The Company

Our People

Alastair Whatley

Alastair Whatley Artistic Director

Tom Hackney

Tom Hackney Creative Producer

Alastair Whatley

Alastair is the Artistic Director of the Original Theatre Company.

Directing credits for the company: The Night Watch, Caroline’s Kitchen (Monogamy); The Importance of Being Earnest, Wait Until Dark; all 4 firstclass national and international tours of the acclaimed, record-breaking production of Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong; The Private Ear and The Public Eye; Our Country’s Good; Twelfth Night (2011); Dancing at Lughnasa; The Madness of George III; Journey’s End; Shakespeare’s R&J; The Taming of the Shrew (2006) and Twelfth Night (2005). Other directing credits: Shadowlands (Birdsong Productions); The Importance of Being Earnest Henry V and The Merry Wives of Windsor for South Hill Park Arts Centre. Acting credits: Invincible (UK tours and New York); Birdsong, Three Men in a Boat, See How They Run, Dancing at Lughnasa, Vincent in Brixton and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (all for Original Theatre Company); Henry V (RSC) and A Desire to Kill on the Tip of the Tongue (Edinburgh Festival). He is the recipient of the Max Cary Award for Innovation presented by the University of London and the Stage One Bursary for Producers.

Tom Hackney

Forthcoming for Original Theatre Company: The Croft (2020).

Previous for Original Theatre Company: The Night Watch (2019); Napoli, Brooklyn (2019); Caroline’s Kitchen (co-produced with Anthology – UK tour and New York); The Habit of Art (co-produced with York Theatre Royal); Monogamy (2018); The Importance of Being Earnest (2018); Wait Until Dark (2017 – co-produced with Eastbourne Theatres); Invincible (co-produced with Ghostlight Productions – UK tour and New York); Night Must Fall (co-produced with Salisbury Playhouse); Three Men in a Boat (co-produced with Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds); Flare Path (co-produced with Birdsong Productions); The Private Ear and The Public Eye (co-produced with Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford) and Birdsong (2013, 2014 and 2015).

For Third Man Theatre: Mugs’ Arrows (Bike Shed Theatre/national tour) and Botallack O’Clock (Old Red Lion Theatre).

Emma Martin

Emma Martin Communications Manager

Craig Gilbert

Craig Gilbert Associate Director

Chris Harper

Chris Harper Associate Director

Siobhan O

Siobhan O'Kelly Associate Actor

 

Our Background

Now in our tenth year, The Original Theatre Company was founded in 2004 with the aim of bringing high quality touring theatre to the length and breadth of The British Isles.

The company has always trod a line between tradition and innovation forged in the mould of the great actor-manager companies of old and inspired by the barnstorming theatre troupes who took big plays to eccentric places. We work hard and play harder.

The very first original theatre cast of Twelfth Night in 2005 rehearsing in Bury St Edmunds

The very first original theatre cast of Twelfth Night in 2005 rehearsing in Bury St Edmunds

Here is Alastair running the very first OTC workshop in a Runnymede school in 2004

Here is Alastair running the very first OTC workshop in a Runnymede school in 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our inaugural production in 2005 of Twelfth Night played over 20 venues indoors and outdoors ranging from The Lyric Hammersmith to a Welsh Cliff Top in St. Davids to the Edinburgh Festival.

The next three years were spent touring Shakespeare to a range of outdoor venues, The Taming of the Shrew in 2006 set at the end of the second world war and told by a group of ENSA entertainers got audiences swinging with a live jazz band before actor/director Knight Mantell helmed the 2007 summer production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Kate Sawyer and Alastair in 2007's Midsummer Nights Dream

Kate Sawyer and Alastair in 2007’s Midsummer Nights Dream

Knight Mantell in rehearsal with The cast and crew of Midsummer Night's Dream in 2007

Knight Mantell in rehearsal with The cast and crew of Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2007

2008 saw the company become an associate company at South Hill Park Arts Centre with whom we collaborated to stage Joe Calarco’s acclaimed adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s R&J. Starting it’s life outdoors- the production had a three week run on the main stage at The Southwark Playhouse before setting of on national tour around the country.

Moving away for the first time from Shakespeare in 2009 we produced the first touring revival of Nicholas Wright’s Olivier Award winning play Vincent in Brixton as well as an actor-musician renaissance inspired production of Othello both directed by Max Lewendel.

