2016: An Award-Winning Year of Theatre At New Diorama

1 January 2017

2016 has been our most successful and exciting year ever at New Diorama. Here are just a few of our favourite productions and staff highlights.

The last twelve months here at New Diorama have been by far our most successful yet. Thank you so much for your support over the last year - here are our highlights month by month...

2016 was a bumper year for all of us at New Diorama, with audience numbers in excess of 22,000 and our Community Programme engaging more than 9,000 local people for the first time. Our growing Artist Development Programme, in-house productions and access performances have reached more people than ever before.

In recognition of all that's been happening over the last year, New Diorama and our supported work has won several major theatre awards in the last twelve months, including the main Empty Space Peter Brook Award, a Fringe First Award, and Best Ensemble at the OffWestEnd Awards. NDT has also just been shortlisted for Fringe Theatre of the Year and the Innovation Prize at The Stage Awards, followed most recently by the news that our Artistic & Executive Director, David Byrne, has made the Stage 100 list of the most influential people in theatre, for the very first time. So quite a lot to be excited about!

We wanted to take this opportunity to pick out just a few chronological highlights form our staff and Trustees from 2016.

Nothing that we’ve achieved would have been possible without the considerable talent of the theatre companies we are privileged to support, audiences who come time and again to take a risk on something new, our local residents who have made us the creative heart of their community, and the funders who value New Diorama and the work we do.

Highlight One: The Faction's RICHARD III

Kicking off 2016 was a revival of The Faction's first ever production, a 21-strong ensemble version of Richard III. The production marked The Faction's final show at New Diorama after five years of being an Associate Ensemble, winning awards, playing to sold-out audiences and great critical response. Since, the company has produced work at Southwark Playhouse, Selfridges and internationally, with their King Lear recently premerieing in Lebanon.  

“Mark Leipacher’s Richard III is fluid and assured, particularly in the tauter second half.”
The Stage on Faction's Richard III

NDT's Artistic and Executive Director, David Byrne, says: 
"It has been a privilege and joy supporting The Faction at New Diorama. Their ambitious new stagings of Mary Stuart, Schiller's Fiesco and the exceptional Talented Mr Ripley were particular highlights. After years of support, 2016 was the right moment for The Faction to move on but we'll always have a close relationship with this brilliant company - especially since co-Artistic Director Rachel Valentine Smith is now a New Diorama Trustee!"


Hardboiled: The Fall Of Sam Shadow told the story of noir detectives taking on a seedy corrupt underworld in the unmistakable Rhum & Clay physical theatre style. This co-production with the Watermill Theatre played to sold-out audiences and rave reviews. Directed and written by Beth Flintoff, the production is currently nominated for the OffWestEnd awards for Best Set and Best Director.

"Pulled off triumphantly... a huge achievement"
Time Out

"The Lecoq-trained company craft a procession of vivid stage pictures which loom through clouds of haze"
The Stage

NDT's Executive Producer, Sophie Wallis, says:
"Rhum and Clay's work is always special, but combined with the talents of writer/director Beth Flintoff, the stunning design and the extraordianry lighting from Nick Flintoff, Hardboiled was one of the biggest highlights of 2016."

2016 - Our Artist Development Programme Update

2016 saw us launch our pioneering Artist Development Programme - a culmination of all our learning over the last 5 years. The reaction was overwhelming from artists, our partner organisations and audiences, with Exeunt Magazine describing it as "possibly the most exciting Artist Development Scheme Britain has ever seen."

Everything we do is designed to overcome the many challenges and hurdles early-career theatre companies face. This Artist Development Programme tackles many of these issues head on, finding new solutions to old problems and presenting completely new ideas that we’re proud to be pioneering for the first time. 

In 2016, we've worked with over 70 theatre companies, bringing many to London for the first time. We've invested in leadership for our supported female artistic directors and producers, provided over 30 weeks of free rehearsal space for BAMER led companies and invested a record amount of money into early career theatre companies. Our Cash Flow Fund, since launching, has lent over £100,000, interest-free, to artists to make exciting things happen that, otherwise, would have been impossible. And this is just the tip of the iceberg of what we've been doing in 2016.

To deliver all this work, we’ve partnered with theatres from across the UK. Our national footprint has never been greater and over the next few years, we’ll be bringing work to London that, without our support, would never be able to perform in the Capital.

