Actors Touring Company probe power, politics & Living With The Lights On

The Suppliant Women

The London-based Actors Touring Company is taking three astonishing new co-productions on the road in 2016/7, it has been announced.

ATC artistic director Ramin Gray and executive director Andrew Smaje have said that the trio is the company’s largest ever programme of work.

The Suppliant Women by Aeschylus is the world’s second oldest play. Never seen on the British stage, ATC is staging a new version by David Greig, directed by Ramin Gray, and co-produced with the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh.

Winter Solstice by prolific German playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig is another English language premiere go to Richmond’s Orange Tree Theatre in a specially commissioned translation by David Tushingham.

mark lockyer, living with the lights on

And the revelatory Living with the Lights On, written and performed by RSC actor Mark Lockyer, returns after a successful UK tour in spring 2016.

Now co-produced with the Young Vic, it plays in the Maria in December (read Stage Review’s four-star verdict of the 2015 production

The Suppliant Women reunites the world-class creative team behind the hugely acclaimed The Events – writer David Greig, director Ramin Gray and composer John Browne.

With local participation at its heart, the work revives the tradition of ancient Greek theatre by recruiting performers from the local community to form a chorus who drive the narrative forward and create an extraordinary theatrical event.

With choral odes composed by John Browne and accompanied on the aulos (the rarely heard original Greek double pipe), the local participants represent 50 young women who flee forced marriage in Egypt to seek asylum in Greece.

This is a story about the plight of refugees, moral and human rights, civil war, democracy and ultimately the triumph of love – a tale that echoes down the ages to find striking and poignant resonance today.

Winter Solstice is set during tense family Christmas when festivities are interrupted by a stranger with familiar but disturbing politics. Family, betrayal and the resurgence of the far right reverberate through the UK premiere of this razor-sharp and timely comedy.

Schimmelpfennig is one of Germany’s most performed playwrights with productions of his work in over 40 countries. Previous plays include The Golden Dragon and Arabian Night, both presented by Actors Touring Company.

Living With The Lights On is a personal memoir of Mark’s descent into and recovery from mental illness.

Ramin Gray, who directs all three productions, said: “I’m proud to lead a small company that is taking on the large, burning issues of our time with two plays that interrogate migration and politics from opposite ends of the playwriting spectrum.

“And, by simultaneously zooming in on the intimate, private life of an actor, I’m pleased to foreground the human figure that is at the core of all dramatic enquiry.

“This is ATC’s biggest ever programme of work, a testament to the hard work of our tiny team”.

Andrew Smaje, who joined the company in March, added: “What a thrilling time to join ATC. Two new collaborations with brilliant venues both large and small, revisiting one of the company’s key partners at the Young Vic, and above all making work which is outward-facing, rooted in community and about what’s happening in the world, right now.”

The Suppliant Women will play The Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh (30 Sept – 15 Oct); Grand Opera House Belfast (21 – 22 Oct) and Northern Stage, Newcastle Upon Tyne (November 3-5).

Winter Solstice plays at the Orange Tree Theatre from January 12-February 11

Living With The Lights On runs at The Bike Shed, Exeter, from November 29-December 3 and Young Vic Theatre, London, December 7-23.

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