Complicité Creative Engagement produces work that develops and expands upon ideas from the Company's main productions or ideas. These projects have taken place all over the world with people of varying interests, abilities and backgrounds, from professionals and students, to young people within and without the theatre community.
"All the best bits of education truly transform and inspire and I am sure many of the students will remember yesterday morning for a long time to come...
It is a godsend for Drama teachers as it is so bespoke and in tune with what they must guide the students to do. I don’t know of any other company which does this."
"It was great to see what Complicité do and the techniques they use. I have gained lots of knowledge into their style of theatre that I can use in my work"
Complicite Does A Level Drama
Complicité’s extraordinary ensemble of Associate Artists and theatre-makers took their A Level Drama
To support students studying for their A Level Drama, the Complicité team joined them on the journey.
In October 2021 we challenged our team of practitioners and theatre-makers to create two new devised pieces of work under A Level conditions with the supervision of an experienced teacher. The team even completed the written component of the course, all undertaken in the Company’s trademark spirit of playfulness, curiosity and risk taking.
The resulting productions toured to London schools and colleges in Autumn 2021, to audiences of students who were themselves taking A Level Drama. Complicité Associates shared their experience of the devising process and exchange ideas through a post-show conversations with the students, giving a rare opportunity for students to access the Company’s working processes with insights into physical training and play.
Original idea by Joyce Henderson.
Ensemble Catherine Alexander, Archie Backhouse, Simon Lyshon, Clive Mendus, Bea Pemberton, Jack Harrold, Joyce Henderson, Meghan Treadway
Designer Jida Akil
Stage Manager Matt Llewellyn Smith
Teacher Dawn Morris-Wolffe
Filmmakers Joe Payne and Sophie Huggins
New Frontiers, Glad Theatre
A month long artist residency working with Glad Theatre in Copenhagen
We were invited by inclusive theatre company Glad Theater, Copenhagen to collaborate with them on their first international artistic development workshop. Complicité Associate Josie Daxter spent four weeks in Copenhagen working with Glad on New Frontiers a month-long creative laboratory - an artistic residency. Performers from Glad’s ensemble came together with a selected group of theatre makers from all over Europe to participate. Directors and founders of Glad Teater, Lars Werner Thomsen and Jesper Michelsen, also took part as it was a meeting of the companies and an exchange of practice.
Complicité Associates Gareth Fry, and Yasuyo Mochizuki,, performer and teacher of movements and object theatre (Lecoq), visited during the month to work with the group in turn. Gareth and Yasuyo each brought provocations to the group, prompting exploration of how we experience the world - how our consciousness interprets sound and how we experience the body in space.
New Frontiers was designed to open up creative pathways and connections both for the participants and between the companies. It was an invitation for all the participants to dive in and get lost, to open up a toolbox of different approaches to making theatre. Together the group took a deep dive into the field of diversity, collective creation and exploration of consciouness and the body in space.
Natalie Raaum, Complicité Creative Learning Producer
Pegasus Young Company
A collaboration with Pegasus working with young theatre makers in Oxford
An ongoing partnership with Pegasus, workingwith the Pegasus 16-25 Young Company to establish an ensemble.
In the early 1980s Complicité began life at Pegasus in Oxford, performing shows such as More Bigger Snacks Now and collaborating on a project to perform in a Chilean shanty town. We are revisiting our roots at Pegasus, working in partnership with them to take the Pegasus 16-25 Young Company on an exciting journey to establish themselves as a true ensemble. Starting from January 2020, Clive Mendus from Complicité will work alongside local Director Emma Webb.
Trained at De Montford University and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Emma is a highly experienced teacher, workshop leader, director and performer, specialising in movement work. This collaboration is a long held dream, Emma says this of the first time she saw Complicité:
“I saw Complicité perform back in 1983 at Pegasus. It was a seminal moment. They are why I do what I do now. They unlocked a strange door in my imagination and understanding of theatre.”
Clive and Emma will both work closely with the Young Company in the run up to creating a performance at the end of the Autumn Term each year.
Image: Pegasus Young Company 16-25: Shift
Credit: Tim Burrows Media
Voices of the Earth
A project with young people from the Kings Cross area
In the summer of 2020 we explored the healing power of plants with our partner Global Generation and families and young people from the Kings Cross area, in our Voices of the Earth project. Through story-telling, gardening, writing and movement we explored plants appearance in myth and folklore across world cultures and their medicinal, cultural and political meaning.
