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Digital Programme: Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

Four people wearing black coats and animal face masks gather together as if listening to or watching someone.

We are delighted that you can join us as we welcome back Complicité to our Theatre. This is our 11th collaboration in a remarkable relationship spanning 22 years and counting. The internationally renowned company has a flawless record of adapting stories into breathtaking theatrical experiences that resonate deeply with the urgent issues of our time. They last brought a new show for us back in 2016 – the captivating solo performance The Encounter. This year, Simon McBurney directs a sensational ensemble cast of ten performers. We are very excited to share with you the company's masterful staging of Olga Tokarczuk's acclaimed eco-thriller novel, which offers new insight into our relationship with the natural world around us. We hope you enjoy the show.

Toni Racklin
Barbican Head of Theatre & Dance.


At the centre of Olga Tokarczuk’s savage, funny and wildly beautiful book, is a self-aware 65-year-old woman, Janina, whose wry wit adds an additional layer to her story. She expresses what it feels like to be alive right now with blinding clarity. A prophet for a world on fire, she’s bold, messy, angry and righteous – furious with the state of the world but determined to do something about it. She never cleans her home, preferring to devote her time to poetry and the cosmos, laughter and the secrets the animals have to tell us.

An image we have returned to often in the making of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is that of the mycelium: the remarkable network of fungi that exists deep beneath the forest floor, linking the trees by the roots and transferring water and nutrients throughout the network. A good metaphor for a story about the deep inter-connection between humankind and nature – and the perils that await when that relationship is fractured.

Great stories can be a little like that mycelium web – they can be a way that we forge links with one another, understand ourselves as part of something bigger than ourselves. Tonight, witnessing Janina’s story, we might think ourselves not simply as an audience, but a solidarity.

This decade has demonstrated that our connection with the environment is both more delicate and deeper than ever perceived before. A monumental shift in collective attitude is necessary for us all to coexist in harmony with the world around us.

It is an honour to present one of literature’s most fervent portrayals of the human experience in our modern world.

Simon McBurney, Artistic Director & Amber Massie-Blomfield, Executive Director

Related events

Talks and surtitled performances 

Pre-show talk, Wed 22 Mar, 6pm
Join us for a conversation on the limits and ethics of activism, chaired by journalist and author, Jack Shenker, and featuring Jojo Mehta of Stop Ecocide, Clare Farrell of Extinction Rebellion, and further panellists to be announced. Free to same-day ticket holders. 

Post-show talk, Thu 23 Mar, 2.30pm
Q&A with the cast and creative team. Free to same-day ticket holders.

Tue 28 Mar, 6pm
In Conversation: Polish Echoes in Complicité. Tickets £5. 

Tue 28 Mar, 7.45pm
Polish-surtitled performance


Accessible events

Captioned performance
Sat 25 Mar, 2.30pm

Audio-described performance and Touch Tour
Thu 30 Mar, touch tour (6.30pm) and audio-described performance (7.45pm)

Take a look at our Accessible Events page to find out more about the accessibility of our venues.

About Complicité

Complicité is an international touring theatre company based in London led by artistic director and co-founder Simon McBurney. Founded in 1983, the company has won over 50 major theatre awards worldwide, and played in more than 40 countries.

Complicité creates work that strengthens human interconnection, using the complicity between performer and audience that is at the heart of the theatrical experience. The company works across art forms, believing theatre, opera, film, radio, installation, publication and participatory arts can all be sites for the collective art of imagination.

The company is famous for making its work as a collective, with a spirit of collaborative curiosity, through extensive periods of research and development which bring together performers, designers, writers, artists and specialists from diverse fields – a process now known simply as ‘devising’.

Complicité’s recent work includes The Dark is Rising, a new audio drama for BBC World Service based on Susan Cooper’s cult novel; Figures in Extinction [1.0], Can I Live?, The Encounter, The Master and Margarita, Shun-kin and A Disappearing Number.

The company is committed to widening access and supports talented artists who are under-represented in the theatre sector. Learning and engagement are central to its work and its award-winning Creative Engagement programme includes professional development, work in schools and colleges and participatory projects with a range of communities.

Complicité is responding to the climate and ecological emergency. It is a founder member of Culture Declares Emergency and co-chairs a working group of UK Touring Theatre companies to share best sustainable practice and to develop the Theatre Green Book Touring Guidance.

2023 marks the company’s 40th year.

Creative team

Based on the novel by Olga Tokarczuk
published in Great Britain by Fitzcarraldo Editions

Thomas Arnold
Johannes Flaschberger
Tamzin Griffin
Amanda Hadingue
Kathryn Hunter
Kiren Kebaili-Dwyer
Weronika Maria
Tim McMullan
César Sarachu
Sophie Steer
Alexander Uzoka

Creative Team
Director Simon McBurney 
Set and Costume Designer Rae Smith 
Lighting Designer Paule Constable 
Sound Designer Christopher Shutt 
Video Designer Dick Straker
Additional Direction Kirsty Housley 
Dramaturgs Laurence Cook and Sian Ejiwunmi-Le Berre 
Movement Director Toby Sedgwick 
Original Compositions Richard Skelton 
Assistant Director Gemma Brockis 
Associate Costume Designer Johanna Coe 
Wigs Designer Susanna Peretz
Casting Amy Ball CDG 
Additional Movement Crystal Pite
Associate Lighting Designer Lucía Sánchez Roldán
Sound Associate Ella Wahlström
Video Associates Jachym Bouzek and Jakub Xiv for Mesmer
Associate Video Designer Ross Flight
Design Assistants William Fricker and Ruth Hall
Original novel translation Antonia Lloyd-Jones

Additional filmed content
Additional Video directed by Adam Smith @flatnosegeorge
Additional Video Production Company Treatment Studio
Shoot Producer Matt Cummins
Treatment Studio Producer Sam Brickman
Editors Iain Finlay and Warren Chapman
Animators James Rushton, Noah Campeau and Charlie Broome
Technical Supervisor Dylan Steenkamp
DOP Ricky Patel
Art Director Jake Shepherd
Archivist Matthew Sanger
Runner Austin Shaw
Thanks to Patrick Hickey

