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People, Places and Things

25th Aug 2015 - 10th Oct 2015

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13th Sep 2013 - 5th Sep 2015

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arts council funded

1984 Transfers to the West End

Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan's critically acclaimed production 1984  has returned 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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People, Places and Things: Now on sale

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 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'
★ ★ ★ ★★

The Glass Menagerie

A frustrated mother, a daughter lost in her imagination, and a son intent on rebellion.

By night, Tom lives the life of an assassin, an outlaw, a czar of the underworld, via his trips to the movies. By day, he works in a factory. In the apartment he shares with mother Amanda and sister Laura, the air hangs thick with the scent of sickly sweet flowers and his mother’s oppressive nostalgia. When Amanda insists he brings home a gentleman caller for Laura, the fragile dreams of all three are shattered with consequences they may never escape.

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.

Adapting 1984

Sarah Grochala talks about Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan's adaptation of 1984. The talk was given at the Nam Paik June Art Center in Seoul, South Korea. The talk is in English and translated into Korean.English starts at 4.45 minutes.

The Future of Theatre Design

The speakers are interviewed on stage. The stage is empty apart from three chairs, on which the speakers are sitting 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 is technology changing the way that we stage and design a production? What new possibilities might digital technology open up for theatre designers in the future?

From the Deus Ex Machina of Ancient Greek Theatre to the invention of the electric lantern in the late nineteenth century, technology has had a huge impact on the ways in which we stage a performance. Olivier Award Winning Set Designer Es Devlin (Chimerica, American Psycho, The Nether) and Luke Halls (I Can’t Sing!, Olympic and Paralympic Closing Ceremonies) discuss how digital technology is currently revolutionising the world of theatre design.

Chaired by The Nether's resident director, Daniel Raggett.

Selective Attention

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?

1984 - Rehearsal Diary Week 2

By the beginning of Week 2 the mark up - a detailed plan of the set with all the entrances and exits - has been drawn out on the floor of the rehearsal room in coloured tape, but Rob and Duncan are still reluctant to move towards a literal blocking of each scene. Instead, the play has been broken down into sections - like scenes, except the play contains no scenes - and the company are called to work on one or more of these at a time. The idea now is to focus in on exploring the physical nature of the scenes and what this might unlock. 

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.

Theatre and Surveillance

Robert Icke, Prof. Tim Jordan, Duncan Macmillan and Dr. Dan Mcquillan discuss the ways in which theatre and other forms of performance have been used to explore the nature of contemporary surveillance culture.

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.

1984 Quiz

What is Winston's greatest fear? What is the name given to the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them?

Discover how much you really know about George Orwell's 1984.

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’?

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 - 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?


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.

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.

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