All of us here at Actors Touring Company were delighted when The Events was nominated for the What’s On Stage Award for Best New Play. But seeing our little play placed next to hugely successful productions starring Helen Mirren and Dame Judi Dench gave me pause to reflect on what ATC does and why.
The Events is pretty different to the others shortlisted and is quintessentially an ATC project. Of the five plays in our category, The Events was the only one to not play exclusively in London. ATC toured the production around the UK, playing ten different locations in 2013 and it will visit a further ten later this year. The play also engaged local residents and groups as active participants in a very innovative way, through the on-stage choirs. This allowed us to deepen our relationship with audiences and communities, making them the heart of the show. We’ve been deeply moved by the energy, enthusiasm and powerful responses from the 2,000 people that have sung in the show so far.
Another key difference of our show is that we had no big star names. Whilst Neve McIntosh is regularly seen in Doctor Who, she wouldn’t be instantly recognisable given that her role sees her clad in green latex. As a company, we just want to work with terrific and skilled actors, and both Neve and Rudi Dharmalingham breathed life into this complex, difficult play. Our international remit is also what makes The Events and ATC special. We developed the play with an Austrian Theatre and a Norwegian touring company, and then made versions of the play in their languages and with their actors. These will be toured around mainland Europe at the same time as their British counterpart.
The Events is a play that we had commissioned from a conversation between our Artistic Director Ramin Gray and David Greig. We invested two years in its creation and were so pleased that others felt that it was as extraordinary a piece of theatre as we did, one that deals with difficult territory with sensitivity, dares to say some of the things that people might feel but don’t feel comfortable to articulate. It also typifies what we do and what we try and achieve with all of our work – to challenge perspectives, to ask difficult questions, and to broaden outlooks on the world.
It is an absolute honour to have our work recognised amongst such luminaries and we thank everyone who has nominated and voted for us. We probably are the smallest company in our category, which makes the nomination alone a huge achievement. We are unlikely to win but with The Events we felt we created something different, unique, and a pure expression of our vision as a collective, and that’s winning enough.
Executive Director, ATC