Production team (for Complicité)
Production Manager Niall Black
Company Stage Manager Fiona Findlater
Deputy Stage Manager Emma Rangel
Assistant Stage Manager Jeannie Fong
Cover Stage Manager Bethany Alexander
Wardrobe Supervisor Heather Judge
Lighting Programmer Tamykha Patterson
Lighting Supervisor Tom Pritchard
Production Electrician Samuel Baker
Stage Supervisor David Hill
Sound Supervisors Laura Hammond and Amir Sherhan
Original Video Programming Salvador Bettencourt Ávila
Video Programmer Caitlyn Russell
Video Supervisor Ben Walden
Animator Gustaf Lindstrom
Script Assistant Austin Yang
Model Box Assistant Catherine Morgan
Dramatherapist Wabriya King
Access Consultant Aisling Gallagher
Audio Description Consultant Benjamin Wilson for Hear the Picture
Audio Describer Jo Mousley for Hear the Picture
Poster Artwork Patryk Hardziej

Music and image credits
Original compositions by Richard Skelton; 'Wolf Notes' co-composed and sung by Autumn Richardson, soprano. Other music: ‘House of the Rising Sun’ (trad.), ‘Animals’ (Garritsen), ‘Tell Me Why’ (Somerville, Cole, Bronski), ‘Jump in My Car’ (Ted Mulry). Images: Depiction of St Hubert from a window in Ottowa St Patrick’s RC Basilica from the workshop of Franz Borgias Mayer (1848-1926). Photo by Wojciech Dittwald. 

A Complicité co-production with the Barbican, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Bristol Old Vic, Comédie de Genève, Holland Festival, Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, L'Odéon-Théâtre de l'Europe, The Lowry, The National Theatre of Iceland, Oxford Playhouse, Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen and Theatre Royal Plymouth


Everything is connected

World-renowned theatre company Complicité’s new production is based on Nobel prize-winning writer Olga Tokarczuk’s novel Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead.

It tells the story of a small community on a remote Polish mountainside, where men from the local hunting club are dying in mysterious circumstances and Janina Duszejko – and eccentric older local woman, environmentalist and devoted astrologer – has her suspicions.

Packed with ideas of the interconnectedness of nature, the universe, and the place of humans and other creatures in the world, it’s a multi-layered role.

Previous adaptations of this ground-breaking novel have focused on one layer of meaning of the story, but that’s missing the point, says Kirsty Housley, who provides additional direction alongside director Simon McBurney. ‘You have to keep the complexity of it. You can’t take out the strand about this, or that or the other because they all work as a whole. The book is about how everything is connected – the largest things are connected to the smallest things. So in adapting it, you can’t simplify it; you have to find a new way of it, excavating it and finding out what’s underneath each moment, and then finding a different way of telling that story. We’ve tried to keep all the layers of meaning and narrative.’

Lead character Janina is passionate about animal rights, and the story has a strong theme questioning why we place humans at the top of an imagined hierarchy of nature.

‘She gives a most wonderful soliloquy in a police station about the monstrosity of the industrial slaughter of animals to keep human appetite and greed satisfied,’ Complicité director Simon McBurney told the Guardian last year. ‘Yet she punctuates that soliloquy with hilarious descriptions of herself, physically, while she is doing it, so this self-awareness is marvellously human and humorous.’

And Tokarczuk also told the publication: ‘The pandemic showed us just how fragile we are, how highly we depend on nature, and that our relationship with it is stronger than we’ve ever imagined. I also think a change of paradigm in our approach to the world is taking place right before our eyes: the anthropological point of view is giving way to a new, more animist and relational one. We can see our own, inseparable connection with the world, and the world seems to us far more complicated in its co-dependencies than ever before. The focal points in our thinking about morality and ethics in general are moving in a different direction too. This is a time of transition to something new. Now I think the figure of Janina is ahead of her time.’

This idea of the place of humans and animals in the world goes deeper than rights, says Housley: ‘It’s the perspective of a woman who has never been allowed to see herself as the centre of the universe or in charge of her own destiny. She’s constantly coming up against these men who are ruling over something, whether it’s the chief of police or the honorary president of the mushroom-picking society. Power is actually one of the biggest themes that Olga Tokarczuk is talking about – who has power and how they use it.’

Challenging traditional power structures means that Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead has a powerful feminist message. Centring an older woman as the narrator of the story gives voice to a demographic often marginalised in society.

‘The law often operates to reinforce injustice and oppressive power structures rather than to protect the most vulnerable,’ says Housley. ‘Here, Janina has the opportunity to hold the central position as a storyteller and to have that power to shape the narrative and to be heard. Much of the story that she’s telling is about the different ways in which she’s tried to be heard and is silenced. She goes to the police, and they ignore her and laugh at her. She tries everything. What happens is that she becomes the author, so she takes control of the narrative.

Part of that narrative is the way Janina sees the world through astrology – something she’s committed to. It reflects Tokarczuk’s own beliefs, as Housley recounts: ‘When Simon first went to meet Olga, she said, “What are you going to do with the astrology – are you going to cut it? Because I really believe in it.” It’s also a massive part of how Janina sees the world, in that she sees herself as a tiny speck in a massive universe.

‘One of the questions that the astrology raises is how much responsibility can we take for what we do? How much are we in control of what happens to us, or how much we’re in control of our own actions? It’s a larger version of the idea that we’re part of nature, part of an enormous universe that we barely understand.’

This piece originally appeared in the Barbican Guide for March 2023.

A person wearing a big, blue puffy coat and glasses stares towards the camera as if shocked and concerned.

