Headlong Announce Groundbreaking Experiment in Sustainable Theatre Making

A Play for the living in a time of extinction

Headlong and the Barbican, have today announced the UK premiere of A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction by award-winning playwright Miranda Rose Hall.

Katie Mitchell is drawing on and furthering her work on the Sustainable Theatre? projectwith this production and tour, which she originally conceived with the support of the French choreographer Jérôme Bel and Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne. A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction will subsequently tour across the UK, without people or materials physically travelling. Furthermore, Mitchell will direct the performance which will be powered by bicycles peddled in real time throughout the duration of the show. 

Opening in London at the Barbican (26-29 April 2023), the UK premiere will be designed by Moi Tran, who has recently been appointed Resident Artist/Designer at Headlong. 

Mitchell and the creative team will produce blueprints containing sustainability guides which will be given to each subsequent venue in the first off-grid tour of its kind in the UK. Local teams will stage and perform the play, within the parameters of the blueprints and using the same renewable bike technology, therefore eliminating the need for physical travel. Headlong will present A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction at Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Live Theatre Newcastle, New Vic Newcastle-under-Lyme, and  York Theatre Royalwith further venues along with casting and creative teams to be announced shortly. 

“The difference between death and extinction is this: death is to cease to exist. Extinction is to extinguish. I think of death as individual. Extinction is collective.”

Naomi is part of a touring theatre company and they have made a play especially for you – those who are living through extinction – except the actors haven’t shown up yet. We don’t know why, and maybe they will, but in the meantime, Naomi has a plan. Miranda Hall’s darkly funny and uplifting play explores what it means to be human in an era of man-made extinction.

Katie Mitchell says: “It’s exciting to be working with Headlong on this production to roll out a radical international touring model across the UK. It’s crucial that we develop new ways of making and touring theatre in response to the existential crisis we are all facing. I’m also thrilled to be working with Moi Tran for the first time

Holly Race Roughan says: “Responding to the climate crisis as a theatre company feels urgent but often paralysing, especially at a time when just creating theatre is a challenge, without the added pressure of doing so sustainably. To be able to embark on a national project that explores this dilemma with joy and honesty in both its content and creation process, is exhilarating. As a touring company, a project that requires touring without moving people or materials, is a counter intuitive challenge but we are finding that it is exactly what we need to inspire creativity, national collaboration and dare to do things differently. Our hope is that we, as an organisation, along with our collaborators and audiences, are invigorated by this process and empowered to adapt and imagine alternative ways of doing things going forward. To co-curate this national project with Katie Mitchell, who brings with her a wealth of experience in international feminist eco theatre-making, is thrilling.

A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction is Headlong’s second major touring experiment, part of the company’s ongoing commitment to rethink theatre-making in a climate emergency. In 2020 Headlong produced Signal Fires, a national festival that saw over forty companies come together for the first time to tour a single idea, at a time when traditional touring was not possible. Headlong have committed to staging one major touring experiment and one piece that explores a different facet of climate change, as part of our commitment to rethinking what it means to be a touring theatre company during the climate emergency. 

A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction is Co-produced by Headlong and the Barbican. 

Presented by Headlong, Barbican, Belgrade Theatre, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Live Theatre Newcastle, New Vic, York Theatre Royal. 

The original production of “A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction” directed by Katie Mitchell was created at the Theatre Vidy-Lausanne as part of the project  “Sustainable Theatre?”, conceived by Katie Mitchell, Jérôme Bel and Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne, with the collaboration of the Competence Centre in Sustainability of the University of Lausanne, co-produced by STAGES – Sustainable Theatre Alliance for a Green Environmental Shift (NTGent – Théâtre de Liège – National Theatre of Croatia in Zagreb – MC93, Maison de la culture de Seine-Saint-Denis – Trafo House of Contemporary Arts – Piccolo Teatro di Milano, Teatro d’Europa – Lithuanian National Drama Theatre – Teatro Nacional D. Maria II – Maribor Slovene National Theatre – The Royal Dramatic Theatre, Dramaten, Stockholm – National Theater & Concert Hall, Taipei) and co-funded by the European Union. “Sustainable Theatre ?” includes two shows and a workshop touring in the form of scripts recreated locally. 

Miranda Rose Hall’s A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction was first commissioned by LubDub Theatre Co.

Lisa Maguire Appointed New Executive Director and Joint CEO of Headlong

Lisa Maguire

Award-winning theatre company Headlong, has today announced Lisa Maguire as their new Executive Director and Joint CEO. Lisa, who is currently Executive Producer and Deputy CEO at National Theatre of Wales, will take up the position from Alan Stacey in Spring 2022.

Lisa joins Headlong after a nine year tenure at National Theatre Wales. As Executive Producer and Deputy CEO she oversaw the creation of over 40 multi-artform productions in an extraordinary range of locations across Wales, internationally and online. These included critically acclaimed  productions such as Tonypandemonium, The Gathering/Yr Helfa, Mametz, Iliad, City of the Unexpected, We’re Still Here, Refrain and On Bear Ridge. For seven years she worked as Executive Producer and joint CEO at Frantic Assembly where she helped create an award-winning series of productions watched by over 175,000 people in the UK and internationally. Lisa previously worked at the Young Vic and Lyric Hammersmith and her work as an independent producer has included projects with Manchester International Festival, The Work Theatre Collective and the London fringe. She holds a degree in Drama and Theatre Arts from Goldsmiths College, University of London, and is a trustee of Common Wealth.