The project allowed time for deep listening and celebration. Led by the groups interests and curiosity we explored stories which sat between the epic and the personal - Stories from Norse mythology and songs from the old rice fields in Italy mingled with the imaginations of young people from Kings Cross.
Complicité Associate Naomi Frederick led the participants in creating movement pieces inspired by the plants and sound designer Dan Balfour weaved together the stories into seven sound pieces. We hope they will offer a different way of seeing the Kings Cross area – the big Ash tree in the Churchyard, the Oak circle in the Story Garden to the newly planted Thyme on the corner of the Crick Institute.
A Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (RCSSD) production in association with Complicité
Once again, we teamed up with The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama to work with their graduating students on two new devised shows directed by Complicité Associates and Lecoq alumnae Joyce Henderson and Catherine Alexander.
Joyce began working with Complicité in 1992, performing in The Street of Crocodiles and The Magic Flute, and has been teaching for Complicité in schools, colleges, prisons and community groups all over the world.
Catherine has worked with Complicité for over 25 years and was Associate Director on numerous productions including; The Master and Margarita, A Disappearing Number and The Elephant Vanishes.
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, adapted and directed by Joyce Henderson is written by Jeannette Winterson and first published in 1985. The book has been found on the shelves of Cookery and LGBT sections, and now on stage. It tells the story of a young girl, religious obsession, poverty, adoption and love.
Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is adapted and directed by Catherine Alexander. The piece asks if we are living the future that this iconic novel imagined – are we plugged in to our virtual lives and losing perspective?
Commissioned by the Barbican, London
Change Makers is part of the Barbican’s 2018 season, The Art of Change, which explores how the arts respond to, reflect and potentially effect change in the social and political landscape.
Complicité partnered with the Barbican and Sydney Russell School in Dagenham to produce Barking Nuns, a research project that looks at the role of women in religion, with a focus on Saint Ethelburga, the first female Abbess of Barking Abbey.
Directed by Complicité Associate Joyce Henderson, we worked with 24 Year 10 Drama students who embarked on ‘research sessions’ at Valence House for three weeks, followed by practical workshops to explore ways of theatricalising their research for the stage. Ancient music specialist Belinda Sykes, from Joglaresa, led a choir of school teachers for six weeks who performed alonside the students at the Broadway Theatre, Barking.
'I’ve had the most wonderful experience I have ever had doing this project of Barking Nuns and I am so proud and honoured to be a part of this amazing show and to be able to work with the team of @Complicite & @BarbicanCentre !! An experience I will never forget.' Quote from a participant.
A Studio Season
A Royal Central School of Speech and Drama production in association with Complicite
Three shows from three of Complicite's outstanding Associates.
Marcello Magni, Complicite's co-founder, directed Maktub, the story of a young shepherd who pursues a dream that takes him on an epic journey across a war-torn desert. Maktub is based on Paulo Coelho’s novel The Alchemist.
Catherine Alexander, Associate Director of A Disappearing Number, adapted Alain Mabanckou's Tomorrow I'll Be Twenty: ten year old Michel's exuberant eye witness account of growing up in 1970s Pointe Noire, Congo.
Kirsty Housley, Co-director of The Encounter, created a piece inspired by Laszlo Krasznahorkai’s War & War, telling the story of Korin, an archivist on an escape mission from 1990s Hungary.
Complicité Cooks is a series of food related events that celebrate cuisines from around the world and stories that go with them.
Complicité Cooks, Syria took place at Tara Arts Theatre in May as part of the I’ll Say it Again! Festival, a season of work by women artists. The evening celebrated Syrian culture with recipes and stories from the cookbook Syria Recipes from Home, accompanied by traditional Syrian music.
Friends and passionate cooks Dina Mousawi and Itab Azzam co wrote Syria Recipes from Home, a cookbook that celebrates everything food and memory can mean to an individual, to a family and to a nation. The book was included in several Best Cook Books of 2017 lists, including Martha Stewart’s, The Guardian, The Times, London Evening Standard and many more. It received rave reviews on BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme and Woman’s Hour.
Tomorrow I'll be Twenty
Touring UK schools in autumn 2017
Set in 1970s Pointe Noire, Congo, Tomorrow I’ll be Twenty is ten year old Michel’s exuberant eye-witness account of growing up in post-colonialist, communist Africa. Devised by Complicité and the graduating students of Central School of Speech and Drama, the piece uses Complicité’s inimitable approach to ensemble storytelling to bring this captivating comic story to life.
