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A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction

Katie Mitchell/Headlong/Barbican

Lydia West stars in A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction

Miranda Rose Hall’s darkly funny, life-affirming show starring Lydia West is directed by Katie Mitchell. This is a bold experiment in eco theatre-making, created with leading touring company Headlong.

Naomi is part of a theatre company who have made a play especially for you, those living through extinction, but the actors haven’t shown up yet. In the meantime, Naomi has a plan. 

This innovative one woman show takes us on a life-changing journey to confront the urgent ecological disaster that is unfolding around us. Part ritual, part battle cry, and powered entirely by bicycles, this fiercely feminist production is a moving exploration of what it means to be human in this era of man-made extinction. Featuring live music from Citizens of the World Choir.

Sharing learning from Europe, Headlong presents Katie Mitchell’s innovative touring model, the first of its kind in the UK, which sees a play tour, while the people and materials do not. 

It's part of a ground-breaking international experiment in reimagining theatre in a climate crisis.

Running time: 1 hr 10 mins, no interval 

Age guidance: 14+ (The show contains themes of a seriously ill parent)

BSL-Interpreted performances
Wed 26 Apr, 7.45pm (BSL-Interpreted by Rachel Jones)
Thu 27 Apr, 7.45pm (BSL-Interpreted by Rachel Jones)

Post-show talk with director Katie Mitchell, facilitated by Leah Borromeo
Fri 28 Apr, Theatre (free to same-day ticket holders)

Pre-show members' talk
Q&A with director Katie Mitchell for Barbican Members
Sat 29 Apr, 6pm, Fountain Room

BSL-interpreted performances
Wed 26, Thu 27 and Sat 29 Apr, 7.45pm, Theatre (BSL-interpreted by Rachel Jones)

Co-produced by Headlong and the Barbican. 

The original production of “A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction” directed by Katie Mitchell was created at the Theatre Vidy-Lausanne as part of the project  “Sustainable Theatre ?”, conceived by Katie Mitchell, Jérôme Bel and Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne, with the collaboration of the Competence Centre in Sustainability of the University of Lausanne, co-produced by STAGES - Sustainable Theatre Alliance for a Green Environmental Shift (NTGent - Théâtre de Liège - National Theatre of Croatia in Zagreb - MC93, Maison de la culture de Seine-Saint-Denis - Trafo House of Contemporary Arts - Piccolo Teatro di Milano, Teatro d'Europa - Lithuanian National Drama Theatre - Teatro Nacional D. Maria II - Maribor Slovene National Theatre - The Royal Dramatic Theatre, Dramaten, Stockholm - National Theater & Concert Hall, Taipei) and co-funded by the European Union. “Sustainable Theatre ?” includes two shows and a workshop touring in the form of scripts recreated locally.


‘A touring company of generous unpredictability‘
Observer on Headlong
‘Fearsome innovators‘
The Telegraph on Headlong

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Headlong are excited to present an innovative touring model conceived by Katie Mitchell and developed with the support of Jérôme Bel and Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne. The play tours whilst the people and materials do not. Sharing learning from Europe, the Barbican hosts the beginning of this journey, the first of its kind in the UK.

In each city a blueprint of this show will be uniquely brought to life by local teams, in a daring zero travel tour. It forms part of a ground-breaking international experiment in reimagining theatre in a climate crisis.

This is Headlong’s second major touring experiment. They are also the company behind Signal Fires, a national festival during the pandemic that saw over forty touring companies return to the origins of theatre: telling stories to audiences in their thousands around fires. Together with Katie Mitchell, they continue to rethink theatre making in a time of crisis. 

Internationally renowned artist Mitchell, who has made six pieces about climate change, directs this new version of Miranda Rose Hall’s acclaimed play. Both director and writer share an artistic and social awareness about the intersection between feminism and eco-activism. 

Mitchell is drawing on and furthering her work on the Sustainable Theatre? project with this production and tour, which she originally conceived with the support of the French choreographer Jérôme Bel and Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne. The three joined forces to imagine a theatre experiment of international scope that would be ecological both in its content and in its production process.