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13th Sep 2013 - 5th Sep 2015

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1984 Transfers to the West End

Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan's critically acclaimed production 1984  will return to the Playhouse Theatre for a second West End run.

The show previews from June 12 and runs until September 5 before embarking on an international tour.

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1984 Reviewed


'It is doubleplusgood. It's not easy to make something vividly dramatic from a novel of ideas. This pulls it off in style.'

★ ★ ★ ★★

'Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan have pulled off something tremendous'
★ ★ ★ ★★

'Headlong’s brilliant stage version ... Rather than just tell the story, this show, written and directed by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan, creates a dynamic response that strips away complacency and plays on those creeping anxieties about trust, manipulation and freedom.'
★ ★ ★ ★★

'This extraordinary adaptation by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan for Headlong makes a virtue of the book’s internal nature... It is a troublingly, often horrifyingly sensual experience, a tech-enhanced, heavily stylised race through a mind collapsing under terrible pressure.'
★ ★ ★ ★★

'Brilliantly imaginative adaptation of George Orwell's great dystopian novel'
★ ★ ★ ★★

People Places Things

Emma was having the time of her life. Now she’s in rehab.

Her first step is to admit that she has a problem. But the problem isn’t with Emma, it’s with everything else. She needs to tell the truth. But she’s smart enough to know that there’s no such thing. When intoxication feels like the only way to survive the modern world, how can she ever sober up?

People, Places and Things is the latest collaboration between Headlong and the National Theatre, following the acclaimed Earthquakes in London and The Effect.

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1984 Trailer

Television static flashes across the screen. A man (Winston Smith) dressed in drab clothes lifts his head from a table top, a series of words flashes across the scene (AUSTERITY, LOVE, POWER). Winston opens a diary a picks up his pen. The scene cuts to a group of people screaming at the projection of a man while the phrases 'FREEDOM IS SLAVERY' and 'WAR IS PEACE'  flash on screen, followed by more phrases that flash past too quickly to read. The scene cuts to a couple kissing before more phrases flash on screen.

The Glass Menagerie

A black and white photograph of Ellen McDougall

We're thrilled to announce that Ellen McDougall will direct Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie in a startling new adaptation for Headlong. The production will be on tour throughout the autumn.

A co-production with the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse and West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Jennifer Haley and Jeremy Herrin on The Nether

Jennifer Haley and Jeremy Herrin are interviewed on stage. The stage is empty apart from three chairs and a table. The is a projection of the title 'The Nether' on a plane grey backdrop. The speakers hold microphones. The shadowy heads of members of the audience can be seen at the bottom of the shot.

How do you write a play about the ethics of online existence? How do you stage a virtual world?

Playwright Jennifer Haley and director Jeremy Herrin discuss The Nether and the process behind creating Headlong and the Royal Court’s production of the show, in a discussion chaired by Headlong's Associate Artist, Sarah Grochala.

1984 - Rehearsal Diary Week 1

Since its publication in 1949, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four has become one of the most popular and iconic novels of all time. It was named Britain’s eighth favourite novel in the 2003 BBC Big Read survey. It appears on countless lists of books that everyone must read, is one of the top ten most searched books on the internet and a staple of school syllabuses and reading lists across the world. In his review of 1984 for the New York Review of Books, Timothy Garton Ash calls it ‘indispensable for understanding modern history’. But how does one set about adapting a book with such a weight of cultural history and influence behind it?

Ancient Greek Theatre

Euripides’ Medea was first performed in at the City Dionysia Festival in Athens in 431BC, nearly 2,500 years ago. What would it have been like to have attended the original production? 

1984 Digital Double

Is Big Brother watching you?

As you use the internet, your activity is tracked and monitored. This data is collected by organisations whose interests range from marketing to national security and is used to build up a profile of who you are based on your online activity. This is your “digital double”.

Click here to discover how Big Brother sees you.*



*Best viewed on an iPhone or Android phone or using a Chrome or Safari browser.

The Seagull's Two Premieres

When Anton Chekhov’s classic The Seagull premiered on 17 October 1896 in St. Petersburg at the Alexandrinsky Theatre, it was a complete failure both in the audience’s, the critics’ and Chekhov’s own opinion. How then did a play initially booed by its audience become, as Konstantin Rudnitsky argues, ‘one of the greatest events in the history of Russian theatre and one of the greatest new developments in the history of world drama’?

Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan on 1984

'We want at the end of an hour and 40 minutes for the audience to have that same sense of a visceral face-punch.'

Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan discuss adapting George Orwell's 1984 for the stage with Dominic Cavendish.

A Photograph Is Not an Opinion

“A photograph is not an opinion,” mused Susan Sontag. “Or is it?”

It may be a mission. Exemplary practitioners like Robert CapaPhilip Jones GriffithsDon McCullinJames Nachtwey and Gilles Peress are documentarists who refuse to be confined by that description. They are witnesses. But they are not neutral. They have a point of view – they are against forgetting. “What sustains me is the overall value in communicating,” says Nachtwey.

Performing 1984

The cast are interviewed in the rehearsal room.

The cast of the autumn 2014 tour of 1984 discuss their thoughts on the play and the experience of performing 1984 on stage.

Ben Kidd on Frank Wedekind

Frank Wedekind wasn’t really a playwright. Of course that makes no sense, since he wrote a whole bunch of plays, but it does have a meaning and it is possibly helpful to remember when staging Spring Awakening.


Language is more than simply words. It shapes the way we think. In the appendix to 1984, Orwell tells us that Newspeak is a language deliberately designed to limit the range of people’s thoughts and to make certain ideas unthinkable. It can be argued, however, that all languages, like Newspeak, limit the range of ideas that it is possible for people to understand.

Financial Capitalism

What have the Big Bang, Clause IV and stagflation got to do with capitalism?

Theatre and Technology

Robert Delamere, Jeremy Herrin, Dawn King and Tassos Stevens discuss the ways in which technology is transforming contemporary theatre and performance.

Tragic Heroines

Can a woman take on the role of a tragic hero? Medea may have a tragedy named after her and play the starring role in it, but can she be considered a tragic hero in the strictest sense of the term?

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