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Icarus Theatre Collective

About Icarus

Find out more about The Icarus Theatre Collective.

Artistic Policy


Icarus creates theatre that is kinetic, intellectual, and visceral: Theatre that moves.

We choose to relish what others shy away from, show what others daren't; destroy boundaries when others would create rules. We explore the beauty of the text and skill of the actor to consider harsh, brutal themes with a modern examination of Theatre of the Absurd in classic and contemporary storytelling.

We defy the stigmas surrounding mental health, proving it is a prevalent issue in our society and one that all our central characters live with. Our education department supplements our work with a specialized, safe, workshop-style environment for young people to explore.

Diversity of opinion is encouraged to create our work. Through our placement programmes, we are committed to engaging everyone from experienced artists to placement students in continuous, lifelong learning.

Why a Collective?


Icarus is unique as a mid-scale theatre company in that it functions as a collective. A team of artists and managers run the company under the measured artistic direction of company founder Max Lewendel. Many team members collaborate on varied tasks and responsibilities, broadening their skill sets with each project they work on. In this way artists and managers can learn many skills simultaneously and the company maintains a clear, strong artistic vision.

Each artist can also pitch their own major project. This can be a play, a tour, a major education project, a devised piece, virtually anything which develops our Artistic Policy and is approved by the Collective. Such projects are supported by a team made up of the other artists and managers in the Collective, with clearly defined roles for each project.

The Icarus Theatre Collective puts the individual artist at the top of its priorities. Paramount to collaborating as a collective is a respect for individual artists and their differences, commitment to honesty and integrity, and devotion to the work produced.

Icarus succeeds by following its namesake too close to the sun, always picking plays which seem just out of their reach, soaring most elegantly and creating a beautiful organised chaos when they are stretching beyond their grasp.

Mission Statement

We aim to produce two mid-scale tours and one fringe production every year that are intellectual, visceral and engaging, and always kinetic & dynamic: theatre that moves.

Icarus aims to team artists from the international community with British artists, and experienced artists with promising young professionals. We enable both groups to build rapport and grow as artists. We will seek out those who have the potential to become their best under our wing.

We supplement our professional productions with a rich range of educational work, taking our artists and workshop leaders into schools and bringing schools backstage to theatres. Participants will not sit through lectures, but instead will work hands-on with us through customised workshops and activities.

Company History

Formed in the winter of 2003/2004, a small, informal group of theatre professionals working in various sectors of the industry embarked on their first professional production as an ensemble. Audiences packed in and critics raved: "50's absurdism made over as 90's, in-yer-face, apocalypticism!" (Time Out on The Lesson) The aftermath developed into what is now The Icarus Theatre Collective.

Our next production was named Critics' Choice in Time Out and The Church of England Newsletter. Five more critics lauded the production and we were on our way to creating a solid repertoire of theatrical work.

In 2005 Icarus registered formally as a company and the Finborough Theatre commissioned us to produce a piece of new writing entitled Albert's Boy by Finborough writer-in-residence, James Graham. The show starred Tony Award winner Victor Spinetti. The show received glowing reviews from over a dozen publications including The Stage (Aleks Sierz) and The Sunday Times. The author won the esteemed Pearson Playwright Award for the show, and the same year the Finborough Theatre won the Peter Brook Empty Space Award.

After a break of 18 months, Icarus came back together to produce The Lesson by Eugène Ionesco which toured to 37 venues across the country, transferred to Assembly Rooms at Hill Street Theatre for the duration of the Edinburgh Festival, and finally across the seas to Romania where we scooped up awards for Best Actress and the Special Jury's Prize from Fest Co 2008. While touring we received four-stars-or-better in 15 publications.

Our production of The Time of Your Life, also in 2008, featured a cast of 25 actors in one of the smallest, most prestigious Off-West-End theatres, The Finborough Theatre.

In 2009 we transferred our tour of Vincent in Brixton to three number one touring houses including the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Devonshire Park Theatre, and Theatre Royal Windsor. We also produced our first Shakespeare piece, a mid-scale tour of Othello using actor-musicians playing violins, violas, and cellos. Both these projects marked the beginning of our collaboration with Original Theatre Company with whom we later toured Journey’s End (Runner-Up, The Guide Awards, four stars in The Times, Manchester Evening News, and The Scotsman).