For Complicité

For Complicité 

Senior Producer Tim Bell
Project Producer Josie Dale-Jones
Creative Engagement Producer Rima Dodd (Maternity Cover)
Executive Director Amber Massie-Blomfield
Artistic Director Simon McBurney
Administrator Sarah Osgerby
Creative Engagement Producer Natalie Raaum (Maternity Leave)
Finance Manager Louise Wiggins

For the tour of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

General Manager Jennie Green (for Great Leap Forward)
Associate General Manager Marlous Lang-Peterse (for Great Leap Forward)
Tour Booker Kayte Potter (for Great Leap Forward)
Production Assistant Sara Cormack (for Great Leap Forward)
Production Assistant James Miller (for Great Leap Forward)
Marketing Director Emma Laugier (for Emma Laugier Marketing)
Marketing Manager Fabienne Sinclair Morris (for Emma Laugier Marketing)
Marketing Assistant Matthew Meldrum (for Emma Laugier Marketing)
PR Kate Hassell and Ben Chamberlain (for Bread and Butter)

For the Barbican

Barbican Centre Board  
Tom Sleigh  
Deputy Chair 
Sir William Anthony Bowater Russell  
Deputy Chair   
Tobi Ruth Adebekun  

Board Members   
Munsur Ali, Randall Anderson, Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante, Stephen Bediako, Farmida Bi, Tijs Broeke, Zulum Elumogo, Gerard Grech, Ann Holmes, Wendy Hyde, Charles Edward Lord, Wendy Mead, Graham Packham, Mark Page, Alpa Raja, Jens Riegelsberger, Jane Roscoe, Despina Tsatsas, Irem Yerdelen   

Clerk to the Board   
Ben Dunleavy  

Barbican Centre Trust  Chair   
Farmida Bi CBE  
Vice Chair   
Robert Glick 

OBE Trustees   
Farmida Bi CBE, Tom Bloxham MBE, Stephanie Camu, Tony Chambers, Cas Donald, Robert Glick OBE, Tracey-Joy Harrison, David Kapur, Ann Kenrick, Kendall Langford, Sir William Anthony Bowater Russell, Tom Sleigh, Claire Spencer AM, Sian Westerman  

Chief Executive Officer     
Claire Spencer   
Artistic Director    
Will Gompertz   
Director of Operations and Buildings    
Jonathon Poyner   
Director of Development    
Natasha Harris   
Director of People, Inclusion and Culture  
Ali Mirza  
Head of Finance & Business Administration  
Sarah Wall   
Senior Executive Assistant to Claire Spencer and Will Gompertz    
Jo Daly  

Theatre Department  
Head of Theatre and Dance    
Toni Racklin    
Senior Production Manager   
Simon Bourne  
Jill Shelley, Fiona Stewart  
Assistant Producers   
Anna Dominian, Saxon Mudge, Mali Siloko  
Production Managers   
Jamie Maisey, Lee Tasker  
Technical Managers   
Steve Daly, Jane Dickerson, Nik Kennedy, Martin Morgan, Stevie Porter  
Stage Managers   
Lucinda Hamlin, Charlotte Oliver  
Technical Supervisors   
James Breedon, John Gilroy, Jamie Massey, Adam Parrott, Tom Salmon, Lawrence Sills, Chris Wilby  
PA to Head of Theatre   
David Green  

Production Administrator   
Caroline Hall  
Production Assistant   
Andrew Pellett  
Eleanor Foster, Kendell Foster, Burcham Johnson, Christian Lyons, Josh Massey, Matt Nelson  
Stage Door   
Julian Fox, aLbi Gravener  

Creative Collaboration and Learning  
Head of Creative Collaboration  
Karena Johnson  
Senior Producer  
Lauren Monaghan-Pisano  
Lauren Brown  
Assistant Producer  
Rikky Onefeli  

Marketing Department  
Acting Head of Marketing   
Ben Jefferies  
Marketing Manager    
Kyle Bradshaw  
Marketing Assistant  
Rebecca Moore   

Communications Department  
Head of Communications   
James Tringham  
Senior Communications Manager  
Ariane Oiticica   
Communications Manager  
Communications Assistant  
Sumayyah Sheikh  

Audience Experience   
Deputy Head of Audience Experience & Operations    
Sheree Miller   
Ticket Sales Managers    
Lucy Allen, Oliver Robinson, Ben Skinner, Jane Thomas   
Operations Managers    
Seán Carter, Richard Long, Rob Norris, Elizabeth Davies-Sadd, Samantha Teatheredge  
Operations Manager (Health & Safety)    
Mo Reideman   
Audience Event & Planning Manager    
Freda Pouflis   
Venue Managers    
Scott Davies, Tilly Devine, Gary Hunt, Nicola Lake, Tabitha Goble  
Assistant Venue Managers    
Suman Cheema, Giovana Lorensatto, Maria Pateli 
Crew Management    
Dave Magwood, Rob Magwood, James Towell   
Access and Licensing Manager    
Rebecca Oliver   
Security Operations Manager   
James Cocklin  

Registered charity no. 294282 


For images of the cast and creative team, please see the image gallery at the top of this page. 

Thomas Arnold
Thomas Arnold’s most recent theatre credits include A Very Expensive Poison and Fanny & Alexander for the Old Vic; The Kids Stay in the Picture for the Royal Court; and Oslo at the National Theatre. TV includes: A Spy Among Friends, MotherFatherSon, War and Peace and Broken. Films include The Aeronauts and The Woman in Black: Angel of Death.

Johannes Flaschberger
Johannes Flaschberger was born in Austria and trained with Marcel Marceau in Paris, Pavel Rouba in Barcelona at the Institut del Teatre, and with Philippe Gaulier in Paris. Theatre for Complicité includes The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol, Mnemonic, Measure for Measure, A Dog’s Heart and The Master and Margarita. For the RSC (2009/10): Othello. For the Schaubühne Berlin: Beware of Pity, Professor Bernhardi and Italienische Nacht. TV and film include: Immortal Beloved, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Bauernprinzessin, Der Bulle von Tölz, Waidmanns Dank and Adam and Evelyn.

