Proforca Theatre Company launches its second season in charge at north London’s Lion & Unicorn Theatre with the premiere of its own commission play At Last. We caught up with artistic director David Brady about the inspiration for the future history play and the challenges and rewards of running a venue. Time to get booking!
At Last runs from 10 to 22 September 2019, with a press night on 12 September. It’s co-written by James Lewis and Alexander Knott and helmed by Proforca artistic director David Brady with associate director Jess Barton.
A dark, brutal, almost verbatim-style selection of interconnected monologues, At Last tells the “what if” story of the aftermath of ten years of a totalitarian right-wing regime in the UK. It is a searing search for redemption and reconciliation in the rubble of a broken society, whilst questioning who we are when everything that makes us human is stripped away.
“We don’t know how to forgive, we only know how to forget.”
This is the story of when the world went mad.
It is time to tell the truth.
The cast for Proforca’s premiere production features Melissa Phillips (Grace), Anthony Fagan (Colin), Gemma Wray (Nikki), Demelza O’Sullivan (Marie), David Angland (Danny), Michael Faulkner (Jack), Malcolm Jeffries (John) and Ciaran Lonsdale (Sam). At Last is accompanied by Hannah Bates‘ response piece At First at select performances.
Talking to… David Brady
David Brady is the founder and artistic director of Proforça Theatre Company and also the co-creator and director of At Last. He is also the artistic director and manager of the Lion & Unicorn Theatre.
How did At Last come about?
We’d been knocking around the idea which eventually became At Last for some time. There’s something very compelling about dystopian stories, parallel universes and “what ifs” – I’m a big science fiction fan, and so the idea of alternative world-building is really appealing to me. For At Last, we try and keep things as real as possible – so little divergent points in our recent history have led us all to make some different decisions, which have had massive and seismic consequences for us all.
The brilliant Jess Barton and I sat down over coffee and spent four hours last year talking about the show and our ideas and they’ve all made their way into the story. We took a brief holiday for Feel, which was when we’d originally planned to perform the show, but with the first cancellation of Brexit, it now feels right more than ever to tell a story from a world which has become a bit less kind than the one we’d like to live in.
What’s At First?
Similarly to Feel More, we’re supporting At Last with At First, which is a spin-off from the main show written by the very talented Hannah Bates and performed by Ciaran Lonsdale. There’s a very direct link to At Last, which we won’t spoil as there’s a real pay off in seeing how the two stories fit so nicely together. Having a spin-off gives us a great platform to expand our original story and explore something we really want to, which we don’t have time for in the main show, whilst at the same time rewarding the audience who are there on the nights it’s performed with something a bit special or unique.
Nearly six months into running the Lion & Unicorn, how are you feeling?
Tired! Running a theatre is very definitely hard work. We’ve completed not only opening season but a very busy Camden Fringe season too, and it’s definitely a punishing schedule. We’ve been so lucky to work with some lovely people who’ve really contributed to the theatre and the venue we’re trying to build. Watching some great emerging artists and creatives has been brilliant and helped us with our process enormously, but the experience of running your own venue is priceless (we’ve lots of really good stories to tell!)
It’s a bit tired and it’s hiding behind the bins, but it’s mine and I love it x pic.twitter.com/9DNdtZdqMV
— David Brady (@davidbrady83) August 11, 2019
What else are you most looking forward to in the theatre’s upcoming season?
We’ve got loads of stuff coming up for Season 2 at The Lion & Unicorn Theatre and we’re excited to show people. We’re working with some brilliant companies with some great work, including a brand new fringe version of When The Rain Stops Falling by Andrew Bovell from the Kindling Collective, shows from Laughing Stock, Laughing Mirror; new writing from Hooked Theatre and Bee in My Beanie; and some brand new shows from Tripped Theatre, the Uncanny Collective and the Dickens Theatre Company. We’re also honouring our pub theatre roots by hosting both the London Pub Theatres Festival as well as the London Pub Theatres Awards. So if you haven’t visited yet, do come along and see what we’re up to!
Anything else you want to add?
Very definitely a massive thanks to everyone who has supported us in our first few months at the theatre. We’ve met some properly lovely people, and had a great, if at times challenging, time. A huge thank you to our audiences, our Associate Artists and visiting companies, and of course, people like MyTheatreMates, and Terri Paddock and Matt Amer, for supporting us. One massive big thank you, though, to Phil and all the team at the Lion & Unicorn and our team for being so brilliant to work with and passionate about what we’re trying to do. We’re very lucky!
At Last runs at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre, 42-44 Gaisford St, Kentish Town, London NW5 2ED from 10 to 22 September 2019 with performances Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced £12-14. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!