Project Dictator (UK)
Project Dictator, a collaboration between Rhum + Clay and director Hamish MacDougall, is a darkly comic production that uses clowning to explore the rise of populism, the complicity or fight against authoritarianism, and the role of art and
entertainment under oppressive regimes.
“When we began playing around with clowning in the rehearsal room we found that it was a perfect performance tool to ‘play to the crowd’ in a populist manner. Clowning can be both joyful and dangerous: it is naive but also potentially ignorant; it can run away with itself; it can catch fire; it can engage the audience in a live popularity contest resulting in an accidental dictator. We were keen to speak to the experience of people not only in the Western world but globally.”
For this reason Project Dictator is an international production in both its process and its intended audience.
The process began with extensive conversations with artists from Syria, Venezuela, Brazil, Hungary,Thailand, Turkey and Azerbaijan, all of whom had experience of making art under oppressive regimes. These conversations informed the vision and ambition of the piece; to make a production that speaks to our political climate now, not only in Britain, but across the globe.
Project Dictator was created specifically to speak to many different people and in different cultural settings. This is mirrored in our choice of collaborators, with our onstage musician Khaled Kurbeh hailing from Syria, and our associate di and our associate director Mine Cerci from Turkey. Both artists contributed with incredibly nuanced insight into the political climate of their respective homelands, but also stylistically, leading to the creation of a piece that feels like the culmination of a collaboration between many artists from different cultures and practices.
For this reason Project Dictator is indefinable; it shifts from slapstick DIY clown theatre to satire to a more traditional form of clown and clown storytelling. What results is a production that is funny, dark and disturbing; our response to the political minefield of the present.
Duration: 60 minutes
Target group: From 16 years
«Beautiful and bonkers – it’s the clown show about totalitarianism you never knew you needed»
Co-Director/Performer: Julian Spooner
Co-Director/Performer: Matt Wells
Composer & Musician: Khaled Kurbeh
Co-Director: Hamish McDougall
Set & Costume Designer: Blythe Brett
Lighting Designer: Simeon Miller
Associate Director: Mine Çerçi
Production Manager/Technical Stage Manager: Adam Jefferys
Sound Engineer: Ben Grant
Assistant Director: Sam Critchlow
Producer: Grace Dickson
Assistant Stage Manager: Moya Matthews
Assistant Designer: Dan Southwell
Assistant Producer: Rory Thomas-Howes
Lighting Programmer: Ben Garcia