Our first daily blog from inside the Dizraeli development week

I arrive in the morning at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith with my guitar and trumpet, not having a clue what I’m about to be taking part in but it’s something like…a workshop for a week for nabokov who want to do something about storytelling and folklore and music. To someone who doesn’t know any of the people they’re about to meet and comes armed only with the above information this could potentially be a memorable experience for all the wrong reasons and as I journey in I begin to have excruciating thoughts about the day as it could unfold.; “OK everyone thanks for coming, now what we like to do on the first day is pretend we’re tree elves who make fruity yoghurts so if we could all take our clothes off….”

This however was not the case. (In fact, as I write, I remember that I was the only person on the first day, who offered to go naked but having seen the utter lack of interest on the faces of the others I surmised this was not a winning suggestion and relented.)

Instead I found myself sitting around a table with a group of lovely people, interested and interesting, who have all been brought in to offer something different to whatever “thing” we might have to offer by the end of the week. There’s Joe and Paul, the director and producer from nabokov. There’s Rachel who is a storyteller/poet and - though she doesn’t say - a pretty fine singer. There’s Rowan, aka Dizraeli, a rap artist whose words and rhythms are influenced a great deal by folk. There’s Sophia who has written and researched a number of books relating to folklore and a couple are on the table - impressive for their size and the reviews on the back! And then there’s me (Ben), Harry, Remy and Josie, all of us describing ourselves as actor/musicians or something similar and who’s gonna argue given the small arsenal of instruments we’ve each brought with us? 
I won’t detail the days events but the sessions went something like this:-
1) A little jamming led by Harry and his beautiful cello (plus FX box!)
2) Once everyone had convened - late arrivals due to US Embassy visits, family shenanigans and bad Bristol busses - we chatted around the subject of fairytales, folklore, meanings and memories, films and theatre, modern versus old, pitfalls and pratfalls and…..LOADS
3) Lunch (lovely noodle soup from the Vietnamese market stall outside the theatre.) then another jamming session with all of us putting in a bit so we’ve got glockenspiel, guitar, cello, accordion, a chorus of voices and a bin as a drum. 
4) In a circle, now, to do a sort of “Rap Class” led by the mighty Rowan where we all set up a beat then a line of ‘stream of conscious‘ verse would be thrown out by one of us and then the next person in line would have to follow - on the beat - with their own attempt at a rhyme. It might sound simple and it should be but….!(“Cipher” is the word used in the world of Rap for such a group, Rowan tells me. Why? Because a cipher is a zero in it’s original meaning ie a circle. Everyday’s a school day) 
5) By the end of the day I’m exhausted, my head is full as an egg, I’ve laughed and been laughed at (chiefly the latter) , riffed and rapped about everything - yes, EVERYTHING - from The Epic of Gilgamesh to Bruce Lee’s 1-inch punch. I’ve been taken outside my comfort zone and then I’ve taken the scenic route back and it’s good to be reminded that’s often the best way to travel.
Can’t wait to see where we get to by Friday.

A week until we open BUNNY in New York!

 image from

We're not really sure how it happened, but suddenly with only a week left of our sell-out run at the Soho Theatre (book tickets here) we're off to New York to open another production of Jack Thorne's "brilliant minature play" (according to Time Out).

The flights are booked, our visas are ready and we can't wait to be heading off to the Big Apple to educate the Americans about Luton. We'll be keeping you updated on what audiences think of the show when it's at 59E59 Theaters, but in the meantime if you haven't seen it while it's here, get booking. After sold out shows last week and only two left for tomorrow (even after we added more seats!), you've got to get there fast if you want to see it.



**** The Guardian
**** Time Out
**** The Scotsman
**** The Financial Times

Soho Theatre, London
Wed 12 – Sat 29 October 2011 8pm; Fri and Sat Matinees at 2.30pm
2 - 20 November 2011 (Times vary)
Box Office: 212.753.5959 /  

Find us on facebook
Watch the trailer



4 Stars and Critics' Choice in TIME OUT for Jack Thorne's BUNNY

We had a fantastic first week of performances at the Soho Theatre, and this week we're Critics' Choice in TimeOut!

"Rosie Wyatt is excellent as Katie"

"Thorne writes with exceptional drive and insight"

"a brilliant minature play about Britain"

Read the full review here.

Make sure you pop along to the Soho Theatre in the next two weeks so you don't miss it! Wednesday is sold out, but we do have tickets later on in the week.

