Making Connections at the Old Waiting Room

Interview: Rebecca McCutcheon and Em BW on Making Connections at The Old Waiting Room in Peckham

We were delighted to catch up with Rebecca McCutcheon (Creative Director of Making Connections / Director of Still Lives) and Em BW (Senior Creative Producer of Making Connections / Curator of Over Exposed) to talk about the unmissable secret art rumblings happening in Peckham Rye Station.

Making Connections | The Old Waiting Room @ Peckham Rye Station | Until 14 July

Tell us about Making Connections at The Old Waiting Room. How did the festival come about and what do you hope to achieve?

We have always been interested in how you can connect community with art. Why should art, theatre and design be for the selected few. By bringing creativity to hidden spaces and making the cost accessible we aim to invite everyone into the space and break down some of the barriers people face when engaging with arts. We also realise this is not a solution and there is a lot to still do – though making connections we are also going out into the community and building relationships, understanding the work people are already doing in Peckham and working collaboratively.

What are the highlights people should look out for?

Interview: Rebecca McCutcheon and Em BW on Making Connections at The Old Waiting Room in Peckham 1

Over Exposed | 26-29 June

Over Exposed is a four-day immersive 360 fulldome film festival celebrating experiences of connection and togetherness. Visitors will step into the immersive dome and discover untold narratives of female, non-binary and non-human vulnerability. Until recently, planetarium-like dome spaces have predominantly been used for scientific and educational purposes but artists are starting to explore the potential and new ways of communicating within these environments. The film festival also includes the London preview of Junkerry’s Together Apart.

Still Lives | 2-14 July

Unique site-specific adaptation of Noel Coward’s Still Life fused with his lesser-known Quadrille. The all-female performance will see its world premiere as the finale of Making Connections 24. The adaptation has been created especially for the historic space. he adaptation has been given the Coward estate’s blessing, as is necessary with changes of this magnitude. The result of the fusion of plays is a romantic, often funny, exploration of shifting relationships, desires and missed opportunities for love in the comings and goings of a station platform. This unique production offers audiences an opportunity to be immersed in the deeply romantic story within an extraordinary setting.

Interview: Rebecca McCutcheon and Em BW on Making Connections at The Old Waiting Room in Peckham 2

What makes the venue so special?

Hidden above Peckham Rye station and closed to the public since 1965, The Old Waiting Room has been dormant, derelict and waiting to be repurposed. It sits between two working platforms, with trains and passengers visible beyond its windows. Originally a waiting room, it has been a billiards hall, an illegal rave venue, and a pop-up arts space. Making Connections 24 will engage new audiences and maximise the potential of the space as architects, artists and activists reimagine and reinterpret it.

Who or what inspires you to put on this kind of art in Peckham?

We are both SE based and think the area has so much to offer in terms of arts and culture. The Old Waiting Room is a wonderful space – it is so unexpected – people pass through the station every day and have no idea that this grand hall is above them. We want to bring it to life and share its beaty with everyone. 

What are your favourite London haunts?

Let’s keep it SE and Peckham to align with our aims! You can eat so well in Peckham our top five places to eat are:

Taquiza (also great spicy margs), Yada’s Green Kitchen (BYOB), Ganapati , the wrap place on Rye Lane, Persepolis (BYOB).

Hannah Barry Gallery is cool, as is South London Gallery. Frank’s is fun for drinks on a sunny evening. Brick Brewery does great beer and has supplied the season with some cold cans on hot summers eves!