The Company

Our People

Alastair Whatley

Alastair Whatley Artistic Director

Tom Hackney

Tom Hackney Creative Producer

Alastair Whatley

Director, actor and producer, Alastair is the Artistic Director of The Original Theatre Company. When not on tour he lives and works in Bury St Edmunds.

As an actor he has worked across the country credits include his own production of Birdsong, Henry V (RSC), The Importance of Being Oscar (International Tour), See How They Run, Twelfth Night, Journey’s End, Dancing at Lughnasa, The Madness of George III, the title role in Henry V (South Hill Park Arts Centre) and a site specific Romeo in Romeo and Juliet (The Royal Armouries).

Directing credits for the company include first class national and international tours of Birdsong (2015, 2014 &2013) The Private Ear and the Public Eye (2013), Our Country’s Good (2012), Twelfth Night (2011), Dancing at Lughnasa (2011), The Madness of George III starring Simon Ward (2010) Journey’s End (2010), Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (2008), Twelfth Night (2005), The Taming of the Shrew (2006) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2006). Other Directing credits include The Merry Wives of Windsor (2006) and Henry V (2007) for South Hill Park Arts Centre. In 2007, Alastair also worked as ‘The Director in Residence’ at The Powell Theatre in Sherborne where he directed Twelfth Night for the second time. As a producer he has worked on all the Company’s past shows, from Twelfth Night in 2005 to Three Men in a Boat in 2014.

He is the recipient of The Max Cary Award for innovation and in 2010 was awarded The Stage One Bursary. Most recently his production of Birdsong was nominated as best production in this year’s Manchester Theatre Awards.

Tom Hackney

Tom graduated from Cygnet Training Theatre, Exeter.

Theatre Credits include: Charlotte’s Web (Liverpool Playhouse) Midsummer Nights Dream (Drum Theatre, Plymouth) Three Musketeers (Illyria) Hard Times (Orange Tree Theatre) Fair Maid of the West (Creative Cow) The Dumb Waiter (Bike Shed, Exeter)

For Original Theatre: Shakespeare’s R&J, Journeys End, Three Men in a Boat

Tom is a producer and associate artist of Original Theatre.

His producing credits for Original Theatre include: Three Men in a Boat (co-produced with Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds), The Private Ear, The Public Eye (co-produced with Yvonne Arnaud), Birdsong (co-produced with Birdsong productions, 2013, 2014)

He has also put together national tours of: See How They Run, Our Country’s Good, Twelfth Night and Hard Times

Tom is an artistic associate of the Third Man Theatre which future projects include: Mugs Arrows (national tour 2015)

Emma Martin

Emma Martin Communications Manager

Emily Altneu

Emily Altneu Associate Producer

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.

2017 has already been an incredibly exciting year so far, with our first international tour. We embarked on a second tour of the 2016 hit Invincible ending with its US premiere at the Brits Off Broadway festival in New York. The rest of the year sees our revival of Frederick Knotts’ thriller Wait Until Dark for an extensive run which once again sees us return to the sunshine coast in Eastbourne.

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.

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…

 

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

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

 

Here’s to the next 10 years…

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.