Tamzin Griffin
Tamzin Griffin’s work with Complicité includes The Master and Margarita, A Dog’s Heart and Measure for Measure. Other work includes 24 Hours of Peace at the Royal Exchange Manchester; Mephisto [A Rhapsody] at the Gate; Present Laughter and Tonight at 8.30 at Chichester Festival Theatre; St George and the Dragon, Draw Me Close (also Tribeca Film Festival and Young Vic), Emil and the Detectives, Greenland, Our Class and A Matter of Life of Death (with Kneehigh) at the National Theatre; The War Has Not Yet Started at Theatre Royal Plymouth; Cyrano de Bergerac at Southwark Playhouse; The Hudsucker Proxy at Nuffield Theatre Southampton and Liverpool Everyman; Far Away at the Young Vic; Jedermann at Salzburger Festspiele; The Empress and Othello for the RSC; Brief Encounter for Kneehigh at Birmingham Rep and the Haymarket; Rough Magyck for Forkbeard Fantasy and the RSC; Red Demon at the Young Vic and Tokyo Bunkamara; San Diego at the Tron and Edinburgh Festival; Witness at the Gate and BAC; and Shockheaded Peter at the Lyric Hammersmith, West Yorkshire Playhouse and on national and international tour (Olivier Award for Best Entertainment).

Amanda Hadingue
Amanda Hadingue’s work with Complicité includes The Master and Margarita, The Dark is Rising (BBC World Service) and A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer. Other theatre includes: The Winter’s Tale, Miss Littlewood, The Duchess of Malfi, The Follies of Mrs Rich and The Merchant of Venice (for the RSC); A Christmas Carol and A Very Expensive Poison for the Old Vic; Top Girls and A Small Family Business at the National Theatre; Spindrift and Deciphering for curious directive; The Madness of George III at Nottingham Playhouse; I Am Thomas for National Theatre of Scotland/Told By An Idiot; Tipping the Velvet at the Lyric Hammersmith; Ghost Train at the Royal Exchange Manchester; Playing for Time at the Crucible, Sheffield; Rising Damp on UK tour; Hamlet at Shakespeare’s Globe; Get Santa! and The Wonderful World of Dissocia at the Royal Court, as well as numerous productions as a core member of Stan’s Cafe. TV includes: Good Omens, The Alienist, Flowers, Bad Move, Casualty, Holby City, Lead Balloon and Doctors. Films include: Black Pond, The Queen and The Darkest Universe.

Kathryn Hunter
Kathryn Hunter is an Olivier Award-winning actress and director. As long-term associate of Complicité, her work includes The Visit (Olivier Best Actress Award), Foe, Out of a house walked a man, Anything for a Quiet Life, Help! I’m Alive and The Winter’s Tale. Acting work includes productions of King Lear, The Chairs, Happy Days, WHY, Timon of Athens, Prometheus Unbound, The House of Bernarda Alba, Fragments, The Valley of Astonishment, The Emperor, Kafka’s Monkey, Cyrano De Bergerac, Hearts-Cards, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, A Tender Thing, Antony & Cleopatra, One Green Bottle, The Diver, The Bee, Yerma, Celestina, Whistling Psyche, Dona Rosita, Richard III, The Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, Electra, Far Away, The Rose Tattoo, The Devils, Live LIke Pigs, The Recruiting Officer, Our Country’s Good, The Hypochondriac, Women of Troy, Romeo and Juliet, Spoonface Steinberg, Mother Courage and The Skriker. Films include: The Tragedy of Macbeth, Poor Things, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Tale of Tales, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The Baby of Macon, Maria’s Child, Orlando and All or Nothing.

Kiren Kebaili-Dwyer
Kiren Kebaili-Dwyer most recently appeared in Much Ado About Nothing at the National Theatre, and played the eponymous role in Hamlet for National Theatre Learning. For film and TV, work includes: Doctors and Comedown. Audio includes recording a role for the BBC Bitesize course on the Abolition of the Slave Trade.

Weronika Maria
Weronika Maria graduated from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in 2021 with a BA Acting CDT (Collaborative and Devised Theatre). She is originally from Poland. Recent work for theatre includes: Becoming, a female-led collaborative production devised at NDT Broadgate and previewed at Theatre Deli and the Blue Elephant Theatre. She also project-managed a short film, How Are You? in Pompeii, which created a platform for Ukrainian artists. Her experimental short film essay, Curiouser and Curiouser, produced and performed during the pandemic, received a Critics’ Award at the The Cinema Femme Short Film Festival in 2020. This production marks her professional debut on the UK and international stage.

Tim McMullan
Tim McMullan has played leading roles at the National Theatre, including Man and Superman. Other work on stage includes The Misanthrope, the original production of His Dark Materials, Antony and Cleopatra and Twelfth Night. On screen he appears as detective Atticus Pünd in Magpie Murders, an ongoing series based on author Anthony Horowitz’s best-selling books. Other work on TV includes The Serpent, The Crown, Brexit, Melrose, Fearless and Witness for the Prosecution, as well as a long-standing role in Foyle’s War. Films include Enola Holmes, King Charles III, The Woman in Black, The Queen and Shakespeare in Love.

César Sarachu
César Sarachu trained with Jacques Lecoq. His work for Complicité includes The Street of Crocodiles and The Master and Margarita. Other work in theatre includes Top Dogs at the Orionteatern Stockholm; Mörkertid and Det Allra Viktigaste for Unga Klara at Stadsteatern Stockholm; Fragments and 11&12 directed by Peter Brook at Bouffes du Nord; and Reikiavik and Intensamenta Azules in Spain. Films include Institute Benjamenta and The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes, Meeting Evil, Wellkåmm to Verona, L’homme qui marche and Tiempo Después. TV includes the Spanish comedy series Cámera Café.

Sophie Steer
Sophie Steer’s work in theatre includes Exodus for National Theatre Scotland; Civilisation for Antler and New Diorama; It’s True, It’s True, It’s True and Tank (also national tour) for Breach Theatre; Dinomania and Still Ill for Kandinsky Theatre and New Diorama; Lands for Antler Theatre and the Bush; Buckets for the Orange Tree; Sparks for the Old Red Lion; and Romeo and Juliet for the Watermill Theatre. TV includes It’s True, It’s True, It’s True and Chickens. Films include Days of the Bagnold Summer.

