On 21 October 1994, Frantic Assembly performed their first ever work – a production of John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger performed by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett at the Taliesin Arts Centre in Swansea. To mark the anniversary of their first performance, the company today announced a new fundraising initiative and revealed further details of projects forming a year of activity to celebrate 25 years of Frantic Assembly.
Scott Graham, co-founder and Artistic Director of Frantic Assembly said: “We read Look Back In Anger and loved the fire in its belly and then unceremoniously adapted it. I think we ruffled some feathers, but I believe our instinct was right and we were in a way being true to that fire at the heart of it. We took risks. We had to. We needed to be different. However, it was still that recognisable angry young man railing against a world of quiet privilege. Steven and I performed in all of the early shows. We pretty much designed the lights, sound, set, did the get-ins, the get-outs and also drove the van. The shows were small and powerful (like us) and had to fit in the back of a beaten-up Transit Van (like us).”
Launching today, 25@25, is a fundraising campaign to support Frantic Assembly’s work on stage and with young people across the country. The 25@25 appeal has a simple ambition; to raise £25,000 in the Company’s 25th year. This will help Frantic to continue to make thrilling theatre and create vital opportunities to develop young talent. Supporters can do this by visiting the new Frantic Assembly website and making a one-off donation or setting up a regular direct debit.
The Company are also inviting audiences to be an important part of their journey by becoming a Frantic Champion. For an annual fee of £10 Champions will receive regular news updates direct from Artistic Director Scott Graham and advance notice of future show announcements and special events. Crucially, Frantic Champions will be supporting the work – being a Champion of the Company – and part of the world-wide Frantic family.
The company’s outreach activity engages over 15,000 people each year, whilst their flagship training programme, Ignition, has been fighting under-representation in theatre training for over 11 years by nurturing and giving voice to young, marginalised and under-represented talent and championing accessibility and authenticity.
Frantic Assembly: Always Forward, Never Back will chart the past 25 years of the company. This new coffee-table book, with a Foreword by Sian Phillips will be published in mid-November and brings together a rare collection of never-before-seen images and candid behind the scenes moments alongside some of Frantic’s best loved production images. Curated by Scott Graham, the images will be accompanied by the stories behind them along with notes, narrative and essays by Graham on the core values behind Frantic’s approach to theatre making. The book is available for pre-order today via the Frantic Assembly website.
The company also announced the inaugural members of its new creative think tank – The Assembly: an evolving group of artists, creative practitioners and advisors from all areas of the theatre industry, invited by Scott Graham to discuss the vision and ambition of the company and explore new ways of making, presenting and sharing work. Joining the first Assembly are: Tania Harrison (Creative Director, TBH Productions), Jimmy Akingbola (Actor, Director and Entrepreneur), Nick Sidi (Actor, Writer, Dramaturg and Producer for Elliot and Harper Productions), Anna Jordan (Playwright), Ann Akin (Actor, Writer and Director,), Jon Bausor (Stage Designer), Nadia Fall (Artistic Director, Theatre Royal Stratford East) and Despina Tsatsas (Executive Director, The Young Vic).
Frantic Assembly have also begun the search for a new Chair to replace Sian Alexander who will stand down in July 2020 after three terms. At the same time, the company will also be looking to recruit three new Trustees to join its current Board of six. The deadline for applications is Monday 11 November. Full details of these vacancies can be found on the Frantic Assembly Website.
As part of a year of projects to mark Frantic Assembly’s 25 anniversary, the company has premiered new work, Sometimes Thinking by Phil Porter as headliners of the theatre arena at Latitude Festival, and taken over the programme at the National Theatre’s River Stage. The centre piece for the year will be I Think We Are Alone, a new play by Sally Abbott co-directed by Kathy Burke and Scott Graham which will premier in February 2020. I Think We Are Alone is a bittersweet and funny take on our ache to connect with those voices we need to hear again, those arms we need to feel around us and those faces we need to see again. It is about letting go and holding on to what we love the most. A delicate and uplifting play about our fragility, resilience and our need for love and forgiveness. The creative team includes designer Morgan Large, lighting designer Paul Keogan, sound designer Ella Wahlstrom and casting by Will Burton. Full casting for the production will be announced shortly. I Think We Are Alone is a Frantic Assembly and Theatre Royal Plymouth Production, co-produced with Curve. The work will premiere at Theatre Royal Plymouth and tour to venues including Theatre Royal Stratford East, The Lowry, Nuffield Southampton, Bristol Old Vic, and Leicester Curve in Spring 2020.