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Leverhulme event series to celebrate stage adaptation with stars of modern theatre

A series of events that explore different approaches to stage adaptation is set to take place at Queen Mary, University of London as part of the College’s London 2012-inspired cultural celebrations.

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Rimini Protokoll, Herrmann's Battle (2011). Photo: MuTphoto/Barbara Braun
Rimini Protokoll, Herrmann's Battle (2011). Photo: MuTphoto/Barbara Braun

The Leverhulme Olympic Talks on Theatre and Adaptation is a series of public interviews that coincide with the international aspirations of the Games. Speakers include some of contemporary theatre’s most respected writers, directors, performance artists and academics, many of whom are based at Queen Mary’s Department of Drama.

The events, which are open to the public and are set to run between April and November 2012, focus on the transition of existing work by artists, writers and film makers onto the modern stage.

Themes across the event series include the notions of adaptation, appropriation and re-enactment in performance, the concept of subversive adaptation and the radical reinterpretation of classics, such as Greek tragedies or Shakespeare.

The first event on Tuesday 3 April sees Dominic Johnson, Lecturer in Drama at Queen Mary, discuss adaptation with live artist Julia Bardsley and London-based theatre director, choreographer and designer Simon Vincenzi.

Award-winning director Romeo Castellucci of Societas Raffaello Sanzio, Italy’s leading experimental theatre company, will speak on Tuesday 24 April. Castelluci’s productions regularly appear at the most prestigious theatres and festivals world-wide. He will discuss the practice and processes of adaptation with Nicholas Ridout, Reader in Theatre and Performance Studies at Queen Mary and co-author of The Theatre of Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio.

Other major names from the contemporary theatre-world set to speak at the event series include artist and Queen Mary academic Lois Weaver; directors Katie Mitchell, Rubén Szuchmacher and Peter Sellars; Helgard Haug of directing-collective Rimini Protokoll; writers Colin Teevan, Mohamed Kacimi, Alexandra Wood and Dennis Kelly; and celebrated puppeteers Basil Jones, Adrian Kohler and Mervyn Millar of Handspring Puppet Company.

The events are sponsored by the Leverhulme Trust, Queen Mary’s Drama Department and the Olympic Programme.

“Recent theatrical productions as diverse in form as experimental performance, West End drama, musicals and live art have shown a recurring fascination with adapting existing works by other artists. These talks reflect on performance’s near-obsessive desire to return, repeat, rewrite and revisit,” says Dr Margherita Laera, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Queen Mary and Convenor of the event series.

Drawing on the array of work making up the Cultural Olympiad (the UK’s cultural celebration, inspired by the London 2012 games) and London's cosmopolitan performance scene, the events will see theatre practitioners and scholars of diverse backgrounds explore different approaches to stage adaptation.

 “The transition of an existing source or stimulus to the stage – be it film, book, play, artwork, or other performance – is not a smooth one. It requires negotiations of numerous kinds – across languages and cultures, taking into account ideological, ethical, aesthetic and political differences,” Dr Laera adds.


  1. Tuesday 3rd April: Julia Bardsley and Simon Vincenzi in conversation with Dominic Johnson
  2. Tuesday 24th April: Romeo Castellucci of Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio in conversation with Nicholas Ridout
  3. Friday 4 May: Alexandra Wood and Dennis Kelly in conversation with Aleks Sierz (1.15pm at ICA)
  4. Tuesday 8th May: Lois Weaver in conversation with Jen Harvie
  5. Tuesday 15th May: Katie Mitchell in conversation with Dan Rebellato
  6. Tuesday 22 May: Rubén Szuchmacher in conversation with Catherine Silverstone
  7. Tuesday 12th June: Mohamed Kacimi and Colin Teevan in conversation with Sarah Grochala
  8. Tuesday 19 June: Helgard Haug of Rimini Protokoll in conversation with Margherita Laera
  9. Thursday 5 July: Handspring Puppet Company and Jane Taylor in Conversation with Nadia Davids
  10. Monday 16 July: Peter Sellars in conversation with Karen Fricker


Each event comprises of an informal conversation, or interview, followed by questions from the audience and a drinks reception.

Time: All events take place from 6 to 8 pm unless otherwise stated. Drink receptions will follow each event.

Venue: Film and Drama Studio, Arts Two Building, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS (unless otherwise stated)

Events are free but places are limited and booking is essential. For bookings and a full programme of events, visit:

For further information, contact Dr Margherita Laera:

For media information, contact:

Rupert Marquand
Media Relations Manager
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