Neil Bartlett has been making rule-breaking theatre and performance since 1983. After a controversial early career he was appointed Artistic Director of the Lyric Hammersmith in London in 1994; since leaving the Lyric in 2005 major cultural producers he has worked for include the National, the Abbey in Dublin, the Bristol Old Vic , the Manchester Royal Exchange, the Edinburgh International, Manchester International , Brighton ,Aldeburgh and Holland Festivals , the Wellcome Foundation and Tate Britain .
Neil is also an acclaimed author, with a whole shelf of novels, plays, adaptations and translations to his name. His most recent novel, The Disappearance Boy, earnt him a nomination as Stonewall Author of the Year in 2014 – and his very first novel, Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall, has just been republished ( 2017) by Profile as a Serpents Tail Classic
TWENTY-FOUR HOURS OF PEACE…
…a twenty-four-long performance; 48 actors; 237,000 words. This extraordinary one-off event – Neil’s biggest-ever piece of work in a theatre – went live on Remembrance Sunday 2019 at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. Three thousand people turned up to the live event ; tens of thousands listened to a live simultaneous broadcast on Resonance FM. Performers in the event included Toby Jones, Maggie Steed, Miranda Richardson, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Liz Carr, Adjoa Andoh…and 22 community members from across the city. Neil himself performed – at four in the morning. You can find out more about the show – and access the full 24 hours of the live recording – here.
Neil has just written a new introduction to the final volume of Derek Jarman’s journals, SMILING IN SLOW MOTION – a highly personal reflection on his meetings with Jarman and on the UK AIDS epidemic in the midst of which they met.
Also on the queer front….;
Two of Neil’s pieces have been included in Oberon’s new collection of QUEER MONOLOGUES edited by the brave and beautiful SCOTTEE
and….Neil has also written the introduction for the re-issue of Jean Genet’s astonishing novel FUNERAL RITES by Faber and Faber . A great honour- to be part of bringing a great writer ( and one of Neil’s heroes) to new readers.
The piece of Bartlett’s work that everybody is talking about just now – as we all struggle to come to terms with the Covid19 pandemic- is his powerful staging of his adaptation of Albert’s Camus’s novel THE PLAGUE, premiered at the Arcola Theatre in London in 2017, and revived there in 2018.. A recent article in The Stage in April 2020 commented ” Bartlett’s prescience in staging this piece is astonishing “; the Times said ” Time and time again, Bartlett lands on something that reverberates beyond the stage….” . The script is currently ( May 2020) in production as a radio drama for the BBC ; meanwhile, the theatre script has been published by Oberon Books – and you see can hear Neil talking about the original production in rehearsal here
The Importance of Being Earnest
Just before the London theatres went dark in March 2020 , Neil worked with a company of eight students and up-and-coming young designer Grace Venning to create a dramatic new staging of Wilde’s last play in the Vanbrugh Theatre at RADA . A bare black stage – an axe, amongst the tinkling of teacups – and a thousand pink roses falling from the ceiling provided the setting for a suitably sensational and heartfelt tribute to one of the writers Neil has been most closely associated with throughout his career.
MEDEA, WRITTEN IN RAGE
A sensational one-man re-invention of the classic Greek legend of otherness, rage and transgression. Text and staging by Neil Bartlett ( translated and adapted from the 2014 French play by J.R.Lemoine) ; solo performance by Francois Testory ; live electronic soundscape by Phillipe Von – and gown by the legendary Mr Pearl. MEDEA WRITTEN IN RAGE opened at The Place in London and then went on an acclaimed seven-city British tour in the autumn of 2017. The final UK performance of the piece was given on the closing Saturday night of the 2018 Brighton Festival, at Brighton’s Theatre Royal.
You can see some clips from the show and hear some audience reaction to the opening night performance here.
A VISION OF LOVE REVEALED IN SLEEP
A VISION OF LOVE REVEALED IN SLEEP AT THE TATE
In July 2017 Neil was invited to revive his notorious 1987 solo performance piece in the extraordinary surroundings of the pre-Raphaelite gallery in Tate Britain. The piece – dedicated to the queer Victorian painter Simeon Solomon – was first staged at the height of the first wave of the British AIDS epidemic , and this one-night only performance is an extraordinary chance to see the work again over thirty years later. You can watch a documentary film of the performance here.
You can also watch a short film of Neil talking about the show with Dominic Johnson here.
A solo six-hour live performance of Oscar Wilde’s love letter to Lord Alfred Douglas, performed in the chapel of Reading Gaol on September 4th 2016. Produced by Artangel as part of their installation project INSIDE. Bartlett’s marathon performance is now available online, and has been watched around the world.
Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall
Neil Bartlett’s first novel has just been re-issued in a new edition, with a specially written preface by the author reflecting on the changes in queer life and culture that have taken place since this groundbreaking book first appeared in 1990.
The Disappearance Boy
Neil’s new novel was published in August 2014 by Bloomsbury, and reissued in paperback in 2015. Bartlett’s fourth novel earnt him a nomination as Stonewall Author of the Year alongside Sarah Waters and Armitstead Maupin.
A new theatre piece by Neil Bartlett – inspired by the life and death of Victorian corss-dresser Ernest Boulton – opened at the Brighton Festival 2016 at the Brighton Theatre Royal; it then transferred to Hoxton Hall in London as part of the 2016 London International Festival of Theatre, and then finally played three sold-out shows at the Holland Festival (Amsterdam).
Would You Mind?
A new installation by Neil Bartlett was on display at The Wellcome Institute in London from April to September 2015 – a contemporary sex survey, displaying the private thoughts of over fifteen thousand members of the public.