We are absolutely delighted that, in recognition of our commitment to supporting artists, we have been nominated for the Innovation Award at this year's Stage Awards, alongside a nomination for Fringe Theatre of the Year. A truly wonderful way to see out the year, and our fingers are firmly crossed!

Highlight Three: Spare Tyre's THE GARDEN

March saw NDT Associate Spare Tyre return to the stage, this time with a bold, new immersive installation aimed at dementia sufferers and their carers. The Garden brought the outdoors indoors, with a stunning environment to awaken your imagination on a journey through the seasons.

Developed to tour to residential care homes, The Garden formed a very special part of our season and was the first time this innovative installation was brought to a public venue in England. Working with Spare Tyre is always a wonderful, moving and life-affirming experience, and The Garden didn't disappoint. 

NDT's Producer, Helen Matravers, says:
"The Garden was a beautifully devised and performed experience, engaging every sense and surrounding audiences with a complete experience of the seasons. Spare Tyre did a brilliant job of engaging with people whose lives have been affected by dementia, creating a safe space of tranquility which could be enjoyed by all. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and it's something I would love to explore doing again."

Highlight Four: Engineer Theatre Collective's RUN

April saw the return of Engineer Theatre Collective to the New Diorama stage, this time with their first longer run and their new show Run. Developed in conversation with the freshest financial minds and inspired by the true story of Moritz Erhardt, (a 21-year-old intern who died at his London flat after reportedly working 72 hours straight), Run blended Engineer's trademark striking physicality, sound and contemporary design to expose the glamour and grind of the Square Mile in 2016.

The show played to sold-out houses and rave reviews, before being nominated for Best Direction (Jesse Fox & Simon Lyshon) and Best Ensemble at the OffWestEnd awards

"intelligent production with fine performances and its finger on the pulse." 
The Stage

"a small but sparkling play"
The New Yorker Magazine

NDT's Executive Producer,Sophie Wallis, says:
"Despite having previously performed at NDT as part of our Two Night Stand Scheme, RUN was my first experience of seeing Engineer's work. I blown away by the quality of the performances, by the inventive use of the space in the round and the intense audience experience. It was a joy to watch this exceptional piece of theatre get both the audiences and reviews it deserved."

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

2016 saw New Diorama and A Younger Theatre curate our third INCOMING Festival. Programming 27 emerging theatre companies from across the UK to perform at New Diorama over ten days, the festival attracted well over 1,300 people to buy tickets and attend free workshops.

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

Including sell-out hits such as Sh!t Theatre's Letters to Windsor House and The Pretend Men's Police Cops, the festival was a chance to see world premieres such as Lost Watch Theatre's Flew the Coop and Kandinsky's Still Ill - both of which form part of our 2016/17 Season.  

"a supremely generous ensemble too, putting in supercharged performances"
The Stage on The Pretend Men's Police Cops 

“A beautiful play about the beauty & preciousness of language. About as promising as debuts get.”
Time Out on Walrus Theatre's Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons

"Letters to Windsor House suggests that London’s housing crisis doesn’t just destroy relationships, it undermines personal ethics and basic decency, too."
The Guardian on Sh!t Theatre's Letters To Windsor House

NDT's Artistic and Executive Director, David Byrne, says:
"INCOMING Festival is one of the very best things we do here at New Diorama. 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 reputation and scale of Incoming really grew in 2016 and we're already planning for the future of this very special festival of new work and talent." 


Down & Out In Paris and London was our fourth in-house production, made in London, premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2015 before a full London transfer to NDT & Greenwich Theatre in April 2016. 

The most ambitious in-house production we've ever put together, we were overwhelmed by the reaction from audiences: over 5,000 audience members during its sold-out run at New Diorama, Greenwich Theatre and in Edinburgh. The production is currently nominated for six OffWestEnd Awards including Best New Play, Best Director, Best Ensemble, Best Lighting, Best Sound and Best Costume designs.

"An energetic production and superb script made captivating ...felt courageous and important. A significant and timely play."
The Guardian

"The writing is outstandingly vivid and pointed. Highly relevant, highly reflective, and highly recommended."
The Morning Star

"It should be obligatory viewing for everyone."
BIG ISSUE on Down & Out in Paris and London

NDT Trustee, Tom Copley, says:
"Down and Out in Paris and London was a stunning production which seamlessly wove together Orwell's words with Polly Toynbee's Hard Work. It was a show that reminded us that the grinding poverty Orwell experienced is still very much with us today. It's difficult to pick a favourite from amongst the many incredible shows produced or supported by NDT, but this is undoubtedly one of the best."

