Following its inaugural season in 2021, represent., a theatre company for actors from a lower socio-economic background, today announces a new version of Max Frisch’s Biedermann und die Brandstifter (“Biedermann and the Firestarters”): Trueman and the Arsonists, by Simon Stephens, with songs by Chris Thorpe.
The production opens at the Studio Theatre at the Roundhouse on 24 October, with previews from 17 October, and runs until 8 November. Full cast and creative team to be announced.
represent. is on a mission to create an exceptional, professional theatre company of people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, providing an accessible platform for those with barriers to entry into the arts.
Simon Stephens says today, “represent. is one of the most exciting companies working with young actors in England. The rigour and brilliance of their work and the fearlessness of their ambition galvanise me. To collaborate with them and with the legend that is Chris Thorpe, one of Europe’s most exciting theatre makers, means a great deal. To have the opportunity to build that collaboration around a masterpiece of 20th Century drama, Max Frisch’s ferocious, daring play, is a proper treat.”
Creative Director of represent. Guy Woolf states, “represent. is a political company. We exist to redress the socioeconomic imbalance in the arts and our productions confront the times that we’re living in. We could not be more excited to light another fuse with our second commission, this time with the globally renowned Simon Stephens adapting Max Frisch’s cult classic with songs by incredible playwright/performer/musician Chris Thorpe. We’re ecstatic that we’ve pulled together this incredible team – Simon and Chris have been friends for many years but now collaborate for the first time – and to stage this new piece at the Roundhouse with their exceptional track record and shared vision for supporting marginalised artists, this truly is the dream. We can’t wait to show you this bold new production which will spark fiery debate long after the curtain call…”
Marcus Davey, CEO and Artistic Director at the Roundhouse, comments, “The important work of represent. highlights the socio-economic disparity on UK theatre stages. I’m thrilled to welcome this fantastic, vital company to the Roundhouse for their next play, Trueman and the Arsonists, and to introduce our audiences, old and new, to experience their trailblazing productions.”
represent.’s Founding Director and Executive Producer Andy Lennard adds, “It is thrilling to see our ideas come to fruition. The concept of philanthropy is to provide for those that are marginalised through social and financial imbalance. Social mobility is vital for democracy and represent. is a powerful example of what can be achieved when one applies forward and positive thinking to the creative space.”
Fires keep starting. All across the city, arsonists worm their way into respectable people’s homes only to burn them all down. It’s a plague. And we don’t know why.
But Trueman is no fool. He can spot an arsonist from a mile away. These two gentlemen with troubled pasts who turn up on his doorstep asking for a spare room can’t be arsonists. They’re too polite. Like him. Everybody is far too respectable to act on their suspicions. Even when they fill his attic with barrels of petrol and ask him to help measure the fuse.
In a new version by Simon Stephens, with songs by Chris Thorpe, Max Frisch’s Trueman and the Arsonists explores how moral lethargy can invite evil in – even encouraging you to give it a warm blanket and a nice dinner.
This is an amoral morality play. It’s also got songs in it.