Alexander Uzoka
Alexander Uzoka is an Italian Nigerian actor from East London and a recent graduate from the BA Acting course at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School (BOVTS). Previously, he had worked with his local theatre, Theatre Royal Stratford East, from the age of 14, which gave him the opportunity to enter and win two national monologue slams, and perform twice at the National Theatre as part of NT Connections. He has also worked with the Yard Theatre, Theatre Peckham and the Almeida, where his first written show was performed in 2022. Theatre includes, with BOVTS, Macbeth and Catastrophe Bay at Bristol Old Vic. This production marks his professional stage debut.

Simon McBurney
Simon McBurney is an actor, writer and playwright, and director of theatre, opera, film and dance. One of the most innovative, mercurial and influential theatre-makers working today, in 1983 he co-founded Complicité, since when all his work has been made through a deeply researched and highly collaborative process which fuses a profound belief that all aspects of the theatre should challenge the limits of theatrical form.

As well as creating original works, Simon McBurney has brought great plays to the stage – by Samuel Beckett, Bertolt Brecht, Mikhail Bulgakov, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Eugène Ionesco, Daniil Kharms, Arthur Miller, Bruno Schulz, Shakespare and Ruzzante – and adapted numerous works of literature. He adapted and directed The Master and Margarita (2012) for the 2012 Avignon Festival, and Stefan Zweig’s Beware of Pity (2015) for the Schaubühne Theatre, Berlin. His award-winning The Encounter (2015) was described by New York Times as ‘one of the most fully-immersive theatre pieces ever created’.

Simon is married, with three children, and lives at the end of a valley in the West Country. In 2016 his wife, Cassie, introduced him to Polly Higgins and the Stop Ecocide campaign which seeks to have ecocide (unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge there will be widespread or long-term damage to the environment) enshrined in international law. The International Criminal Court can currently prosecute just four crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression. By adding a fifth crime of ecocide to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the perpetrators of environmental destruction would suddenly be liable to arrest, prosecution and imprisonment. 

He asks that anyone reading this joins him in supporting this campaign by going to

Olga Tokarczuk
Author (original novel)
Olga Tokarczuk is the recipient of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature. She is the most translated living Polish author and the author of nine novels and three short story collections. She has twice won the most prestigious Polish literary prize, the Nike Award, for Flights (Bieguni) in 2008 and for The Books of Jacob (Księgi Jakubowe) in 2015.

Her most famous novels include Primeval and Other Times (Prawiek i Inne Czasy), House of Day, House of Night (Dom Dzienny, Dom Nocny), Flights (Bieguni), which also won the 2018 Man Booker International Prize and was shortlisted for the National Book Awards in Translated Literature 2018, and Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead (Prowadź Swój Pług Przez Kości Umarłych), translated into English by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, which was shortlisted for the 2019 Man Booker International Award, the Dublin Literary Award and the Warwick Prize, and longlisted for the National Book Awards in Translated Literature. Her epic novel, The Books of Jacob, was published in English by Fitzcarraldo, Riverhead and Text Publishing in 2021 in a translation by Jennifer Croft, and was shortlisted for the 2022 Booker International Award. Her latest novel, Empuzjon, published in 2022, is now being translated into English. Her work has been translated into more than 50 languages.

Olga Tokarczuk lives in Wroclaw where she has established a foundation that runs educational programmes and provides support for writers and translators.

Rae Smith
Set and Costume Designer
Rae Smith’s set and costume design work for Complicité includes The Street of Crocodiles, The Visit (plus foyer installation at the Almeida), Help! I’m Alive, Wiseguy Scapino and Ave Maria. Her recent theatre designs include A Doll’s House, Part 2 at the Donmar; Rigoletto (South Bank Sky Arts Award) for Opera North; Kae Tempest’s Paradise at the National Theatre; Uncle Vanya at the Harold Pinter Theatre and for film (South Banks Sky Arts Award and Olivier nomination for set); Girl from the North Country on Broadway, in the West End and at the Old Vic; Barbershop Chronicles at BAM, the Roundhouse and National Theatre; and Rosmersholm at the Duke of York’s (Olivier nomination for set). During the Covid-19 lockdowns, Rae Smith designed better mentally healthy working spaces for her local hospital and school, and sold her art prints to raise funds for Women’s Refuge. Other theatre designs include War Horse, where she drew all the backgrounds (Tony and Olivier awards for set), and then went on to perform live drawing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall. See Instagram @drawingfellowucal for sketches for Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead.

Paule Constable
Lighting Designer
Paule Constable is a Royal Designer for Industry, an Associate Director of the National Theatre, and an Associate of the Lyric Hammersmith and Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures. She has won the Olivier Award for Best Lighting Design a record five times, and been nominated for a further nine. Theatre includes: LIGHT: Bach Dances for Hofesh Schechter Company; The Glass Menagerie, Cock and Les Misérables (25th anniversary) in the West End; and for the National Theatre: The Normal Heart, The Ocean at the End of the Lane (also West End), Master Harold and the Boys, Pericles (Public Acts), Nine Night (also West End), Follies, Angels in America parts 1 and 2 (also Broadway), The Red Barn, The Threepenny Opera, The Light Princess, This House, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (also West End and Broadway), War Horse (also West End, Toronto, Australia, US tour and Broadway), Saint Joan and His Dark Materials.

Christopher Shutt
Sound Designer
Christopher Shutt’s recent work includes Much Ado About Nothing, The Corn is Green, Paradise and Romeo and Juliet (also for Sky Arts) at the National Theatre; The Clinic at the Almeida; Closer at the Lyric Hammersmith; Murder on the Orient Express at Chichester Festival Theatre; Dreamachine for Unboxed Festival; Four Quartets in the West End; and What If If Only at the Royal Court. Other theatre includes A Disappearing Number, The Elephant Vanishes, The Noise of Time, Mnemonic, The Caucasian Chalk Circle and The Street of Crocodiles for Complicité; War Horse (Tony Award), Antony and Cleopatra, Julie, John, Twelfth Night, Man and Superman and Every Good Boy Deserves Favour at the National Theatre; Hamlet, Macbeth, Timon of Athens (also New York and Washington), Oppenheimer (also West End), Wendy and Peter Pan and Much Ado About Nothing at the RSC; Hamlet (with Benedict Cumberbatch) at the Barbican; The Twilight Zone and The Treatment at the Almeida; and St Nicholas, Far Away, Aristocrats, Knives in Hens, Faith Healer and Privacy at the Donmar Warehouse.

