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.