2015: A Record Breaking Year at New Diorama

Friday, 1 January, 2016

With NDT shows touring internationally, playing to record sold-out audiences, winning awards & critical acclaim, 2015 was our most successful year yet.

With audience numbers in the 20,000s, community engagement exceeding a reach of 8,000 local people for the first time, more investment into our artists and access performances than ever before and our in-house production breaking box-office records, 2015 has been a bumper year for all of us at New Diorama.

Here are just a few highlights chosen chronologically by our staff and trustees from 2015.

Highlight One: The Faction's THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY

Kicking off 2015 in January, in a brand new adaptation by The Faction's Artistic Director Mark Leipacher, The Talented Mr Ripley followed the story of con artist, murderer and all round villain Tom Ripley. In an astonishing performance by Christopher Hughes, The Talented Mr Ripley gained great reviews, played to sold out audiences and has been nominated for four OffWestEnd awards, including Best Actor for Chris Hughes in the title role, Best Supporting Actress for Natasha Rickman, Best Supporting Actor for Adam Howden and Best Lighting for designer Chris Withers.

“A dark, exciting journey through one man’s murderous mind… The production hinges on the performance of Christopher Hughes as Tom, who barely leaves the stage. He’s superb, at first just a little kooky and unsure of himself, but soon becomes frightening: a large, gurning smile continually crossing his lips. But he never loses a shadowy sense of vulnerability. This is yet another bold achievement for a very talented ensemble.” 
Time Out on The Faction’s The Talented Mr Ripley.

NDT Artistic and Executive Director, David Byrne, says: 
"I loved this show. Everything from the stunning central performance, the brilliant ensemble cast to the clement and dream-like atmosphere of the European squares and streets the production evoked. It felt like a new direction for The Faction, but yet complimented their signature style perfectly. If I could live inside a theatre production, it'd be this one."

Highlight Two: Blind Summit's CITIZEN PUPPET

Working alongside Complicite Associate Catherine Alexander's Central School of Speech and Drama Students, puppet masterminds Blind Summit presented the very first outing of their new show Citizen Puppet at New Diorama for two weeks in March this year. A witty, clever and riotous send-up of verbatim theatre, this production went on to storm the Edinburgh Festival, winning a Fringe First Award and is poised to tour the UK and internationally.

“This nimble show takes a puppet-eyed view of the economic crash and both celebrates and sends up verbatim theatre. Small, yes, but sharp as a pin – and very, very funny.”
The Guardian on Blind Summit’s Citizen Puppet at the Edinburgh Festival.

NDT Projects Manager, Helen Matravers, says:
"The staff at NDT and so many of our supported theatre companies are such big fans of Blind Summit that it was great to be part of the genesis of such a brilliant show. We've had Blind Summit back since with Animo, in co-production with Improbable as part of the brilliant Suspense Festival, and I hope they return to New Diorama in 2016!"

Highlight Three: Idle Motion's SHOOTING WITH LIGHT

Shooting with Light told the story of war photographers Robert Capa and Gerda Taro. NDT Associate Ensemble Idle Motion premiered this show at New Diorama for a sell-out extended run before touring it across the UK and internationally, including dates at National Theatre China.

Full of Idle Motion's trademark inventive and visual storytelling, Shooting With Light is their best and most sophisticated work to date.

“A smart and ideas-packed show…a fitting tribute executed with bags of flair and invention.”
Time Out on Idle Motion’s Shooting with Light.

NDT's Executive Producer, Sophie Wallis, says:
"I never cease to be amazed by their inspirational, stunning storytelling and ability to transport an audience on their journey with them. It is a privilege to have them as Associates here at New Diorama, and 2015 excitingly saw them move in as a Resident Company, which will see us work even more closely with them in 2016. Shooting With Light was a stunning visual piece of theatre, delivered in Idle Motion's inimitable and breathtaking way."