BUNNY by Jack Thorne

Soho Theatre, London

Wed 12 – Sat 29 October 2011 8pm; Fri and Sat Matinees at 2.30pm

020 7478 0100 /


Rosie and Joe discuss BUNNY

We've spent the morning at the Soho Theatre preparing for our first performance this evening (we can't wait).

In the meantime, thought, we thought we share with you a short video of Artistic Director Joe Murphy and actor Rosie Wyatt talking about the play.

And if you want to find out more, come along to the Soho Theatre at 8pm this evening (or another night in the next three weeks).


***** Five Stars, 

***** Five Stars, Manchester Evening News 

***** Five Stars, Watford Observer 

**** Four Stars, Scotsman

**** Four Stars, Financial Times 

**** Four Stars, Independent 

**** Four Stars, Fest 

**** Four Stars, Three Weeks 

**** Four Stars, British Theatre Guide

Bunny by Jack Thorne

Soho Theatre, London

Wed 12 – Sat 29 October 2011 8pm; Fri and Sat Matinees at 2.30pm

020 7478 0100 /


59E59 Theaters, NYC

Wed 2 - Sun 20 November 2011

212.753.5959 /

5630. Hot water bottles made by your mum


We've got lots of exciting plans for the wonderful Every Brilliant Thing next year. We're going to take our tent round some festivals, and perhaps find a more permanent home for the installation in a gallery. And there's a couple more cool ideas for it too that we're not allowed talk about yet. All of which reqire you to submit more brilliant things and spread the word.

Just to recap - Every Brilliant Thing is a list of everything that's brilliant. Designers Simon Daw and Paul Burgess have turned the list into a beautiful installation within which Sleeve Notes (Duncan Macmillan's monologue that inspired the project) is performed.

The list currently resides on Facebook here, where more than 1,200 people have submitted over 5,000 brilliant things.
Here's EBT mastermind Duncan Macmillan: "There's an average of 5 posts per member. So I thought, why don't we all try to post (at least) 5 more things each? That shouldn't take any time at all and would take us to 10,000. Don't worry about repetition (we're trying to keep on top of that ourselves), just list as many things as you can that are brilliant. If you can only think of one thing to add then that's great too."

Yes. What he said. Do more brilliant things. Go and add one now.

Here are some recent additions to the list:

5612 The colours and smell of autumn
5625 Spotify
5630 hot water bottles made by your mum
5640 My wife in her pants, and only her pants
When you're listening to music and something, like a chiming clock or streetlamps going past the window, seems to fall into rhythm with the beat of the song.

Oh, and there will soon be a new website at but we haven't finished making it yet. You'll be the first to know when we do.

"A glimpse of magic"


Ok, so it was months and months ago now, but would you indulge us a little blog post about Latitude? It is, after all, cold and miserable and wintery, so a brief excursion into reminiscence about warmer, cider-drinking times is just what's needed.

Basically, we found some links we never got round to posting and - well - thought better late than never.

So here's lots of Whatsonstage coverage of Latitude including an interview with our stage manager Kirsten Turner.

Here's the Guardian review which describes Every Brilliant Thing - alongside nabokov friends and collaborators Tangled Feet and Rachel Rose Reid - as "a glimpse of magic".

And here's a Guardian blog which gives us a very nice namecheck, though we heartily disagree with much of the rest of it.

There's loads of photos of our Latitude shows on our Flickr stream and videos of festival shenanigans on YouTube.

Ah, summer. Why hast thou forsaken us? Bring on next year.

From slumber to standing ovation

We just came across this show report from the 2ND MAY 1997 tour. The notes - particularly no.6 - made us giggle, so we thought we'd share...

2nd May 1997
Show Report 34

Date: Tuesday 20/10/09 House No:78
Venue: Palace Theatre, Watford
Stage Manager (on the book): Nick Hayman
Duty Tech: Dan Frost

Up Down Time
Part 1 19.48 20.20 32 min
Part 2 20.22 20.50 28 min
Part 3 20.51 21.21 30 min

Total playing time: 1 hour 30 min
Total running time: 1 hour 33 min

Present- George Perrin, Anna Eveleigh, Caroline Dyott (Bush Theatre).
1. A latecomer was admitted by FOH staff during the opening sequence, despite FOH clearance having been given. CSM to liase with FOH staff to prevent this happening again.
2. There was a crash from the back row of the auditorium (DS side) towards the end of Part One – cause unknown.
3. A wrist-watch ‘hour’ beep was heard during Part Three.
4. One of the pillows fell halfway off the stage during Part Two – it remained there until the scene change into Part Three when it was cleared by Mr Samuel.
5. Technically a clean show.
6. A very attentive house, with the exception of one audience member, unfortunately seated in the front row, who slept through Part One, only to reawaken for Part Two and Three and give an enthusiastic standing ovation at the end - in front of a lighting boom. Two calls taken.
7. Following the performance there was a very well-attended post-show discussion, led by Mr Perrin and involving the majority of the acting company.

