Alastair Whatley Artistic Director
Tom Hackney Creative Producer
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.
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 Communications Manager
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.