Highlight Four: Box Of Trick's PLASTIC FIGURINES

Box of Tricks have been supported by New Diorama for several shows but Plastic Figurines was something really special.

Written by Ella Carmen Greenhill and premiered at Liverpool Playhouse, Plastic Figures toured the UK to sold out audiences and brilliant reviews.

"Its fleeting 70 minutes leave you with the sense of having stumbled across something quietly courageous and personal."
The Guardian on Plastic Figurines.

NDT's Projects Manager, Helen Matravers, says:
"This show was beautiful. Dealing with autism and bereavement, it was written and acted with a perfect balance of humour and acute sensitivity which left all the audiences I spoke to wanting to see it again. As funny as it was sad, I am not surprised it sold out every night!"

Highlight Five: NDT & A Younger Theatre's INCOMING Festival

2015 saw New Diorama and A Younger Theatre curate our second INCOMING Festival. Programming 27 emerging theatre companies from across the UK to perform at New Diorama over ten days, the festival attracted well over 1,000 people to buy tickets and attend free workshops.

With all tickets just £5 each, audiences could take a risk on something new with over 70% of audiences having never seen work by the companies they visited at the festival.

As well as established productions making their London premiere, such as Middle Child's Weekend Rockstars, the festival was a chance to see world premieres such as Barrel Organ's Some People Talk About Violence and Kandinsky's Dog Show.

Hull based Pub Corner Poets, whom New Diorama supported to enter - then attend - National Student Drama Festival with their show Angry, were able to showcase their work in London for the very first time as part of INCOMING Festival. Since beginning our support of Pub Corner Poets they have won the Sunday Times Playwriting Award and were nominated for a Total-Theatre award during their Edinburgh Festival run.

The festival also saw the return of Kill The Beast's New Diorama supported multi-award-winning He Had Hairy Hands which, since premiering at INCOMING Festival in 2014 has played to thousands of people across the UK, won the Peter Brook Festival Award and a Manchester Theatre Award.

NDT Artistic and Executive Director, David Byrne, says:
"INCOMING Festival is one of the best things we do here at New Diorama. Wherever I am in the country seeing work, emerging theatre companies always want to talk about the festival, how we programme it and how they can get involved. Working with Eleanor Turney and Jake Orr to deliver what I think is the best festival for emerging theatre companies in the UK today is one of the greatest parts of my job."


The best thing about producing our own work at New Diorama is getting the chance to work with our supported artists as creative peers. Down & Out In Paris and London is our fourth in-house production, made in London and premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this August.

One of the most ambitious productions we've ever put together, we were overwhelmed by the reaction from audiences: over 3,000 audience members saw the show during its run. We can't wait to transfer it back to our "home crowd" in 2016.

"An energetic production and superb script made captivating ...felt courageous and important. A significant and timely play."
The Observer on Down & Out in Paris and London

NDT's Projects Manager, Helen Matravers, says:
"Down & Out was the first in-house production I have worked on; making it was a brilliant experience. Working alongside an incredible creative team, whose enthusiasm never wavered, was the perfect introduction to New Diorama’s own creative work."

Highlight Seven: Lost Watch Theatre's GOODSTOCK

New Diorama have supported Lost Watch since they joined our Emerging Companies Programme in 2014. They always make surprising work and no two productions are ever the same. It's the constant changing of styles and tones that really mark them out as exceptional theatre-makers.

Goodstock is a deeply personal story about BRCA1, an hereditary form of breast cancer. Transferring to New Diorama after a run at the Edinburgh Festival, the production played to gripped, emotional audiences.

2015 has also seen Lost Watch tackle their first international touring dates and work is already underway for their new show. I can't wait to see what they do in 2016.

"The story of a cancer gene passed down the generations is possibly not the most obvious subject to stage, but in the hands of Goodstock it becomes magically transformed into a powerful piece of theatre that entertains, educates and informs."
The Stage on Goodstock.

