The United Kingdom And Europe: Nations On The World Stage

We are joining a partnership of leading theatres in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to embark on an epic cycle of new play commissions which will explore Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s changing relationship with Europe. This ambitious programme of work will provide a platform for voices from across the political spectrum of our islands and will tell stories from England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. We will join producing partners the Lyric Theatre Belfast, Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre and Edinburgh’s The Lyceum, partnering with The RSA on talks and debates.

The launch of the project is to be marked by a symposium at The RSA, London, on Thu 21 September 2017. The symposium will run from 6.30pm to 7.45pm with a live audience of 180, and will be filmed for broadcast and podcast. Beginning with short statements from a panel comprised of Kwame Kwei-Armah, April De Angelis, Roy Williams, Tanika Gupta, James Graham and Brad Birch, a “Question Time” style debate will follow, chaired by journalist and broadcaster Mark Lawson.

The evening will be introduced by Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England, and will conclude with the launch of this epic new cycle of play commissions by our Artistic Director James Dacre, and David Greig, Artistic Director of The Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, on behalf of the four partner theatres.

The symposium is open to the public. Places are strictly limited and can be booked via The RSA’s website at

Our Artistic Director James Dacre explains: “Northampton is the geographical centre of England and our town’s history captures the polarising perspectives from the urban and rural, the liberal and conservative, the passionately local and proudly international. Royal & Derngate, here in the middle of England, has now invited all of the nations of the United Kingdom to embark on a theatrical exploration of their place in the world. Our three partner theatres will join us in initiating a cycle of plays that respond both to Brexit but also to the political and ideological divisions that recent events have exposed across the country. By bringing together a diverse group of emerging and established artists, thinkers and practitioners from across Europe, we aim to create a cycle of work that offers a unique insight into our nation’s past and present while imagining the possibilities for its future.”

Our Chief Executive Martin Sutherland added: “This project provides a platform for a broad spectrum of view and opinion. This is particularly important for us in Northampton as a clear majority of Northamptonshire voters who participated in the referendum thought that Brexit would be a positive force. Their voices will be heard too.”

Rachel O’Riordan, Artistic Director of Sherman Theatre, said: “I am delighted that Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre is playing a part in this exciting endeavour. In Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England it feels apposite that theatre makers become part of this vital discourse around identity at this time in history.”

David Greig, Artistic Director of The Lyceum, said: “In an age beset by binaries, when political debate feels like grenades lobbed over social media walls, Theatre becomes a vital gathering space. In theatre we can explore identity and ideas from multiple perspectives, it lets us see ourselves in the lives of others. Britain’s relationship with Europe will be the defining issue of the next decade so The Lyceum is delighted and proud to be part of this hugely ambitious and timely project. We hope we can contribute a Scottish perspective to the tapestry and also look forward to hosting a new canon of work from some of the best writers across the UK.” 

Jimmy Fay, Executive Producer of the Lyric Theatre added: “We in Belfast’s Lyric Theatre are delighted to be part of this imaginative and energising initiative. As Northern Ireland has been balanced on the shifting plates of culture, tradition and politics for many years we feel our perspective adds value to this timely debate and look forward to examining theatrically, and with passion, the many confused senses of identity, belonging and loss that Brexit has brought into being and that a hard border, particularly between the North and South of Ireland, will enforce.”   

Speaking about the symposium Dacre explains: “Given that this commissioning cycle will bring together a diverse range of playwrights, artists and thinkers from across the political spectrum, it feels appropriate that it should be launched with a symposium which asks: How should theatre respond to and reflect the changing role of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and Europe over the next decade?”.