imitating the dog, one of the UK’s most original and innovative performance theatre companies are set to bring their unique theatrical vision to the stage when they premiere a bold retelling of Joseph Conrad’s extraordinarily influential and timely novel – ‘Heart of Darkness.’ The production will be at The Lowry Tue 16 – Thu 18 April.
Following on from their popular and critically acclaimed adaptation in 2014 of Ernest Hemingway’s ‘A Farewell to Arms,’ imitating the dog will stage an exploration of Conrad’s classic novel filled with visually rich, multi-layered work that fuses live performance and digital technology.
Written more than 100 years ago, amid the optimism at the turn of a new century, ‘Heart of Darkness’, which explored the journey of Conrad’s narrator Charles Marlow travelling up the Congo river into the Congo Free State in the heart of Africa, is a tale of lies and brutal greed and of the dark heart which beats within us all. Now retold as a journey of a Congolese woman through war torn Europe, the play explores a forsaken landscape lost to the destructive lust for power and emerges as a tale absolutely for our time.
Negotiating race, gender and the themes of exploitation, violence and nationalism, imitating the dog’s ‘Heart of Darkness’ is a searing parable for our times, created at a moment when versions of Britain’s colonial past are being held up as a golden era and when our relationship with Europe is being severely tested.
‘Heart of Darkness’ is retold and directed by imitating the dog founder members Pete Brooks and Andrew Quick (A Farewell to Arms and Kellerman, imitating the dog and The Carrier Frequency, Impact Theatre Co-operative). The production’s projection and video are designed by fellow original founder member Simon Wainwright (The Kid Stays in the Picture, Royal Court).
The production’s ensemble will feature Laura Atherton (A Farewell To Arms, imitating the dog); Morgan Bailey (In the Dark, BBC); Keicha Greenidge (In The Club, Bafta winning Three Girls and From Darkness, all BBC); Morven Macbeth (A Farewell to Arms, imitating the dog; Bring The Happy, Invisible Flock and Opening Skinner’s Box, improbable) and Matt Prendergast (The Train, imitating the dog).
The production’s other creative team will include regular collaborators, costume designer Laura Hopkins (Black Watch and Peter Pan, National Theatre of Scotland, The Divide, Edinburgh International Festival and The Old Vic), Lighting Designer Andrew Crofts (Trash Cuisine, Belarus Free Theatre and The Young Vic) and Composer Jeremy Peyton-Jones who previously worked with the company on A Farewell to Arms.
imitating the dog Co-Artistic Director Pete Brooks said: “As a result of recent political events we felt that the UK had become gripped with a nostalgia for our colonial past without really acknowledging what that past was. It felt like most people believe the British Empire was a reciprocal arrangement; we got rich, but they got to speak the best language in the world and have a functioning civil service. In Conrad’s novel he anticipated the horrors of twentieth century genocide and the problem of globalised capitalism. He also understood that their roots were in European colonialism. This was our starting point.
“Conrad’s novel deserves to be treated seriously, and his unconscious racism does not invalidate his work, although some people might say it diminishes it. For imitating the dog, it was important that we retold Conrad’s story for audiences today, and from a new perspective. Our production is now the story of the journey of an African woman into the darkness of a war-torn Europe.
“Heart of Darkness is simply too important a work to be avoided because it’s a political minefield and when you take on a text as tricky as Conrad’s novel you have to tread carefully.”
imitating the dog have been making ground-breaking work for theatres and other spaces for 20 years. Their work, which fuses live performance with digital technology, has been seen by hundreds of thousands of people in venues, outdoor festivals and events across the world.
As a company, they are most interested in telling stories and creating beautiful, memorable images for audiences. The company strive to tell stories which are important, and which contain important ideas.
Recent acclaimed productions have included ‘The Zero Hour,’ ‘Six Degrees below the Horizon,’ ‘Hotel Methuselah’ and ‘A Farewell to Arms.’ The company created the sited work ‘Arrivals and Departures’ for the launch of Hull City of Culture 2017. Earlier this year the company became an Arts Council England NPO.
‘Heart of Darkness’ is co-produced with Marche Teatro (Italy) and Cast, Doncaster. It is supported by Arts Council England, Lancaster Arts at Lancaster University and Theatre by the Lake.