Video: Tangled Feet's Arts Club spectacular

Those of you who were there won't forget it in a rush. Tangled Feet's breathtaking SHOWTIME saw their incredible ensemble of actors emerging from the crowd to race up the walls, clamber up a scaff tower, dangle from the ceiling and perform an extraordinary and exhilarating flourescent drenched spectacular to Clock Opera's awesome soundrtrack.

Now here's your chance to relive it, or if you missed it in the flesh, then at least your chance to get a sense of a magical 10 minutes at The nabokov Arts Club. Thanks to Tangled Feet for the footage.

Blogs of the Week

Besoftheblogs We're thrilled to see the Present : Tense blog mentioned in this week's Theatre Blogs Of The Week feature.

We can't take the credit though - playwright Kenny Emson's post about his writing ritual is what caught their eye. Nice one Kenny.

If you're not already reading the Present : Tense blog, get on over there. It's where this week's Present : Tense artists are posting daily updates on their progress as they create a multi-disciplinary piece of work in response to the most important news story of the moment in just seven days. It's great - and now praise garnering - reading.

Then book a ticket to see where Kenny's writing ritual got him as his work is performed as part of Present : Tense on Sunday night at Southwark Playhouse.

Present : Tense / Thirteen
Sunday 22 November 2009 // 8:00pm
Southwark Playhouse // Shipwright Yard (Corner Tooley St. & Bermondsey St.) // London // SE1 2TF
Tickets // £10 // 020 7407 0234 or

Five stars in Watford

2nd May 1997 Production Photos 034

We're made up with the review of 2ND MAY 1997 from The Watford Observer. Critic Melanie Dakin reckoned it was "utterly enlivening" and gave it the full five stars.

Melanie hung around for the post-show Q&A the night she reviewed the show, and reports some audience comments:

“It’s somewhere we’ve all been - it’s very beautifully done and also very intimate”

“I was riveted to every word; it was almost televisual"

“There’s something wrong with our society that we can’t make more plays like this”

Melanie's own opinion was:

"Jack Thorne’s utter mastery of the human drama are what make this play so surprising, so entertaining, utterly enlivening and a piece of theatrical enlightenment that deserves to run and run."

Thanks Melanie. We're thrilled you enjoyed it.

Frantic, Kneehigh ... and nabokov?

There's a great preview of IS EVERYONE OK? on the This Is Plymouth website in advance of our run at The Drum this week, with some nice things about us in it.

"Somecompanies do seem to have the knack of coming up trumps on an enviable number of occasions," writes someone or other who sadly is denied a byline and therefore proper attribution.

"They lodge in our brains, and we recognise their names with a sense of warm anticipation. Coming instantly to mind are Frantic Assembly, Kneehigh, Kesselofski and Fiske ... And on the strength of only two previous productions here, the new writing production company nabokov look as if they might be among those worth keeping an eye on."

Well, we're mightily honoured to be spoken of in the same breath as Frantic and Kneehigh, for starters, and we're always delighted if we manage to provide a sense of warm anticipation. So thank you very much anonymous staff writer. We hope you enjoy the show.

You can read the full article here.

IS EVERYONE OK? in Plymouth


The IS EVERYONE OK? tour bus is revving up its engine in readiness for a road-trip to Plymouth, where the show plays for a week at The Drum, Theatre Royal.

Performances are nightly at 7:45pm from Tuesday 17 to Saturday 21 November, with a post-show talk with playwright Joel Horwood, director George Perrin and the gang on Thursday.

If you live down West Country way, or fancy a little road-trip yourself, we'd love to see you there.

Full details here.

Stellar line-up for Present : Tense / Thirteen


We'vegot a seriously mouth-watering selection of artists lined-up to tackle the toughest creative challenge in town in Present : Tense / Thirteen.

Two of our favourite companies plus two groups of individual collaborators are preparing to create multi-disciplinary responses to the most important news story of the moment in just seven days.