In her new position as Executive Director and Joint CEO, Lisa will work closely with Headlong’s Artistic Director Holly Race Roughan as the company continues to bring innovative new writing, reimagined classics and influential 20th Century plays by some of the UK’s finest artists to audiences across the country. Together Holly and Lisa will lead Headlong as it creates work that responds to the significant shifts in the UK’s cultural, social and political landscape, nurtures the next generation of artists and theatre makers and delivers on its commitments to justice and equality.  

Lisa Maguire says: “I’m thrilled to be joining Holly and the team at Headlong. It’s been an honour to be a part of the National Theatre Wales journey. Connecting with the incredible people and places of Wales, and collaborating with remarkable theatre makers and communities to create extraordinary experiences. I’m excited about working with Holly to explore how a producing powerhouse like Headlong can respond to the challenges this moment presents for reaching out to audiences across the UK and the opportunities of contributing positively towards a fairer, more equal and more sustainable theatre community. All whilst retaining the bold and original storytelling the company is renowned for.”

Holly Race Roughan, Artistic Director of Headlong says: “I’m delighted Lisa is bringing her integrity, brilliance and wealth of touring experience to Headlong. I cannot wait to get stuck in with her as we navigate the next phase of Headlong’s adventure, alongside our freelance community. There are many exciting opportunities ahead and Lisa is expertly placed to make the most of them. A hugely valuable asset to the company, Lisa will take over from Alan Stacey who leaves Headlong in excellent shape for its next chapter.

Donna Munday, Chair of Headlong says: “I am delighted that Lisa has been appointed to be Executive Director and Joint CEO of Headlong, following a rigorous recruitment process. It is an exciting time for the company, having appointed Holly Race Roughan as our new Artistic Director earlier this year, and we are looking forward to Holly and Lisa’s partnership creating innovative and exhilarating theatre for audiences across the UK. I am confident that Lisa’s vision, expertise, entrepreneurship and commitment to making theatre accessible for all will make a significant contribution to the long-term success of Headlong. Everyone on the board is looking forward to working with her.”

Clive Jones, Chair of National Theatre Wales says: “We will be very sorry to lose Lisa from National Theatre Wales. She has been a vital part of our leadership over the last nine years and has made a huge contribution to the work of NTW and the wider theatre culture in Wales. We will miss her talent, commitment, enthusiasm and expertise. We wish her every success in her new role at Headlong. Diolch yn Fawr Lisa.”

Headlong and Theatre Centre partner with TikTok to present TikTok Shocks

TikTok Shocks

New partnership between Headlong, Theatre Centre and TikTok will give 13 young freelance artists a voice and platform to experiment in making theatrical, horror-themed performance this Halloween. 

Headlong and Theatre Centre have joined forces with TikTok, the leading destination for short-form mobile video content, to help inspire and connect the next generation of theatre makers. Combining digital theatre making with an exploration of form and dissection of the horror genre, TikTok Shocks will look to equip young artists with the necessary tools, experience and practical skills to support them in beginning a career in the performing arts.

Thirteen artists aged 18-26 from across the UK, have been selected to take part in the programme. The artists are: Alice Flynn (She/they – Wokingham), Bodhrán Mullan (He/they – Aberdeen), Caitlin Magnall-Kearns (She/they – Belfast), Dan Morrison (He/him – Largs), Daniel Raja (He/him – Llanfairpwllgwyngyll), Eleanor McKenzie (She/her – London), Elizabeth Logan (She/her – Manchester), Hannah Balogun (She/her – London), Leo Shak (He/him – Labert), Leonisha Barley (She/her – Liverpool), Milla Sutton (He/they – London), Stephanie Soh (She/her – London), Tiah-Paige Burrell (They/them – Great Yarmouth).

Over the past two months the artists have worked with leading industry professionals receiving weekly Skillshare workshops and bespoke mentoring sessions. These Skillshare sessions have covered everything from the dramaturgy of horror and building tension through sound design, through to how to utilise platforms such as TikTok in their creative practice and the practical skills to help them navigate a career as a freelance artist.  

In the eight weeks leading up to Halloween, the artists have been given a series of 24-hour creative challenges to respond to using TikTok. Each challenge will see the artists create 30sec – 2min videos demonstrating the skills they have learnt over the course of the programme. The creative challenges and the artists’ responses will be published on the discovery homepage on TikTok which will launch on 16 October. Community users will be encouraged to join in, share and upload their own creative video responses to each challenge.

The programme will culminate in an event on 31 October at 180 The Strand that will bring together and showcase the work produced by the thirteen artists over the past two months. 

Holly Race Roughan, Artistic Director of Headlong said:

The last 18 months have been  a ‘horror show’ of sorts, and it has been more difficult than ever for young people looking to begin a career in the arts. Together with Theatre Centre and TikTok we are looking to empower young artists from across the UK, helping them forge connections and  learn new skills whilst they create fun, theatrical content in the very medium they are native in. Using the horror genre the young artists are exploring new ground on the intersection  between live theatre and the digital auditorium as they scare and thrill our audiences in time for Halloween…”

Rob Watt, Artistic Director of Theatre Centre said:

It’s been truly inspiring to have worked with 13 young and diverse artists from across the country. They have embraced experimenting with form, liberated their ideas and essentially, scared the wits out of us all!

James Stafford, Head of Partnerships & Community TikTok UK said:

“Halloween is always a huge moment on TikTok with creators coming to the platform to share everything from ghoulish beauty looks to spooky bakes, so we are thrilled to be able to support the next generation of young artists as they take this one step further, exploring the horror genre in app.”

“On TikTok, we have seen a community of theatre makers, institutions and audiences stay truly connected, sharing their creativity and passion for performance through a digital lens. We are excited to collaborate with the Headlong and Theatre Centre to support emerging theatre makers along their journey into the arts; we cannot wait to see what TikTok shocks has in store for us all this Halloween!”