Currently in development for a production in 2015. More Information
A series of audacious pocket-epic Christmas shows at BAC began when then Artistic Director and Medieval Players fan Tom Morris lured Carl Heap back out of a economically enforced spell as a teacher to co-write and direct Ben-Hur in an intimate space with an audience capacity of about 120. The cast of 14, led by Will Adamsdale as Judah Ben-Hur with Miranda Raison as his love-interest, fearlessly staged a sea-battle and the famous chariot race with little more than a chandelier, a table and a set of pram wheels (and the audience's imagination). The success led to two further space-defying shows: Jason and the Argonauts and World Cup Final 1966, both of which went on national tours, expanding to fill larger theatres. Warwick Arts Centre then took up the baton, commissioning St George and the Dragon which also toured the UK.
The National Theatre’s education department (Discover) commissioned Carl Heap to adapt and direct 5 Shakespeare plays to tour to London primary schools. Productions also showcased at the National Theatre Cottesloe, Unicorn Theatre and Bristol Old Vic.
Work with Drama Schools brings the pleasure of working with larger casts and highly motivated young actors many of whom go on to achieve professional success and even celebrity. Work to date has primarily been with RADA and with East 15′ s Contemporary Theatre course, two top schools with highly contrasting approaches to actor training.
The Medieval Players
Founded in 1981 by Carl Heap and Dick McCaw, the Medieval Players became one of the leading small and middle scale touring companies of the following decade. It is likely that their very popularity with wide audiences rendered them suspect in the eyes of a 'relevance'-favouring Arts Council, and they never progressed from intermittent project funding to more secure revenue funding. However, relentless regional touring, supported by some key regional arts councils, won them an almost cult following that meant that some later tours were entirely sold out in advance. Three highly successful three-month tours of Australia (‘85/’86/’88) and two collaborations with the Open University brought in valuable funding that bridged the gaps in Arts Council support. The company defied the misguided (and still sadly prevalent) notion of the medieval performer as being some sort of rude mechanical, and took the touring commedia dell' arte troupe as a kind of alternative model. Ironically, for a company drawing inspiration from the past, it is now seen as having been somewhat ahead of its time in the use of circus skills, masks and puppetry and an acting style that thrived on the acknowledgement of an unpatronised and lit audience.