Dick Straker
Video Designer
Founder of Mesmer, Dick Straker’s work in theatre and opera includes: Steve at Seven Dials; The Long Song at Chichester Festival Theatre; Walls and Windows and Tales of Ballycumber at the Abbey Dublin; A Monster Calls and Richard II at the Old Vic, Greek for Scottish Opera; Carmen and Fortunio for Grange Park Festival Opera; Don Juan in Soho in the West End; Aida and Andrea Chenier for Opera North; Notorious for Gothenburg Opera; Cymbeline and Love’s Sacrifice for the RSC; The Commission and Café Kafka, two operas for Aldeburgh and the Linbury; Roots at the Donmar Warehouse; Paper Dolls for Tricycle Theatre; Going Dark for Fuel Theatre; Tiger Country at Hampstead Theatre; The Mountaintop at Trafalgar Studios; Rushes for the Royal Ballet; The Ring Cycle for the Royal Opera House; Sugar Mummies and Hitchcock Blonde at the Royal Court; Julius Caesar at the Barbican; The Woman in White in the West End and in New York; and Henry V, The Coast of Utopia, Jumpers and The Powerbook at the National Theatre.

Kirsty Housley
Additional Direction
Kirsty Housley is a director, writer and dramaturg working across theatre, film and digital. Recent work includes Jekyll and Hyde (as director) for the National Theatre; Extinct (as director and dramaturg) for Theatre Royal Stratford East; The Long Goodbye (as director of live show and livestream) with Riz Ahmed for Manchester International Festival/BAM; Can I Live? (as dramaturg) and The Encounter (as co-director) for Complicité; Mephisto [A Rhapsody] (as director) at the Gate; Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran and The Believers are but Brothers (as director and co-creator with Javaad Alipoor); Tao of Glass with Philip Glass (as director) for Manchester International Festival; Avalanche: A Love Story (as dramaturg) at the Barbican and Sydney Theatre; Misty (as dramaturg) at the Bush and in the West End; and Myth (as director and co-writer) for the RSC. Kirsty Housley is currently an RSC Digital Fellow.

Laurence Cook
Laurence Cook is a dramaturg, theatre-maker and audio producer. He has worked with acclaimed companies this egg and RashDash with the National Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe. He specialises in supporting solo work, including Soho Theatre Rising award-winning shows Ryan Lane Will Be There Now In a Minute and Baubo: Goddess of Filth. Laurence Cook is a graduate of the Royal Court Young Writers Programme, the Young Vic Genesis Network and now reads for Playwright’s Studio Scotland. He has also worked for community companies Old Vic New Voices and The Big House. As an audio producer he has worked across BBC networks on live arts, culture and music radio, documentaries (including the award-winning The Digital Human), and drama.

Sian Ejiwunmi-Le Berre
Sian Ejiwunmi-Le Berre is a writer, actor and theatre-maker. Work for theatre includes assistant director on Roy Williams’ and Clint Dyer’s Death of England parts 1 and 2 at the National Theatre; and assistant director for Complicité on Clint Dyer’s The Happy Tragedy of Being Woke at the Edinburgh Festival. She has worked in several TV writers’ rooms, writing an episode of soon-to-be-released Nautilus for Disney+. She has several original upcoming TV series in production and development, ranging from YA fantasy and musicals, to murder mysteries. Radio includes Radio 4 classic serials Les Liaisons Dangereuses and The Medici, along with her comic play When Fanny Met Germaine. Sian Ejiwunmi-Le Berre was previously a professional songwriter and continues to act in TV, film and theatre.

Toby Sedgwick
Movement Director
Toby Sedgwick trained at the Jacques Lecoq School in Paris, where he founded The Moving Picture Mime Show which established itself as one of the innovators of physical theatre throughout the world. He won the 2008 Olivier Award as Director of Movement and Horse Choreographer for War Horse, playing Ted Narracott in the original production. Toby Sedgwick has worked internationally and extensively in UK theatres, including Swallows and Amazons and The Little Mermaid at Bristol Old Vic; War Horse and The 39 Steps in the West End and on tour, and has performed in and co-devised several Complicité shows including Help! I’m Alive, Out of a house walked a man, The Noise of Time, Light, The Master and Margarita and A Dog’s Heart. He collaborated with Danny Boyle on the London 2012 Olympics as Director of Movement and Choreographer of the Industrial Revolution, the NT production of Frankenstein, and appeared in Boyle’s film 28 Days Later. His movement direction can be seen in the films Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang and Stan and Ollie, and most recently in Danny Boyle’s Pistol for Disney TV. As an actor, his most recent theatre production was with Kathryn Hunter and the late Marcello Magni in the production of The Chairs by Eugène Ionesco, translated, adapted and directed by Omar Olerian at the Almeida in early 2022.

Richard Skelton
Original Compositions
Richard Skelton is a British musician. His uniquely expressive use of stringed instruments was developed on a series of ground-breaking albums: Box of Birch (2007), Marking Time (2008), Landings (2009), and Verse of Birds (2011). Over the past decade-and-a-half his recorded music has been used in feature films (The Mountain, The Loneliest Planet, The River) and documentaries (Territoire Perdu, Les Tourmentes, Small Country). More recently, he has produced scores for films, including Mark Gill’s Morrissey biopic England is Mine (2017), and Pierre-Yves Vandeweerd’s exploration of the ghosts of genocide in Armenian Azerbaijan, Les Eternels (2017). He has also written work for the Elysian Quartet, the Charles Linehan Dance Company, and numerous arts organisations including Art Assembly, AV Festival, Atlas Arts, Borealis Festival and HIAP. Since 2009, he has been co-director of the multimedia publishing house, Corbel Stone Press, with the Canadian poet Autumn Richardson.

