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Research & Development

The story so far...

2012 – 2017: REVOLUTION17

Hadid Almaty punk Gusli Maidan Josephine Burton in Old Tashkent, May 2014 Nadi Nadi

Revolutionary Futures: After Khlebnikov

January 2017 - by Co-Artistic Director Josephine Burton

This month, we return to the great poet and writer Velimir Khlebnikov, this time with events in London. Working with Kings College and Pushkin House, we’ll bring together Nikita Kadan, Iced Architects, Ana Riaboshenko, Donald Rayfield, Margarita Glutzberg, curators and academics to plan for a series of small ‘open Khlebnikov studios across London and internationally. These will be ‘accessible’ spaces of revolutionary activity, where dreams are nurtured and creative ideas fermented. Join us on Thursday 26th January at Kings College London to explore these ideas.

Pop into Pushkin House to see Glossolalia  - a sound installation based on Khlebnikov’s Language of the Future by the Iced Architects which will run at Pushkin House from 25th January 2017. 

September 2014

Last week, I spent a few days by the beautiful seaside of the Georgian port, Batumi, on the Black Sea. I was there to begin After Khlebnikov – contemporary artistic responses to the writing of the brilliant maverick avant-garde Russian futurist writer Velimir Khlebnikov who wrote in a mass variety of media – poems, plays, manifestos, sagas elucidating his utopianist dreams, his theories of zaum (a universal language which transcended national and ethnic lines), a love of nature, ornithology and mysticism, of numerology, architecture and pacifism. Crazy beautiful texts, pretty much untranslatable into any language, including Russian…

We brought together some wonderful artists from across the Region, from Azerbaijan, Uzhbekhistan, Russia, Georgia and Ukraine to read, discuss, explore the city through the eyes of the poet and to see each other’s work. The ideas that arose were suitably as utopian and diverse as Khblebnikov’s own. We now return to plot some more…


By Co-Artistic Director Tim Supple


L: Tim Supple draws inspiration from Odessa’s steps where Eisenstein made movie history
R: Rolling back the years in Novosibirsk: two royalists yearn for the Tsarist past

Commissioned by National Theatre, London; Lincoln Center Festival, New York; Perth Festival, Australia; and Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Tim Supple is developing an epic new work that dramatizes the experience of the Russian Revolution, the Soviet Union and the post Soviet years in the region, with text by leading Ukrainian writer Maksym Kurochkin. Supple has travelled to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Perm, Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Bishkek, Almaty, Baku, Tbilisi, Yeravan, Minsk, Odessa and Kiev meeting theatre artists and producers as well as journalists, historians and politicians in his research. Further trips to Chisinau, Tashkent, Dushanbe and Ashgabat will follow and workshop auditions, involving hundreds of artists across the region, are being planned.

Renegade Orchestra 

Update 2016 - by Co-Artistic Director Jospehine Burton

Our work contnues to build an ensemble of 11 extraordinary musicians and composers from across the Post Soviet States. In May 2016, we gathered these musicians Evelina Petrova, Slava Guyvronsky, Matyakubov Shavkat, Misha Alperin, Reso Kiknadze, Zoltan Almashi, Natasha Pshenitschnikova, Vladimir Volkov, Kryukova Marina, Sergei Starostin and Petr Glavatskikh AND composer Alexander Manotskov, playwright Natalia Vorozhbyt and director Galina Pyanova in the mountains of Kazbegi, Georgia for an intensive music workshop towards the new score. Over 10 days we explored, listenned and learnt from each other; playing, talking, jamming, walking, eating, drinking and dancing. Alexander, Natasha, Galya, Ali Hasanov and Josephine are now in the process of conceiving, writing and designing this new work. With thanks to Cockayne-Grants for the Arts, the Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation and YaD Arts for their support of the workshop.  

Here's a link to a video with more information:  Renegade Orchestra


Post Soviet Orchestra

L: Josephine Burton exploring the dombra, a Kazakh folk instrument, Almaty, May 2014
R: Josephine Burton meeting Conservatoire Professors and their students, Almaty, May 2014

Commissioned by Brighton Festival we are assembling a creative team and new ensemble of classically trained artists from across the post Soviet States to create a new theatrical piece of music; part composed, part devised and part improvised. This new piece of music will draw on the current musical genres in which these musicians now work: folk, jazz, electronica, punk rock and contemporary classical music. To date, Josephine has spent time in Moscow, St Petersburg, Kiev, Tiblisi, Tashkent, Baku, Almaty, Paris and London meeting artists, hearing their stories and listening to their music, and gradually building the ensemble.

