1932, Mark will turn his eye to how the government have sold off the majority of our communal spaces, from playing fields to public rights of way, setting out to try and carve a small space in the urban world where mischief and random chance can lurk.

Mark’s looking forward to his Londonderry show on March 24. He’s been a serial visitor to the town over the years.

“The first time I came over I was performing in the Bogside many, many years ago, at an arts festival, on the invitation of Eamonn McCann,” he recalls.

His previous solo shows have all gone on to have sell-out runs, garnering the highest of critical acclaim, snapping up awards and nominations and earning commissions to become their very own Radio 4 series.

He’s won a Herald Angel award, the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression award and two Scotsman Fringe Firsts, and took his latest show Cuckooed to tour Australia and New Zealand in spring 2015, and then New York this November.

Having stopped arms deals, created a manifesto and brought the winning policy to parliament, walked the entire length of the Israeli wall in the West Bank, filmed his own Channel 4 series, written books, won awards, held Guinness World Records, investigated everything from Coca-Cola to inheritance tax avoidance, given evidence to Parliamentary Select Committees, stopped multinational infrastructure deals, been arrested on numerous occasions and found a new definition for the word ‘Farage’, there is simply no way of knowing where Mark will Trespass next.

But tickets at www.derryplayhouse.co.uk//events/details/mark-thomas-trespass/595