Originally performed at The Pleasance Theatre, London, in autumn 2017, Tomorrow I’ll be Twenty will be touring schools in West Yorkshire, accompanied by a practical workshop for students of devised theatre.
Tomorrow I’ll be Twenty
based on Demain, j’aurais vingt ans by Alain Mabanckou
directed by Catherine Alexander and devised by the Company
Intezaar (The Wait)
Commissioned by Justice Project Pakistan and Highlight Arts.
Complicité Creative Learning partnered with Ajoka Theatre in Lahore to devise a piece based on true stories from Pakistan's prisons.
There are currently more than 8,000 prisoners on death row in Pakistan, making it a country with one of the largest death row populations in the world. Very little is known about the life of prisoners in Pakistan - even less about those on death row. One appalling aspect is the never-ending uncertainty and interminable wait: on average a death convict has to wait 11 years or more in prison before the State takes his or her life.
In November 2016, Complicité ran a workshop in Lahore, with actors from Ajoka Theatre, to research the topic and develop ideas for a theatre project. The Company visited prisons, met prisoners on death row, family members, jail wardens, human rights lawyers and executioners.
Rehearsals began in March and, in April 2017, Intezaar toured universities in Lahore, Faisalabad and Rawalpindi with the hope of engaging a young audience and opening up a dialogue about the corruption of the criminal justice system in Pakistan.
"an insightful commentary on the challenges of being young in the digital age - as told by young people." Audience member
Seen and Not Heard
A performance installation created by young people aged 12-16
Complicité Creative Learning, in association with artsdepot funded by John Lyons Charity
Historically, children have had little control over how they are represented in photographs, whether amateur – the holiday snap taken by devoted parents – or commercial – the grinning toddler waking up from a dry night in Pampers. Adults, and adult concerns, have shaped our idea of what childhood looks like.
Suddenly, with the explosion of the internet and accessible digital photography, young people from across the social spectrum are able to create their own images of themselves and do pretty much anything with those images – literally at the click of a button.
Does the era of social media mark an increase in narcissism and image-obsession? Or does the rise of the selfie mean that children are finally able to take control of their own images?
Seen and Not Heard is a participatory performance project which explores young people's experiences of photography, social media and to what extent they are in control of their images online. Created through a series of workshops, the performance sees the young participants running a working photographic studio, in which they take control of audiences as they dress, style and pose them for photographs.
In 2016, Complicité made two versions of Seen and Not Heard, at artsdepot in August, and Southbank Centre's WHY: What's Happening for Young People? festival in October.
Seen and Not Heard was developed in association with artsdepot and funded by John Lyon's Charity.
Hannah Roe, Female Arts ★ ★ ★ ★
"A quietly radical gem" Civilian Theatre
"A sweet subtle piece" Time Out
Like Mother, Like Daughter
If you could ask your mother one question about her life, what would it be? What is the most important thing a mother can pass on to her daughter?
Like Mother, Like Daughter is a participatory performance project for mothers and daughters from different religions, which explores the lives of women across faith groups, the mother-daughter relationship and how these two things impact on one another in today's world.
Like Mother, Like Daugher was first created for Montreal's OFFTA in 2014. Since then it has been recreated with new, local casts in London, Yorkshire and Toronto and Cork in summer 2017. To date, more than 50 women aged 13 – 83, and with Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and atheist backgrounds have taken part.
A collaboration between Complicité Creative Learning and Why Not Theatre, Toronto, and originally conceived by Ravi Jain, Rose Plotek and Poppy Keeling, iterations of the project have been supported by the Women's Interfaith Network, 3FF, Inlight Trust, Goldsmith's Company Charity and the Joseph Strong Frazer Trust.
Watch the trailer
The Intensive Cancer University
This is not a support group, but it will be supportive. This is not therapy, but it will be therapeutic. This is not the Intensive Care Unit, it's ICU.
The ICU is a project designed to give cancer patients an opportunity to think critically about how cancer is discussed, advertised, treated and otherwise considered in public. Although we are surrounded by large scale awareness campaigns and an endless barrage of cancer fundraisers, as patients we are often left to our own devices to think through what it all means: personally, politically, financially, socially, culturally, spiritually.