Gemma Brockis
Assistant Director
Gemma Brockis studied at Cambridge and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. She is a founder member of Shunt, and shared the artistic direction with the collective from 2000-2014. Shunt shows include The Boy Who Climbed out of his Face, The ArchitectsMoneyAmato Saltone starring Kittens & Wade, Tropicana (both with the National Theatre), Dance Bear DanceThe Tennis Show and The Ballad of Bobby Francois. Other work as director/maker includes Kingdom Come for the RSC; Still Night at Kochi Museum of Art and on international tour; Pinocchio for Aurora Nova and on international tour; and Oddvent, an online lockdown project. As a performer, theatre work includes There has Possibly been an Incident at the Royal Exchange, Manchester; Crow for Handspring and the National Theatre; ... Sisters for Headlong; Madman and Speed Death of the Radiant Child at Theatre Royal Plymouth; and Napoleon in Exile at the Traverse Theatre. Film includes No Light and No Land Anywhere and Dream Agency. Gemma Brockis has directed projects at various drama schools including RADA and LAMDA.

Johanna Coe
Associate Costume Designer
Johanna Coe’s costume design work includes Ugly Lies the Bone at the National Theatre; Stella at Brighton Festival and Hoxton Hall; and Endgame at the Donmar Warehouse. Associate costume design work includes The Caucasian Chalk Circle for the National Theatre/Complicité; Translations, Paradise and War Horse (also West End and international) at the National Theatre; This House at Chichester Festival Theatre; and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in the West End. Recent costume supervision work includes A Number at the Bridge Theatre; The Night of the Iguana in the West End; The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie at the Donmar; and The Glass Menagerie in the West End. Other work with Complicité includes The Street of Crocodiles, The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol and Out of a house walked a man. TV includes Assistant Costume Design on Harlots and The Sound of Music Live. Johanna Coe was awarded a BAFTA TV Award for Outstanding Costume on The Sound of Music Live.

Susanna Peretz
Wigs Designer
Theatre includes: The Time Traveller’s Wife at the Storyhouse Chester); The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in the West End, on UK tour, at the Curve and the Bridge; A Midsummer Night's Dream, A Very, Very, Very, Dark Matter and Julius Caesar at the Bridge; Death of a Salesman at the Young Vic and in the West End; Hamlet at Theatre Royal Windsor; Noises Off and Everybody's Talking About Jamie in the West End; Doubt: A ParableThe Long SongHedda Tesman, Plenty at Chichester Festival Theatre; Carousel and Peter Pan at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre; Is God Is, Pity, Girls and Boys, Road, Linda, Birdland, The Nether, The Kid Stays In The Picture, The Twits, X and Hangmen (also West End) at the Royal Court; Machinal, Medea, Mary Stuart, Oresteia and Hamlet (also West End) at the Almeida; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead at the Old Vic; The Grinning Man at Bristol Old Vic and Trafalgar Studios; Bugsy Malone (also UK tour); Ghost Stories, Scandaltown and Love, Love, Love at the Lyric Hammersmith; and The Way of the World and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie at the Donmar Warehouse.

Lucía Sánchez Roldán
Associate Lighting Designer
As lighting designer, Lucía Sánchez Roldán’s work for theatre includes: The Walworth Farce at Southwark Playhouse Elephant; The Wonderful World of Dissocia at Theatre Royal Stratford East; Grate at National Theatre of Kosovo; Fefu and Her Friends and Not About Nightingales at Tobacco Factory; Bogeyman at the Pleasance/Camden’s People Theatre; Black, el Payaso at the Arcola and Cervantes Theatre; Camp Albion at the Watermill Theatre; We Are the Best! at Live Theatre; Tapped at Theatre503; The Forest Awakens, Code and Dagger and A New Beginning at the Kiln; The Gift at GBS RADA; Barbarians at the Barbican; Everything Must Go for Playground; Invisibles and The First at VAULT Festival; The Spirit at BAC; Ms Julie and Utopia Room at The Place; The Niceties at the Finborough; and How We Begin at the King’s Head. As associate lighting designer, theatre includes: two Palestinians go dogging at the Royal Court; Cabaret at the Playhouse; Camp Siegfried at the Old Vic; Taboo: Anniversary Concert at the London Palladium; The Mirror and the Light, Amélie, Les Misérables – The Staged Concert and The Fishermen (also Marlowe Canterbury) in the West End; and Moonlight and Magnolias at Nottingham Playhouse.

Ella Wahlström
Sound Associate
Ella Wahlström is a London-based sound designer, born in Finland and trained at Rose Bruford College. She is a board member of the Association of Sound Designers and was one of the original sound operators of Complicité’s The Encounter. Recent sound designs for theatre include: Peter Pan Goes Wrong on Broadway; The Unfriend in the West End; A Christmas Carol at Alexandra Palace; Ava: The Secret Conversations at Riverside Studios; Dogs of Europe at the Barbican; The Wicker Husband at the Watermill Theatre; Rare Earth Mettle and Inside Bitch at the Royal Court; The Lemon Table for Michael Grandage Company; Piaf at Nottingham Playhouse; I Think We Are Alone for Frantic Assembly; Noises Off in the West End; Jellyfish and Sometimes Thinking (River Stage) at the National Theatre; Black & White at SJACC Kuwait; Trying it On for the RSC and Royal Court; and The Life for English Theatre Frankfur). She is the sound designer of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Cello Concerto which premiered in Chicago in 2017 with Yo-Yo Ma as the soloist.

With thanks

With thanks from the Barbican

The Barbican sparks creative possibilities and transformation forartists, audiences and communities – to inspire, connect, and provoke debate. 

As a not-for-profit, we need to raise twothirds of our income through fundraising,ticket sales, and commercial activities. Withthe help of our generous supporters, weare able to share the work of some of themost inspiring and visionary artists andcreatives, enabling the widest possibleaudience to experience the joy of the arts.  

