Gecko, BBC Arts, The Space and Illuminations collaborate to bring an adaptation the hit theatre show Institute to BBC Four

Institute - Various images from scenes from the play

In collaboration with Illuminations, The Space and BBC Arts, critically acclaimed physical theatre company Gecko presents its debut feature film Institute: an intimate, funny and moving exploration of what it means to care.

With a reputation for generating intoxicating worlds, uniquely beautiful scenes and breath-taking choreography, this new film (based on Gecko’s internationally acclaimed theatre production) is a visually captivating and poetic dissection of the way we nurture and care for ourselves and each other.

Set in a shadowy institution where residents attempt to create order from internal emotional chaos, carers become patients, memories fracture and relationships collide.

Institute asks how do we care more for each other in the target-driven machinery of modern life? Who will be there to catch us if we fall?

Institute will be broadcast as part of BBC Arts Culture In Quarantine, bringing arts and culture into the homes of the nation under lockdown, and it’s adaptation for the screen comes during a time when we all need to feel more connected than ever before.

Institute is Director Amit Lahav’s second work for screen after Gecko’s live TV performance of Time of Your Life (part of Live from Television Centre, 2015).  Since this screen debut, Amit continued to explore work in film through collaborations with directors Teresa Griffiths on Egon Schiele: Dangerous Desires (BBC2, 2018) and Adam Smith/Marcus Lyall on visuals for the Chemical Brothers’ live shows. This strengthened his understanding of the genre and the process of creating a Gecko feature film soon followed.

Director and performer Amit Lahav said: “This was an exhilarating experience from start to finish. There were many elements of the process relating to visual and aural storytelling which felt natural and instinctive to me, like the blocking and choreography of scenes for the camera and the screen play narrative, which required a different approach and different storytelling techniques to the stage production. Some theatrical sequences, which felt essential for the stage required an altogether different visual language; the scale and necessity of explosive physicality on stage could be found through a more internal, emotional expressiveness using close-up shots, reimagined choreography specific for screen and some clever editing. The camera movement and direction required a period of learning which I’ve been enveloped in over the last 5 years through various film projects and mentors. Understanding the emotionality of camera angles and movement and the camera’s expressive power has taken time to begin to understand. That said it has provided me with some thrilling added storytelling dynamism.

“This is my first feature film and it was an invaluable experience to work with such a gifted team. I have learnt so much from Emma Dalesman who was the director of photography and Todd MacDonald who was the editor – both of whom were sensitive, intelligent and extremely generous and respectful of my need to grow throughout the process.

“Film opens up new avenues in my life and in my heart that I don’t think can ever be closed again.”

Choreographer and Gecko Patron Arlene Phillips CBE commented: “I first saw Gecko’s theatre production of Institute a number of years ago and yet you would think this film was specifically made as a comment on the disturbing times we have all been living through recently. Who is telling the truth and what is the truth?  In this extraordinary film, a cross between a dream and a nightmare, movement has a liquid beauty even when sharp and aggressive, and I found myself crying at the simple moments of hope we observe through the characters, wishing their troubles would all go away and that their lives would return to normality. It is a must-see film created by Amit’s strange but telling vision of the world around us.

Jonty Claypole, Director of BBC Arts said: “Institute, from the brilliant team at Gecko, has been adapted for the screen while maintaining the theatrical nature of the piece. This unique film shows the creative vision of our theatre community to tell their stories in a captivating new way.”

Institute will be broadcast on BBC Four on Sunday, 19 July at 11.10pm and will be available on BBC iPlayer for 30 days following its initial broadcast.



Interview with Amit Lahav, Artistic Director of Gecko: “The role of an artist is to challenge the status quo.”

It seems that we are getting better at being honest with each other about our own frailties.

Institute is driven by Geckoʼs desire to explore complexities in human nature; our impulse to care and our complete reliance on one another. We are entering a time in which we are potentially more fractured and disconnected than ever before – when the time comes, will anyone really care? But a Gecko world is never as it first appears…

Gecko have teamed up with mental health charity Suffolk Mind to launch a series of  workshops & participatory opportunities.
I had a phone chat with company director and all round theatrical wizard Amit Lahav recently.
Here is what we discussed:

Amit Lahav

Amit Lahav

Hi Amit! Congratulations on Live from Television Centre – the collaboration with Battersea Arts Centre and the BBC – It really highlighted the values of British independent theatre. You’ve had quite a year haven’t you.>
I couldn’t be happier – it was outrageously ambitious and we couldn’t have pushed harder. We explored the extraordinary Gecko language inside TV and film, we went 1,000% with BAC who produced it and went in all guns blazing. It was something that everyone believed in. I think with the BBC wanted us to make something incredibly theatrical – I am genuinely proud and I had to think as a film maker, which was incredibly challenging.

There is a lot of debate around how live screenings of shows have changed theatre; for better or worse. They are increasingly popular with audiences. What do you think their impact on live arts are? 
It’s incredibly important to keep engagement live. We are in a dangerous situation of becoming disconnected in a society that has a hidden loneliness. Don’t get me wrong, there is an enormous benefit having work seen by larger audiences, but the present connection with audiences is something I wouldn’t want to move away from.

Institute is a remarkable production exploring troubled men. 
At the heart of Institute is the question to do with masculinity and culture, in these times people are trying to survive more than it seems. It’s subterranean, on a multitude of levels, the experiences men have on an internal and external level.

Does it feels like more is required of audiences than just talking about the ‘issues’ and how have people responded to the show out on tour?
We have so frequently come across people who have been affected by Institute, who at the end of the production have been unable to move from their seats. They want to talk to us, to someone. Out on tour there is someone from the charity Suffolk Mind as well as a panel discussion with service providers. Uniquely, as well there is someone local to the venues who have proximity to that venue and have used those resources available to them.

Political correctness and art don’t *usually* mix well. Institute feels like a genuinely political piece of theatre, would you agree? 
The role of an artist is to challenge the status quo. All Gecko shows are political. In some way being the bearer of truth, Gecko is an important commodity and in these times even more critical.

What would you say have been the most rewarding moments of getting Institute in front of audiences? 
I think that what I have been learning about mental health has been so extraordinary because it’s shone a mirror about where Institute came from within me, there is something very powerful in that. At one end on the spectrum there is wellness and the other there is not. You can be on that continuum somewhere and that stress can be the crossover. The fragility of being a human being can take you by surprise. You might know someone who is suffering. It’s important to reiterate that there is help out there and it’s good to talk about these things.”

Nuffield / Southampton /

Performances2 – 5 November at 7.30pm / tickets

Ancillary programme2 November at 9pm – post show panel discussion (free with show ticket)

4 November at 2pm – 5pm – workshop (free with show ticket, registration information will be available on the venue website)

Playhouse / Liverpool /

Performances16 – 19 November at 7.30pm (except for: 5.30pm on 17 November) / tickets

Ancillary programme17 November at 7pm – post show panel discussion (free with show ticket)

17 November at 12pm-3pm – workshop (free with show ticket, registration information will be available on the venue website)