The Lyric Hammersmith’s Secret Theatre project will continue into a second year and expand to include a tour thanks to an Exceptional Award from Arts Council England.
The project, which brought a group of 20 performers, writers and directors together to create work about which audiences would know very little before entering the theatre, was originally founded to continue creating theatre while the Lyric Hammersmith underwent major rebuilding work. The concept proved so successful that it will now take its theatre of the unknown further afield, taking up two-week residencies around the country from this summer.
Speaking about the news, Lyric Hammersmith Artistic Director Sean Holmes said: “This is an amazing vote of confidence from Arts Council England in a project that is risky, challenging and at times divisive. It is thrilling to imagine bringing this project to different parts of the country and the conversations that may be provoked in the process.”
In addition to being the answer to continuing to produce work for a building in a state of flux, Secret Theatre aimed to reinvent the idea of rep theatre, challenge diversity by using equal numbers of male and female performers including those from an ethnic minority and with a disability, and explore new ways of presenting work.
At its outset, everything about each new production was kept a closely guarded secret. As the project has progressed, more information about each new show has become available to help audiences make their decisions. Moving forward, some titles will be released and some will continue to be a closely guarded secret.
Speaking about the decision to help fund the extension of the project, Moira Sinclair, Executive Director, London and the South East, Arts Council England commented: “Secret Theatre is an exciting project that challenges the concept of traditional performance. The tour will help this young, diverse ensemble to share their experiences with other organisations, schools, colleges and communities across England, provoking debate around how their new approaches can engage audiences and artists. We are delighted to be supporting the Lyric Hammersmith as it expands its work beyond London, and as a catalyst for artistic excitement and change.”
Secret Theatre Show 4, a tale of power, corruption and revenge, continues to play until 22 March.