Tom and Craig now associate artists as Students in Shakespeare's R&J 2008

Tom and Craig now associate artists as Students in Shakespeare’s R&J 2008

The first OTC football match between fellow theatre company, Blackeyed and OTC in 2008... (we lost 3-1)

The first OTC football match between fellow theatre company, Blackeyed and OTC in 2008… (we lost 3-1)

In 2010 we became an associate company at The Haymarket in Basingstoke with whom we revived R.C.Sherriff’s Journey’s End in a critically acclaimed touring production starring Graham Seed and associate artists Chris Harper, Tom Hackney and Rhys King directed by Alastair Whatley. This was immediately followed by the one man show, The Importance of Being Oscar a unique oral biography charting the life of Oscar Wilde directed by Tom Neill. After years of planning The Autumn of 2010 was spent touring the first ever revival of Alan Bennett’s The Madness of George III starring the late, great Simon Ward in what was his last stage performance. The production was a unique collaboration between two other theatre companies and toured across the UK.

At Guildford's Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in 2010 the team celebrating the final performance of The Importance of Being Oscar

At Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in 2010 the team celebrating the final performance of The Importance of Being Oscar

Simon Ward and Susan Penhaligon as King and Queen at the dress rehearsal of The Madness of George III in 2010

Simon Ward and Susan Penhaligon as King and Queen at the dress rehearsal of The Madness of George III in 2010

Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa starred Daragh O’Malley and associate artist Siobhan O’Kelly and was nominated for best production at the M.E.N awards in 2011, the production achieved huge acclaim and ended it’s run at the Glasgow Citizens. In the summer and Autumn we took on our biggest challenge to date and lived up to up our name by producing two plays in rep with the same cast; See How They Run (directed by associate Chris Harper) and Twelfth Night (directed by Alastair Whatley) toured widely and included our first summer season at The Devonshire Park in Eastbourne. We also built a venue from scratch in Bury St Edmunds turning Moreton Hall School’s sports hall into a fully functioning theatre for a week complete with Vicarage and bar! You can see pictures by looking at Rhys’ blog

Read Rhy's Blog

Touring in 2012 we produced Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Olivier winning play, Our Country’s Good starring Aden Gillet, Adam Best and Phil Whitchurch. In the Summer and Autumn we received Arts Council funding for the first time in our history to commission a new adaptation of Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat which opened at The Yvonne Arnaud in Guildford setting sail across the country on a whirl wind tour directed (and adapted) by new associate Craig Gilbert, who had some years before acted in Shakespeare’s R&J.

Chris Harper directing See How They Run in Eastbourne in 2011

Chris Harper directing See How They Run in Eastbourne in 2011

Alastair directing the cast of Dancing at Lughnasa in 2011

Alastair directing the cast of Dancing at Lughnasa in 2011

The cast of See How They Run in Moreton Hall Sports Hall, one of OTC Crowning achievements!

The cast of See How They Run in Moreton Hall Sports Hall, one of OTC Crowning achievements!

2013 saw us mount our most ambitious production, the first ever touring production of Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong adapted by Rachel Wagstaff. The show toured for over 5 months to 28 venues and played to over 75,000 people scoring 5* reviews and many award nominations. Following straight after was the 50th anniversary production of Sir Peter Shaffer’s The Private Ear & The Public Eye starring Jasper Britton, Siobhan O’Kelly, Rupert Hill and Steven Blakeley, this rare revival was co-produced with The Yvonne Arnaud and PW productions.

2014 saw re-mount a new version of Birdsong which played 21 weeks across the UK and Ireland to over 65,000 people achieving sell out runs at some of the best theatres in the country. The Autumn saw a revival of Three Men in Boat co-produced for the first time with our local theatre, The Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds.

Siobhan and Alastair at the original photo shoot for Birdsong in 2012

Siobhan and Alastair at the original photo shoot for Birdsong in 2012

The cast of Birdsong in 2014 raising money for Help for Heroes

The cast of Birdsong in 2014 raising money for Help for Heroes

Sir Peter Shaffer and the cast of The Private Ear & The Public Eye at The New Wolsey in 2013

Sir Peter Shaffer and the cast of The Private Ear & The Public Eye at The New Wolsey in 2013

2015 of Birdsong which had 2 elongated sold out runs at Bristol Old Vic and West Yorkshire Playhouse and a brand new revival of Terence Rattigan’s Flare Path directed by Justin Audibert with 2 great casts of both new and familiar faces. Flare Path extended into the Spring and by the time it ended it’s run in York had played over 200 performances to 50,000 people in over 30 UK town and cities.