You know the score ... the artists meet tonight to decide on the hottest topic on the news agenda. They then have just one week to create a response before it is performed live at Southwark Playhouse next Sunday 22 November at 8pm. And here's who taking up the gauntlet:

One of the most inovative and exciting companies around

Top notch new writing company whose current production Letting In Air is playing at The Old Red Lion (***** Whatsonstage)

Actor, producer, and all round creative whizz kid


Playwright, actor, comedienne and regular contributor to The New Statesman

All four will be working with a group of collaborators from different disciplines to create completely unique and thrillingly immediate work in response to the topic.

You can follow their progress over on the PT blog throughout the week, where the artists will be posting daily updates, and on Facebook and Twitter. Most importantly, you can buy tickets here.

Present : Tense / Thirteen
Sunday 22 November 2009 // 8:00pm
Southwark Playhouse // Shipwright Yard (Corner Tooley St. & Bermondsey St.) // London // SE1 2TF
Tickets // £10 // 020 7407 0234 or

Amplified photos

Well, it's been a week of photos here on the nabokov blog, and here are some of the latest additions to our Flickr photostream taken by Ludovic at Hampstead Theatre last week, where our new shows AMPLIFIED played for one night only as part of the Daring Pairings Festival.

As ever, there's a selection below, and you can find the rest here.

Laura Dockrill

Pieter Lawman

Amplified @ Daring Pairings


A band playing a concept album. Some poets spitting rhymes. A story about birth, death and everything in between. nabokov mixes an acclaimed playwright with musicians and poets to create a multi-genre theatrical mash-up.

We’ve been invited by Hampstead Theatre to create two brand new pieces of work for their Daring Pairings Festival, which we’re performing on Monday 2nd November at 9:30pm.

Hampstead challenged us to pair a playwright with artists from other disciplines, and we’ve got some awesome head-to-heads for you. Our writer-in-residence Joel Horwood is penning two scripts, one in collaboration with composer Arthur Darvill (Been So Long), and another with Kate Tempest, Dockers MC and [verb]swish – three of the best spoken word artists around.

We’re calling the night Amplified. It’s going to be like nothing you’ve ever seen.

nabokov presents

Written by Joel Horwood with Arthur Darvill, Kate Tempest, Dockers MC and [verb]swish

Starring Lousie Calf, Lachlan Chapman, Richard Corgan, Pieter Lawman, Daniel Rigby & Beverly Rudd
Monday 2 November // 9:30pm

Hampstead Theatre - Daring Pairings Festival // Eton Avenue // Swiss Cottage // NW3 3EU
Tickets £10 // Box Office: 020 7722 9301 //

Book online here

Kate Tempest at The nabokov Arts Club:

Dockers MC at The nabokov Arts Club:

An open letter from the Artistic Directors and Executive Director

Hello everyone,

We’ve got some exciting news – for us and for nabokov – which we wanted to share with you personally.

We started nabokov in 2001 when we were students aged 19, 20 and 21, and it has always been a young company intent on producing the most incendiary new work by the most exciting young artists for mostly young audiences. Nine years on, we're hovering around 30, and we have decided it is time for us to pass on the baton to someone else to continue and expand that mission, and for us to move on to a new challenge.

And so we are delighted to announce the appointment of Joe Murphy as the new Artistic Director of nabokov. At 24-years-old Joe is one of the most talented young directors in the UK. Joe’s passion for new work, his vision, his tenacity and his youth make him the perfect person to drive the company forward over the next few years. We are very excited to be passing the nabokov torch to someone who we know will take the company to the next level, and in exciting new directions.

All three of us will remain involved with nabokov at Board level, and of course we’ll be in the audience at every nabokov event. Ric will remain in his position as Executive Director for the foreseeable future.

James and George will be moving to Paines Plough, where we are honoured and thrilled to have been appointed joint Artistic Directors. Paines Plough is a company we have greatly admired for many years and which has been a huge inspiration to us throughout our careers. We start our new positions on 1 February 2010 and we are relishing the opportunity to build on the company’s illustrious 35 year history and the incredible work of outgoing Artistic Director Roxanna Silbert to present the highest quality work to the highest number of people across the country and internationally, and cement Paines Plough’s reputation as the UK’s national theatre of new plays.

We are hugely proud of nabokov’s achievements over the past nine years. The company has premiered new work by more than 60 playwrights, 30 directors, 80 other artists and practitioners and several hundred actors. Our work has been seen across the UK and internationally; in the West End, in a toilet in Sheffield, off-Broadway and in a field in Suffolk. In 2008, more than 10,000 people saw a piece of work by nabokov.