NDT's Executive Producer, Sophie Wallis, says:
"Despite having showcased two shows at NDT earlier in the year, Goodstock was the first Lostwatch show I saw, and it was well worth the wait. A touching and deeply emotional piece of theatre based on true events, with knock-out performances from all three performers, left me feeling moved and inspired by the company’s ability to tackle difficult subject matters with incredible, deft skill."

Highlight Eight: Kandinsky's DOG SHOW

Co-produced by Kandinsky and New Diorama, Dog Show saw an ensemble of four performers play a range of dogs and their owners.

Touching on themes of dependance, loneliness and isolation in the city, Dog Show was a surprisingly uplifiting, comic and life-affirming piece of theatre.

The production has been nominated for the OffWestEnd award for Best Ensemble and won the Peter Brook Festival Award 2015.

"The cast are relentlessly brilliant, for 90 minutes solid they whip off coats or tug on belts (Dog Show’s interpretation of leashes), bringing to life a motley group of dog-walkers on Hampstead Heath. An absolute delight, not to be missed."
Camden New Journal on Dog Show

NDT Trustee Sofie Mason says:
"This was an incredibly clever production. The inventive style, staging and versatility of the actors led to a suspension of disbelief from the audience that I didn't think was possible. I loved this show and still laugh out loud when I remember it months after seeing it."

Highlight Nine: Breach Theatre's THE BEANFIELD

After storming the Edinburgh Festival, Breach Theatre transferred The Beanfield to NDT and are joining New Diorama Theatre's Emerging Companies Programme in 2016. 

Their run of the Total Theatre-award winning The Beanfield soon sold-out and the company are planning a UK tour for 2016, an extended run of The Beanfield at Battersea Arts Centre, as well as working on their new show. The Beanfield has also been featured in Chris Wiegand's Guardian top 10 shows of 2015.

“A truncheoning force”
Sunday Times

NDT Artistic and Executive Director, David Byrne, says:
"After an amazing year for them, I'm so glad to welcome Breach to the NDT family. Over the last month or two we've been working on their very first Arts Council application and, last week, we found out they were successful. Their new show idea is brilliant and I can't wait for you all to see it!"

Highlight Ten: Rhum and Clay's 64 SQUARES

Rhum and Clay have been a popular company in the New Diorama programme for several years now. We have supported this production since its very first outing and it was incredibly satisfying to see 64 Squares get ecstatic reviews in the national press, completely sell-out their Edinburgh Festival run and return to NDT triumphant.

Based on Stefan Zweig's The Royal Game, 64 Squares showcases the physical and comic performances Rhum and Clay are best known for, but takes the storytelling to a new level of beauty and complexity.

"Rhum and Clay have come of age as a theatre company. This beautifully put-together, intelligent and moodily atmospheric look at free will and the way individuals are tossed hither and thither by the jackboot of history."
The Guardian on 64 Squares. 

NDT Artistic and Executive Director, David Byrne, says:
"I'm not alone in my love of Rhum and Clay. 64 Squares is their best work yet. I've just seen the early development of their new show and with their Watermill co-production of Hardboiled transferring to New Diorama in Spring 2016, I know next year is going to be their biggest yet. We're lucky to have them in our programme."

Highlight Eleven: Idle Motion's THAT IS ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

The second Idle Motion show on our list and the very last show performed at New Diorama in 2015!

This Bletchley Park inspired show has toured across the UK - selling out the mainhouses at Oxford Playhouse and Hull Truck - before touring internationally. More tour dates beckon in Europe and further afield in 2016, but this marks the final UK dates of this, their most popular production.

"A celebration of the backroom women and men whose very existence was kept secret for decades. That is All You Need to Know is a gripping and taut piece of theatre worthy of its subject."
The Oxford Times on That Is All You Need To Know

NDT Trustee Tom Copley says:
"Idle Motion are the most wonderful storytellers. That Is All You Need To Know was captivating and a fascinating account of a crucial time in our country's history. It is important that this story is told, and Idle Motion tell it beautifully."


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