2009 – 11: Arabic Series

One Thousand and One Nights

One Thousand and One Nights

L: Tim Supple with guide in the mountains of Yemen, 2010
R: Rehearsals for One Thousand and One Nights in Palais Mokri, Fez, 2011

Commissioned by Luminato Festival, Toronto, Tim Supple adapted the Arabic folk classic into six hours of erotic, violent, philosophical, surreal and funny theatre; written by the Lebanese author Hanan Al Shaykh. Over two tumultuous years Supple travelled to Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, the Gulf, Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, searching for the true character of this infamous work and meeting and working with hundreds of theatre artists. Despite the challenges that arose from the uprisings of 2011, we rehearsed for three months in an old Palais in Fez, Morocco – a city hardly changed since the time of the Nights.

Lyrical Alliance

Lyrical Alliance

L: In rehearsals with C.RJ Fernandes, 2010
R: The creative and production team in the studio in Paris with C.Thomas Dorn, 2009

Josephine Burton worked with Arabic rappers from across the region to make new lyrics and beats inspired by the soaring epic pre-Islamic poems of the Mu'allaqat. Over eighteen months, Josephine and her colleagues including DJ MK travelled through the region, meeting and making music with artists in studios across Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine. The work was created and rehearsed and then later premiered at the Roundhouse in October 2010.



L: In rehearsal for Babel, 2010. R: Set build for Babel, 2010

In 2008, aware of his own North African heritage, we asked Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui if he would like to work with us as part of our Arabic Series. Larbi embraced the challenge, turning the myth of the Tower of Babel, which he set out to build with Antony Gormley. Larbi and his co-choreographer Damien Jalet worked with Sufi musician Fahrettin Yarkin to create stunning performance, inspired by elements of dhikr (remembrance).

2009: As You Like It

As You Like It

L: Tracey Ifeachor (Rosalind)
R: Justin Avoth (Jaques)

Commissioned by Leicester’s spectacular new Curve theatre to produce Shakespeare’s bitter-sweet comedy of exile and homelessness, we undertook extensive research here at home into our immensely rich and diverse acting community. And just as the play reflects a vivid and true image of England then, our cast reflected our England now and came from all over the globe: Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Jamaica, New Orleans, Malaysia, Manipur, Armenia, Greece, Syria, Cornwall and Leicester itself.

2008-10: Shahnameh


Kattaikuttu actor prepares, Tamil Nadu, India 2009

Commissioned by the National Theatre, Tim Supple worked on Firdowsi’s epochal work telling the narrative of the Iranian nation from the dawn of time. The epic was adapted for theatre with the poet and leading Farsi scholar, Dick Davies in several workshops at the National’s experimental studio. At the heart of the process was two trips: India in 2009 to track the roots of ancient theatrical tradition in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, KARNATTIKA and West Bengal and THEN Tehran in 2010 for workshops, discussions, and encounters with leading artists, academics and scholars. The production remains in development with more trips to Iran and the diaspora planned.

2007: Peter Pan

Peter Pan

Commissioned by Roundhouse, London, Tim Supple returned to India and on to the major centres of China, Argentina, Brazil and Cuba. Once again we experienced an extraordinary array of approaches to performance: circus, Kung Fu, Chinese opera, contemporary physical theatre, Capoeira and Stanislavski as practiced by Cuba’s superb actors. The aim was a reinvention of Barrie’s classic as an international, contemporary circus work in Roundhouse’ s unique space: sweeping away the Victorian cobwebs. In the end we met hundreds of performers in unforgettable workshops in circus tents, on beaches and in ancient schools, and the production remains in development.

Highly skilled and multi-talented actors of Sichuan Opera, China 2007

2005 – 07: Faith to Faith

Faith to Faith

We worked with over forty-five school students across five London faith schools: Gur Nank Sikh School, Southall (Hillingdon), Islamia Girls’ School Brondesbury (Camden), King Solomon High School, Ilford (Redbridge), Mount Carmel RC Technology College for Girls, Archway (Islington) and Swaminarayan School, Neasdon (Brent). Through weekly photography sessions in each school, and quarterly group gatherings, the students documented their own lives and the lives of each other. Faith to Faith culminated in a group photography show that opened at City Hall and then toured the country.

2005 – 06: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream

L: Tim Supple rehearses, Adishakti, Tamil Nadu, 2006
R: Hereditary street performers, 2005

Commissioned by the British Council, Tim Supple travelled to ten major cities in India and Sri Lanka working with actors, musicians and performers in the development of our internationally acclaimed production of Shakespeare’s most joyous play. India’s unique richness of theatre traditions and languages formed the very core of a production where folk and classical performers of drama, dance and music caused a sensation in no less than eight spoken languages. The production was rehearsed over several months in the ideal conditions of Adishakti, Tamil Nadu, which remains the best theatrical working environment we have come across in all our travel.

2005 DASH05


L: Strawberry Cream and Gun Powder, The Place
R: What We Did to Weinstein, Menier Chocolate Factory

Dash Arts launched in 2005 with a small but perfectly formed festival of the most challenging and exciting work by the younger generation of Jewish artists worldwide. We reached out to artists in the Middle East, Berlin, New York, North Africa and of course our own London town to find the new voices in theatre, music, dance and visual art who are trying to forge a new identity out of an ancient culture.