Dispute makes a drama out of a crisis at Hen & Chickens Theatre


A new theatre production, that sees mediators resolving a dispute on stage between actors, debuts at the Hen and Chickens Theatre, Highbury on February 18.

Dispute, the world’s first live mediation theatre production, sees improvising actors playing people locked in a range of compelling high-stakes real-world disputes.

Between the two sides are two professional mediators who run the show exactly like a real-life counselling session. The outcome is entirely uncertain and unscripted.

Dispute with David and Maria

Mediator Maria Arpa, who will be on stage with her partner David Ellis, said: “Our production takes you, quite literally, into the heart of the drama unfolding on the stage.

“The actors are given all they need to understand their own positions and play that part. The rest is entirely up to us as we move through the unfolding dispute between the actors and attempt to steer it towards a satisfying final scene.”

Neighbours at war, family break-ups, business deals gone wrong, warring staff, gang conflicts and more will be covered during the show’s run at the North London theatre.

All are based on true stories of conflict that are explored and resolved through the mediation process live on stage. Human interactions will be on display at their most challenging, their most real and their most subtle.

Maria Arpa said: “It’s like improv on steroids. Our cast have carte blanche to react as they feel they would if they were their characters in a real life dispute.

“In the throes of a real dispute there is no option other than to be authentic and it will be fascinating to see in-character actors become their characters in strangely overwhelming ways.”

The performance’s principal purpose is to serve as a piece of theatre that entertains and engages the audience but its hoped that the principles of mediation will make an impression on the audience and lead to higher levels of awareness of the benefits of alternative dispute resolution.

Dispute is produced and directed by comedy director, script editor, mentor, writer and trainer Chris Head.

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