Highlight Seven: Breach Theatre's TANK

Breach Theatre have previously been supported by New Diorama as part of our Two Nights Stand Scheme with their sell-out hit The Beanfield back in 2015, ahead of an ambitious national tour. In 2016 this exceptional company gave audiences a first look at the their new show TANK at INCOMING Festival, before taking the Edinburgh Festival by storm. Returning from Scotland, a Fringe First Award in hand, TANK played to a completely sold-out week at NDT.

Based on true events, TANK tells the story of a researcher who lived with a dolphin for ten weeks to try and teach him to speak English – part of a NASA-funded research project into human-animal communication. Condemned by the wider scientific community as an elaborate circus trick, the experiment remains a controversial episode in the space race between the two Cold War superpowers.

"A funny, dark, and strangely dreamy work...a tricksy and fascinating piece of theatre." 
Time Out

"an engaging deadpan satire"
The Guardian

NDT's Producer, Helen Matraver, says:
"A mad, brilliant and incredibly thought provoking show - I loved every minute. Breach's theatre is unique and a delight to watch. I can't wait to see their next show, which we'll be supporting the development of in 2017!"

2016 New Diorama Community Programme Update

2016 has been a record-breaking year for our Community Outreach Programme, with community engagement peaking an all-time high. Over 9,000 people took part in creative activities, workshops or attended community-focused shows, and our work in West Euston has attracted new support, with funding from the newly set up Regent's Place Community Fund, as well as The Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund and John Lyon's Foundation. Of course none of it would have been possible without the continuing support of our Principle Supporter British Land, who we are delighted to say have recently confirmed they will continue to support New Diorama's outreach work as part of a new three year funding agreement.  

In 2016 we welcomed Scene and Heard to the theatre for the very first time with their fantastic performances as part of 'Me and My Shadow'. Every performance was a sell-out success, and we were delighted to welcome so many new audience members from our local community to the theatre.

NDT continues to work regularly with our brilliant Community Partners, including The Third Age Project, whose annual panto attracted a record-level audience, and New Horizon Youth Centre who attended shows and workshops at NDT, as well as performing their own response piece to a packed auditorium as part of NDT's outreach work on our in-house show, 'Down & Out in Paris and London'.

2016 also saw New Diorama launch Camden Youth Theatre, in partnership with Camden People's Theatre and Fitzrovia Centre. Meeting weekly the group devise and perform their own work, and it is completely free to attend. 

CYT will be performing We Wanted to Be the Sky, their debut show, at New Diorama in January 2017. CYT is kindly supported by the Diorama Arts Studios.

"A very bright debut from a shining company." 
Camden New Journal on We Wanted to Be the Sky.

Highlight Eight: Box of Tricks' PLASTIC FIGURINES

Box of Tricks have been supported by New Diorama for several shows now and Plastic Figurines was their best production yet. Returning after a week-long sold-out run in 2015, the show ran for a full four weeks in October. 

Written by Ella Carmen Greenhill and originally premiered at Liverpool Playhouse, Plastic Figurines toured the UK to sold-out audiences and brilliant reviews, as well as being the first production in our programme to host a Relaxed Performance as part of our Access Programme 2016/17.

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

"This is a small, quiet piece...yet its direct emotional appeal and simple truthfulness give it a surprising heft and it is, in its understated way, a mighty miniature."
The Times on Plastic Figurines

NDT's Producer, 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 moved and wanting to see it again. As funny as it was sad, it's one of the best productions ever to be on stage at NDT."

Highlight Nine: Kandinsky's STILL ILL

Kandinsky returned to New Diorama in 2016 with STILL ILL. Eagerly anticipated after the multi-award winning Dog Show, the show played to sold-out houses across its run and rave reviews. 

Co-produced by Complicite, STILL ILL centred around Functional Neurological Disorder. Performed by three actors and underprinned by a haunting live musical score, STILL ILL wowed audiences with its inventiveness and complexity. 

“A layered, stripped-back, 100-minute drama rife with humour, symbolism, and intelligent use of technology.”
The Stage

"Facts, fiction and neurological disease intertwine in this fascinating drama from rising stars Kandisnky."
Time Out

NDT's Executive Producer, Sophie Wallis, says:
"It has been so exciting watching this show develop from its first outing at INCOMING Festival. The final production was something really special, full of Kandinsky's trademark inventive theatricality. Still Ill tackled a difficult subject in a nuanced and gripping way, and it was fantastic to see the audiences' responses. As usual from this talented company - a real highlight of our season."