For this, we want to thank all the amazing artists we have been privileged to work with. Their brilliance and passion has produced this thrilling work. We also want to thank all the venues we have worked at, the producers and supporters who have made the work possible, and Arts Council England, East for their continued and invaluable support.

Most importantly, we want to thank you. Whether you’ve been to one nabokov event or 100, we’ve always made work for our audience, and we are so grateful for the loyal and effusive support we have received over the years from everyone who has turned up to see our shows and events.

We very much hope you will continue to support nabokov as the company enters an exciting new phase under Joe’s directorship. This is just the beginning. And we hope you will continue to follow our work with Paines Plough.
We’ve had the time of our life. Thank you.

James, George & Ric

Introducing Joe Murphy

Joe_murphy_headshot Here he is. The new Artistic Director of nabokov. We're thrilled to welcome him to the company.

Joe most recently worked with us as assistant director on 2ND MAY 1997. He directed Jack Thorne, James Graham, Joel Horwood and Penelope Skinner's plays in response to the show, which starred Sally Phillips and John Heffernan.

Joe's other directing credits include: Service, Building Site (Arcola/Miniaturists); After, Come on Over (Tristan Bates); The Things That Never Grew in the Garden (Hampstead Start Night); Normal (Cockpit); Julius Caesar, Esme-Tales (Edinburgh Fringe); South Pacific (Northcott).
As Assistant Director his credits include: The Priory (The Royal Court); 2nd May 1997 (The Bush); Fixer (High Tide Festival); Purgatory (Arcola); Girls and Dolls (Old Red Lion); He Said... (The Bush).
Joe has a BA(hons) in Drama from Exeter Univeristy, and a PG Dip in Theatre Directing from Mountview Academy of Performing Arts. He was a finalist for the JMK Young Director's Award 2009.

Joe's a big fella with ginger hair. You can't miss him. So do say hello at the Arts Club. He's going to do great things.

2ND MAY 1997 on tour

2nd May 1997 Production Photos 100

Following its sell-out run at The Bush, 2ND MAY 1997 heads out on the road this week. First up we're excited to return to Watford Palace Theatre, where we are a Creative Associate Company, followed by three nights at The Mercury Theatre, Colchester. Then next week we play seven performances at The Royal Exchange in Manchester.

Here are all the details:

20 - 21 October 
Watford Palace Theatre
book tickets

22 - 24 October 
The Mercury Theatre, Colchester
book tickets

27 - 31 October 
Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
book tickets

If you're London based and missed the show at The Bush, Watford is a mere 10 minutes from Euston so there's your chance. And we look forward to seeing everyone in Colchester and Manchester who have seen our shows before.

Just a reminder what the critics said:

“Playwright Jack Thorne elegantly refracts the early hours of Blair through three very different relationships...A superb 90 minutes.”
**** Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

“George Perrin's beautifully acted production…an evening of gorgeous, understated naturalism that captures one historic night.”
**** Claire Allfree, Metro

"Rising playwright Jack Thorne takes us back in time with such quiet profundity and verve you get a burst of inspiration to match the uplift of those distant days."
**** Dominic Cavendish, Daily Telegraph

There's more information on the show and the tour on our website here.

Fringe Fun


We're up in Edinburgh for the Fringe, and to our amazement, the sun's shining.

There's no nabokov production at the Festival this year, but our Artistic Directors have both directed shows. George is at the helm of the Bush's production of Simon Stephens' SEA WALL which plays at The Traverse from tomorrow until 16 August, starring the incredible Andrew Scott. George also directs Laura Solon in RABBIT FACED STORY SOUP - her first return to the Fringe since winning the Perrier Award in 2005 - at Assembly Rooms, daily at 17:05 from 6-30 August.

James directs Arts Club compere and poet extraordinaire Luke Wright in his new show THE PETTY CONCERNS OF LUKE WRIGHT at 6pm at The Underbelly from 6-30 August. James is also reunited with genius character comic Simon Brodkin for the third time on his new show STILL NOT HIMSELF, which plays at 5pm at The Pleasance from 8-30 August.

So go and see all those shows if you're in the 'Burgh. We're also looking forward to catching as many other shows as we can, so if you've got top tips for us, leave a comment below. We'll keep you posted with what we're seeing and doing on here and on Twitter.