In 2016 we opened the regional premiere of Torben Betts’ Invincible. With support from the Arts Council this was ‘a made in Suffolk’ production opening at The Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds touring to huge acclaim and opening a new chapter in bringing fresh new writing out into the regions of the UK. During the Autumn we toured our first co-production with Salisbury Playhouse, a revival of Emlyn Williams’ Night Must Fall across the UK.

The combined teams from Invincible and Flare Path pose on set in York with Alastair looking proudly on...

The combined teams from Invincible and Flare Path pose on set in York with Alastair looking proudly on…

2017 saw the return of Invincible this time directed by Stephen Darcy which played all over the UK and also in-the-round at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough and then at The New Vic in Stoke. This was followed by our first visit to New York where we ended our show with the US premiere at the Brits Off Broadway festival just off Broadway. The rest of the year saw Alastair direct Frederick Knott’s thriller Wait Until Dark starring Karina Jones a visually impaired performer taking on the iconic role of Suzy. This was the first time a blind actor had ever taken on the role.

 

Our Invincible cast after their final performance in New York’s Brits Off Broadway festival.

 

2018 sent us back to our roots with a super production of The Importance of Being Earnest starring Gwen Taylor as Lady Bracknell. Wilde’s masterpiece became one of our most successful shows ever playing to 37,000 people all over the UK. We also partnered again with Jon and Anne-Marie Woodley as they toured our production of Birdsong to coincide with the centenary commemorations of the end of the First World War. By the end of the run it had over 6 years played to over 250,000 people.
 
 Earnest was followed by our first ever original commission Monogamy by Torben Betts brought to the stage on tour and at London’s Park Theatre. The production starred Janie Dee and Charlie Brooks and was co-produced with our friends at Anthology. The year ended with Philip Franks directing Matthew Kelly in the first revival of Alan Bennett’s The Habit of Art. Co-produced with York Theatre Royal, the show was a huge hit with audiences and critics with 5* reviews up and down the country. We also officially opened our literary panel headed up by associated Emily Bowker and Charlotte Peters with a promise 

The cast of The Importance of Being Earnest

2019 has been another busy and productive year for Original. We rebranded Monogamy by Torben Betts as Caroline’s Kitchen and toured it to sell-out crowds before being invited back to 59e59 Theaters and the Brits Off Broadway festival in April. The production starred Caroline Langrishe and saw an OTC return for Aden Gillett as errant husband Mike. This was followed by the European Premiere of Meghan Kennedy’s Broadway hit Napoli, Brooklyn which opened in Malvern in April in a production directed by Lisa Blair before touring and then coming into London for a 5 week run at The Park Theatre. Finally Alastair directed a big revival of Sarah Waters’ The Night Watch in an adaptation by Hattie Naylor co-produced with our good friends at York Theatre Royal and Eastbourne Theatres. 

Caroline’s Kitchen in New York’s Brits Off Broadway festival

Philip Franks speaking to David Yelland and Matthew Kelly about Alan Bennetts’ The Habit of Art

The team of Meghan Kennedy’s Napoli, Brooklyn on its European premiere at Park Theatre, London

The cast of Sarah Waters’ The Night Watch

The Valued Friends team celebrating the work of Stephen Jeffrey’s at the Royal Court, London

 

The company aims have not changed in our twelve years touring the country, we do our best to work with brilliant people on brilliant plays- telling stories that we hope will excite, entertain and provoke. In an era of funding cuts and recession, Original Theatre has defied all the odds not just to survive but somehow to thrive. We remain a small family unit and this ethos instills itself on our rehearsal process and into our productions. Our work is forged with passion, love and as our name suggest a healthy dose of originality.

Siobhan makes her return to OTC in Flare Path seen here with Leon Ockenden in rehearsals in Eastbourne

Siobhan makes her return to OTC in Flare Path seen here with Leon Ockenden in rehearsals in Eastbourne

Justin Audibert directing Olivia Hallinan and Simon Darwen ahead of Flare Path in Eastbourne August 2016

And back in Eastbourne in 2016 the cast of Invincible pay it’s homage to the south coats

 

 

We have now launched our 5 year vision plan for UK touring theatre.

This outlines how we will be continuing our work as well as building and innovating in the way we engage with audiences.

We’ve included a summary below, but you can read the full vision here and let us know what you think.