In 2010 we began with highly sexual piece of new writing about a gay teenager in 1981 Northern Ireland, Rip Her to Shreds, and followed with over 100 performances of our second Shakespeare play, Hamlet, done in the style of Greek Chorus.

In 2011-12, We successfully completed an international tour of our third Shakespeare play, Macbeth, using a blend of traditional and contemporary physical theatre techniques and a hauntingly evocative set design. In 2012 we began our mid-scale tour of Romeo and Juliet which was greeted with much enthusiasm all through the UK and Ireland. In Spring 2013, we introduced Frank Wedekind’s most seminal and formative work, Spring Awakening, to the tour (receiving a five-star rating from Behind the Arras).

After celebrating a successful end to our first Repertory tour of the UK and Ireland, we now look forward to another big year ahead. With the revival of Othello: The Moor of Venice for our fifth Shakespeare play to tour in Autumn 2013, in rep with Ibsen’s hauntingly provocative tale, Hedda Gabler in Spring 2014.

We also look forward to celebrating our 10th anniversary in January with the thrilling announcement that we have received Arts Council funding for the first time. This event is a significant milestone, marking a new and exciting phase in Icarus’ history.

Short History

Icarus early productions include Coyote Ugly (Critics' Choice in Time Out and The Church of England Newsletter) and Albert's Boy (Pearson Playwright Award winner) starring Tony Award winner Victor Spinetti.

After a break, Icarus came back together to produce The Lesson by Eugène Ionesco which scooped up awards for Best Actress and the Special Jury's Prize from Fest Co 2008 and received four-stars-or-better in 15 publications. In 2009 we transferred our tour of Vincent in Brixton to three number one touring houses and produced our first Shakespeare piece, a mid-scale tour of Othello using actor-musicians.

In 2010 we toured Journey’s End (Runner-Up, The Guide Awards, four stars in The Times, Manchester Evening News, and The Scotsman) and followed up with a highly sexual piece of new writing about a gay teenager in 1981 Northern Ireland, Rip Her to Shreds.

2010-2012 saw Icarus complete International tours of over 100 performances each: Hamlet done in the style of Greek Chorus and Macbeth which finished at The Globe in Neuss, Germany.

In 2012-13 we successfully completed our first mid-scale repertory tour performing Romeo and Juliet and Spring Awakening in over 80 venues across the UK and Ireland. This year we are excited to revive Othello in rep with Ibsen’s hauntingly provocative tale, Hedda Gabler.

Just prior to our 10th anniversary we are thrilled to announcement that we have received Arts Council funding for the first time.

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The Lesson by Eugène Ionesco

starstarstarstarstarStiri.Acasa.ro
starstarstarstarstaredfringe.com
starstarstarstarstarCurierul National

starstarstarstarstarRealitatea.net

The Lesson Eugène Ionesco

starstarstarstar or better
in 15 of 17 reviews

Out of all productions with a star rating in the last 3 years:

starstarstarstar or better
in 36 of 45 reviews

The Lesson Eugène Ionesco

"Max Lewendel's production succeeds by the strength of its acting and the steadily increasing tension."

Jeremy Kingston, The Times

starstarstarstar

The Lesson Eugène Ionesco

"Directed so specifically that the beast of chaos that charges through Ionesco's work like his own rhinoceros is safely routed through the play."

Rebecca Banks, Ham & High

starstarstarstar

The Lesson Eugène Ionesco

"A daring production by an energetic new company, the London-based Icarus Theatre Collective, it pulls no punches in its visceral pursuit of pure absurdism."

Daniel Lombard,
South Wales Argus

starstarstarstar

The Lesson Eugène Ionesco

Premiul special al juriului
Special Jury Prize:
Cash prize from Romania

The Lesson Eugène Ionesco

Premiul pentru cea mai buna actrita ín rol principal
Best Actress in a Leading
Role: Amy Loughton

Coyote Ugly by Lynn Siefert

"Scarlet, a wild 12-year-old, like a coyote bitch on heat".

John Thaxter, What's On

starstarstarstar

Macbeth
by William Shakespeare

starstarstarstarstarRemotegoat
starstarstarstarstarCarrick Biz
starstarstarstarstarStage, Screen, & the Mystique
starstarstarstarThree Weeks

Journey's End
by R.C. Sherriff

starstarstarstarThe Times

starstarstarstarThe Scotsman
starstarstarstarManchester Eve News

Macbeth
by William Shakespeare

With sword, axe, spear and bare fist fighting it is an impressively energetic and dynamic production.