The Intensive Cancer University asks patients and those closest to them to engage in deeper, more critical conversations about 'the big C' and uses art (theatre, literature, film) as an impetus for conversation, for peer-to-peer knowledge transfer and for (eventually) raising the level of discourse around cancer nationwide.
The ICU is led by Complicité and Brian Lobel and ran throughout 2015.
“It’s a safer place to be for children who find maths difficult.” – Teacher feedback from the project’s first year
An investigation into the impacts of using drama in the mathematics classroom.
The Embodying Mathematics project is a Key Stage 2 curriculum and professional development project. It is a collaboration between Complicité theatre company and the Mathematics Education Research Group at Sheffield Hallam University and is supported by the John Lyon’s Charity and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.
Embodying Mathematics activities are informed by movement and drama principles and offer pupils and teachers different and enriched ways of learning mathematics. The project brings together activities developed in Complicité’s successful school based maths/drama workshops and a number of body-based activities and approaches developed by mathematics educators. All activities align with the Primary Mathematics National Curriculum.
Following a year of design work with schools in London, Complicité is now working with schools in London and Sheffield to further develop project materials and to assess their impact on pupils and the project's results will be available in early 2018.
Visit the Embodying Maths Project website
Lockleaze Primary School, Bristol
"They really loved the project and are delighted to keep 'discovering' letters and folders. The work they have produced so far is very good and their engagement levels are through the roof - they can't wait for literacy lessons!! Thanks again for this."
Orchard Meadows Primary School, Oxford
Kidnapped is an interactive classroom adventure based around the story of Lionboy, and covering key areas of the Key Stage 2 literacy curriculum.
Developed with Zizou Corder (the authors of the Lionboy trilogy) the project starts with participating school groups receiving a letter from Charlie, the hero of Lionboy, telling them that he is setting off on a dangerous mission and he needs their help.
Over the project’s four weeks, children complete a series of challenges to help Charlie get safely home. Participating schools receive weekly letters from Charlie, a series of supporting materials (with clues and evidence – maps, photographs, newspaper articles etc.) and teachers’ guides, with suggested lesson plans and a breakdown of how challenges relate to the curriculum.
30 schools and community groups across the UK took part in the project's first outing in 2013, with all the children coming to see Lionboy at the end of the project.
KIDNAPPED is supported by Complicité, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, Warwick Arts Centre and Wales Millennium Centre.
Original writing by Zizou Corder
Teachers’ Guides by Harvey McGavin
Artwork by Ezra Burke
Tea is a unique intergenerational arts project that brings older and younger people together to recapture the stories and traditions passed down through families.
Tea focuses on food – on afternoon tea to be precise – with project participants sharing their memories of teatimes past – Lyons’ Corner Houses, sugar rationing, the advent of the avocado pear…
In May and June 2012, the project was piloted at Dora House for Over-55s in St John’s Wood, London.
The project saw tenants at Dora House working with design students from Wimbledon College of Art and Central St Martins, and young chefs training at Le Cordon Bleu cookery school to transform the building's communal lounge into a fully functioning pop-up tearoom.
Over the course of the 8-week project, participants told stories and collected recipes, cooked and ate together while they honed their perfect afternoon tea menu, and then, in the final stages, re-designed and decorated the communal lounge at Dora House. The resulting tearoom was then opened to the public for three days in June, and became the setting for a dreamlike performance designed and directed by Pilgrim and inspired by memories of afternoon tea.
Tea was conceived in a collaboration between Complicité and Geraldine Pilgrim, in association with Central & Cecil Housing Trust and was made possible by a grant from The Baring Foundation.
In July 2010, Complicite travelled to Mumbai to run Hive Mind, a week-long workshop with 22 teachers brought together from schools across India.
A unique interdisciplinary Maths/Drama project led by actress and mathematician Victoria Gould, Hive Mind sees up to 1,000 school children create a human beehive in a spectacular ensemble performance.
Hive Mind builds on the work developed in the Maths/Drama workshops, which use drama pedagogy to explore mathematical principles, and to explode the myth that maths, and learning maths, is boring.
Taking the beehive as the perfect example of a world shaped by rules and systems, Hive Mind is a five-day workshop in which participants look in depth at the honey bee and its habits and then practically explore their learning by devising a performance based on these habits. On the final day of the workshop, the core group of participants teach their ‘bee habits’ to up to 1000 further children, who then perform their swarm in a mass performance.