Highlight Ten: Rhum & Clay's TESTOSTERONE

NDT Associate Ensemble Rhum and Clay are always a popular feature in our programme. Following the success of 64 Squares & Hardboiled, the company returned with a collaboration with theatre-maker Kit Redstone, exploring everything that makes men who they are and what they want to be.

"Testosterone is everything good theatre should be, powerful, emotional, entertaining and thought provoking and I cannot recommend it highly enough."
London Theatre1 on Testosterone.  

"Lucid, funny, and moving"
Exeunt on Testosterone.

NDT's Technical Manager, Penny Rischmiller, says:
"I'm not alone in my love of Rhum and Clay, and couldn't wait to see Testosterone. Bold, colourful and inventive, Testosterone is the kind of show that I love. The journey through Kit's mind, wonderfully random and tangential, highlighted by Rhum and Clay's physical theatre and high energy, made this a great show."

Highlight Eleven: Idle Motion's SHOOTING WITH LIGHT

November saw us host a very special performance at New Diorama, with the last ever performance of international hit Shooting with Light from our brilliant Resident Company, Idle Motion, to an invited audience of friends and family.

We have watched, supported and hosted Idle Motion and their breathtaking work for a number of years, and have enjoyed every moment of their journey as exceptional theatremakers. During this break from theatre-making we wish them enormous luck with all that they do. 

"A passionate story of a fearless photojurnalist."
The Guardian on Shooting with Light

"A flamboyant, satisfying piece of theatre that’s grounded by the integrity of its central love story."
The Stage on Shooting with Light

NDT's Artistic & Executive Director, David Byrne, says:
"Supporting Idle Motion has been the privilege of a lifetime. One of my favourite theatre companies, they have delighted audiences at New Diorama, audiences across the UK and internationally. It's been a joy to collaborate with Kate Stanley on making our in-house show, Down & Out in Paris and London, and I'm delighted to announce here that Ellie Simpson will be working on our new NDT devised show in 2017."

Highlight Twelve: Fight in The Dogs' RICKY WHITTINGTON AND HIS CAT

Here at New Diorama we've never really "done" Christmas shows. But Ricky Whittington & His Cat, the alt-panto written by Daran Johnson (co-writer BBC’s Siblings, Flat TV, People Time) and Liam Williams (twice Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee, People Time) has changed all that.

A New Diorama co-production, Fight In The Dog's political, all singing and mostly dancing show, performed by a comedy star-studded cast including Charlotte Ritchie (Fresh Meat & Call the Midwife), has wowed audiences since its first week, and sold-out right the way through to its last.

Nominated for the OffWestEnd award for Best Ensemble, this is an incredible show and we couldn't have asked for a better way to see out 2016, or to see in 2017 for that matter!  

"Devilishly intelligent, relentlessly meta-theatrical, studded with genuine belly laughs, pitch-perfect original songs & puns to satisfy the purest of panto lovers"
Time Out

"A sharply written, fully-formed, politically-edged panto for austerity Britain, complete with toe-tapping song and dance numbers. A modern-day panto that’s got everything."

NDT's Artistic & Executive Director says: 
"2016 was a great year for new company Fight In The Dog. It's been a privilege to support them and see their plans and vision come to fruition. You'll be hearing a lot more from this company and each of this exceptionally talented ensemble."

Stagetext Captioned Performance at NDT

Working with Stagetext, New Diorama is delighted that there have been Captioned Access Performances throughout 2016, and for the first time ever, with thanks to support from Arts Council England, we were able to extend our access offering to include Relaxed Performances across our whole season.

New Diorama is the only small unfunded theatre in the UK offering regular access performances to open up our shows for the benefit of those deaf, deafened, hard of hearing or for whom English is not a first language, with our programme of Relaxed Performances offering a theatre environment for those with sensory disorders, on the autism spectrum, or simply those who may benefit from a more relaxed theatre environment. 

With access performances regularly selling out, we're overjoyed we're able to continue making the work of our exceptional emerging theatre companies accessible for all.

This wouldn't be possible without grants from Arts Council England, British Land, Garfield Weston Foundation, Fenton Arts Trust, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, The Regent's Place Community Fund and London Community Foundation

Thank You for everything in 2016: we couldn't have done it without you!

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