News: Lydia West to star in the UK premiere of A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction

Headlong and the Barbican, have today announced that Lydia West (It’s a Sin, Inside Man) will make her stage debut in the UK premiere of A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction by award-winning playwright Miranda Rose Hall. 

Directed by Katie Mitchell, West will perform the role of Naomi at the Barbican from 26 – 29 April, ahead of a national tour across the UK, which will see a different local actor and director take on the production at each venue. Each performance will be powered by bicycles peddled in real time throughout the duration of the show. 

“The difference between death and extinction is this: death is to cease to exist. Extinction is to extinguish. I think of death as individual. Extinction is collective.”

Naomi is part of a touring theatre company and they have made a play especially for you – those who are living through extinction – except the actors haven’t shown up yet. We don’t know why, and maybe they will, but in the meantime, Naomi has a plan. Miranda Hall’s darkly funny and uplifting play explores what it means to be human in an era of man-made extinction.

A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction and the subsequent tour, will see Mitchell draw on and further her work on the Sustainable Theatre? project, which she originally conceived with the support of the French choreographer Jérôme Bel and Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne. 

Opening at the Barbican the UK premiere will be designed by Moi Tran. Mitchell and the creative team will produce blueprints containing sustainability guides which will be given to each subsequent venue in the first off-grid tour of its kind in the UK. Local teams will stage and perform the play, within the parameters of the blueprints and using the same renewable bike technology, therefore eliminating the need for physical travel. Headlong will present A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction at Barbican London, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Live Theatre Newcastle, New Vic Newcastle-under-Lyme, and York Theatre Royal with further venues along with casting and directors to be announced shortly. 

A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction is Headlong’s second major touring experiment, part of the company’s ongoing commitment to rethink theatre-making in a climate emergency. In 2020 Headlong produced Signal Fires, a national festival that saw over forty companies come together for the first time to tour a single idea, at a time when traditional touring was not possible. Headlong have committed to staging one major touring experiment and one piece that explores a different facet of climate change, as part of our commitment to rethinking what it means to be a touring theatre company during the climate emergency. 

Lydia West says: “I am thrilled to be collaborating with Katie Mitchell, Headlong and the Barbican on this very relevant piece. I think Barbican is the perfect venue for such an impactful show and I have been a huge admirer of Katie’s work for some time. I’m excited for everyone to see this and to bring this eco-feminist text to life in my professional stage debut.”

A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction is Co-produced by Headlong and the Barbican. 

Presented by Headlong, Barbican, Belgrade Theatre, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Live Theatre Newcastle, New Vic, York Theatre Royal. 

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