There are many ways you can supportthe Barbican, including by making adonation, joining our programme asa sponsor, or becoming a Member.To find out more and join ourcommunity, please visit or contact [email protected] 

Founder and principal funder
The City of London Corporation

Major Supporters
Arts Council England
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch)
SHM Foundation
The Terra Foundation for American Art

Leading Supporters
Lonti Ebers
Trevor Fenwick and Jane Hindley
Marcus Margulies

Programme Supporters
Marie-Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre (Spirit Now London)
Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery
Sayeh Ghanbari
Elizabeth and J Jeffry Louis
Pat and Pierre Maugüé 
The Clare McKeon Charitable Trust
Hugh Monk
Romilly Walton Masters Award
The Rudge Shipley Charitable Trust

Director’s Circle
Anonymous (1), Farmida Bi, Tom and Jo Bloxham MBE, Philippe and Stephanie Camu, Cas Donald, Alex and Elena Gerko, Trevor Fenwick and Jane Hindley, Ruth and Stuart Lipton, Tracey, Eloise and Max Mayerson, John Murray, Natrium Capital Limited

Corporate Supporters
Audible Bank of America, Bloomberg, Bolt Burdon Kemp, DLA Piper Google Arts & Culture, Linklaters LLP, Morrison Foerster, Norton Rose Fulbright, Osborne Clarke, Pinsent Masons, Sotheby’s, Slaughter and May, Taittinger, UBSTrusts & Grantmakers, Art Fund, Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne, The Austin and Hope Pilkington Charitable Trust, Bagri Foundation, CHK Foundation, Cockayne – Grants for the Arts, John S Cohen Foundation, Goethe-Institut London, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Italian Cultural Institute in London, Korean Cultural Centre UK, Kusuma Trust UK, London Community Foundation, Mactaggart Third Fund, The Polonsky Foundation, Rix-Thompson-Rothenberg Foundation, Swiss Cultural Fund,

We also want to thank the Barbican Patrons, Members, and the many thousands who made a donation when purchasing tickets or at the Centre.

The Barbican Centre Trust, registeredcharity no. 294282

With thanks from Complicité 

Thank you to the following actors and creatives who worked with us in R&D and rehearsals: David Annen, Bronya Deutsch, Joe Dines, Vicky Eames, Naomi Frederick, Ben Grant, Stephanie Levi-John, Richard Katz, Robert Luckay, Susan Lynch, Clive Mendus, David Riley. Surenee Somchit, Grzegorz Staniewicz, Miles Yekinni.

Complicité production team thanks: Lesley McNamara, Karen Spahn (creation of typeface), Gemma Swallow, George Thompson, Miraculous Engineering, National Theatre of Scotland, Royal Court Theatre, Sparks Theatrical Hire, Stage Sound Services and Whitelight.

Complicité Funders and supporters
Complicité thanks The Mirisch & Lebenheim Charitable Foundation, John Ellerman Foundation, John Lyon’s Charity, Backstage Trust, Maria Björnson Memorial Fund and the Polish Cultural Institute, London for their generous support of this production and the surrounding education and community projects.

Complicité is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation

This production was also generously supported by a legacy.

Bublu & Siegmar Thakur-Weigold, Clive & Sue Woodford-Hollick

Pamela Edwardes, Ernest Fasanya & Jenny Stevens, Jon & Julia Hall, Richard Harrison, Frances Hughes, Melanie Johnson, Frances Magee, Chris & Clem Martin, Constantine Partasides & Patricia Cabredo Hofherr, Hope Pym, Michael Tian & Sharon Zhu, Eliot Vaughan, Geoff Westmore, Kate Walmsley

Bill Bingham, Nitya Bolam, Frances Connan, Simon Dormandy, Claire Gough, Dina Priddle, Anthony Whitworth-Jones, Anne Willcocks CBE, Julie Yeung

Support Complicité

For 40 years, Complicité has been at the forefront of pioneering theatre, making art of exceptional quality and ambition. As a registered charity, fundraising is an essential part of our ecology. From £100 a year, you can play a vital role in Complicité’s future, supporting us to create unique artistic exchanges with world-leading artists and share these with the widest range of audiences and participants in the UK and internationally. We can’t do what we do without you.

Donating to Complicité helps us to:

  • Commission and present our world-leading signature productions
  • Invest in the generation of emerging artistic talent through through our Mudlarks strand
  • Provide unique opportunities for school and community groups to participate in workshops and projects
  • Ensure our work reaches the widest possible audience; in theatres and through digital interventions

Join our Aficionados, Accomplices and Allies by making a yearly or a one-off donation and if you are a UK taxpayer, for every £1 you donate Complicité can claim an additional 25p from HM Revenue and Customs. Please visit to donate today.

Making a gift in your Will, no matter how large or small, helps to support our future. If you are interested please contact Louise Wiggins on 020 7485 7700 or [email protected].

Stop Ecocide

Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead is the latest in a series of Complicité projects that urgently address the destruction of the planet. As active supporters of Stop Ecocide, Simon McBurney and Complicité are inviting audiences to join the international campaign to make ecocide a crime

Ecocide is the mass damage and destruction of ecosystems - severe harm to nature which is widespread or long-term.

It includes ocean damage, deforestation, land and water contamination and air pollution. As citizens we can and must take responsibility for what we eat and buy, but ordinary citizens do not make high level investment and policy decisions. Ordinary citizens cannot be blamed for ecocide. Right now, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) lists four crimes: Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes and Crimes Against Aggression. The Statute can be amended to add a fifth crime: ECOCIDE. Unlike suing and fining corporations, making ecocide a crime creates an arrestable offence. It makes those individuals who are responsible for acts or decisions that lead to severe environmental harm liable to criminal prosecution.

In this way Earth’s most precious ecosystems can be protected and allowed to recover.

How can you help?
Step 1: sign the international petition
Step 2: become an Earth Protector
Step 3: tell everybody


Hear more about Complicité and their connection to Stop Ecocide at the pre-show talk at 6pm on Wed 22 Mar, where Jojo Mehta of Stop Ecocide will join a panel of speakers including journalist and author, Jack Shenker, and Clare Farrell of Extinction Rebellion.