Victoria Claringbold, Remotegoat

starstarstarstarstar

The Trials of Galileo
by Nic Young

Icarus Theatre fly into London on waxen wings, which, after this compelling production, show no sign of melting any time soon.

Edwin Reis, Remotegoat

starstarstarstar

Spring Awakening
by Frank Wedekind

Nigh-on Faultless. The cast are, one and all, magnificent.

Roderic Dunnett, Behind the Arras

starstarstarstarstar

Macbeth
by William Shakespeare

"Max Lewendel's production is fast-paced and pulls the audience straight in... Outstanding".

Von Magdalena Marek, Newsline

Macbeth
by William Shakespeare

"Particularly haunting is the piece because of the use of music and sounds, designed by Theo Holloway. The effect is outstanding".

Von Magdalena Marek, Newsline

Macbeth
by William Shakespeare

"Max Lewendel's production is fast-paced and pulls the audience straight in... Outstanding".

Von Magdalena Marek, Newsline

Macbeth
by William Shakespeare

"The play explodes into action with a high-powered fight sequence using real swords, axes and spears that superbly captured the intensity of battle".

Robin Strapp, British Theatre Guide

Journey's End
by R.C. Sherriff

"A powerfully emotive production."

Julie Watterston, The Stage

Albert's Boy
by James Graham

"Theatre at its best."

Aleks Sierz, The Stage

Coyote Ugly by Lynn Siefert

"The five-member cast fill the dim confines of the theatre like a desert storm".

Le Roux Schoeman,
Church of England Newsletter

Coyote Ugly by Lynn Siefert

"This sexy, steamy drama really hits home, especially after delivering the scorpion sting in its tail".

Philip Fisher,
British Theatre Guide

The Lesson Eugène Ionesco

"Comedy, tragedy, fear, mystery, sex, violence, disturbance: The Lesson has them all".

Eleanor Weber,
Raddest Right Now

The Lesson Eugène Ionesco

"It is impossible not to enjoy Icarus Theatre Collective’s production of Ionesco’s one-act play".

The Stage

Coyote Ugly by Lynn Siefert

"The cast navigates the perilous emotional terrain with aplomb".

Visit London (Totally London)

Coyote Ugly by Lynn Siefert

"Sizzling bursts of desire and hate among the North American sands".

Timothy Ramsden,
Reviews Gate

Albert's Boy
by James Graham

"Extraordinary...
Victor Spinetti is outstanding."

Cheryl Freedman,
What's On in London

Albert's Boy
by James Graham

"A beautifully crafted piece."

Joanna Bacon,
Rogues & Vagabonds

The Lesson Eugène Ionesco

"The Icarus Theatre collective's production of Eugène Ionesco's absurdist masterpiece is brilliant. A fast-paced, sixty-five minute screaming journey from a bare classroom into utter chaos."

Kevin Hurst, Extra! Extra!

Many Roads to Paradise
by Stewart Permutt

"You would pay a lot of money in the West End for a class act like this, so why not pop along to the Finborough and find out what great nights are made of."

Gene David Kirk,
UK Theatre Web

starstarstarstar

The Time of Your Life
William Saroyan

"Book as soon as possible!"

-Claire Ingrams,
Rogues & Vagabonds

The Time of Your Life
William Saroyan

"This is the kind of consoling play we need right now."

-Jane Edwardes, Time Out

Romeo & Juliet
William Shakespeare

"A rollercoaster rendering of the play that dragged the audience on a fast-paced soul-stirring ride for two heart-rending hours."

Team Locals

Romeo & Juliet
William Shakespeare

"An excellent take on a globally-renowned tale of true love."

Take on the Road by Lauren Razavi

Romeo & Juliet
William Shakespeare

"Props to Icarus Theatre Collective for putting on such a fantastic show."

 

Team Locals

Romeo & Juliet
William Shakespeare

"A fresh and invigorating version of this time-honoured romantic tragedy."

Darlington & Stockton Times - Christina McIntyre

The Time of Your Life
William Saroyan

"Fine performances from the 26-strong cast."

-Michael Billington, The Guardian

The Lesson Eugène Ionesco

"You can reach out and touch the emotional atmosphere."

-Julienne Banister,
Rogues & Vagabonds


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