Icarus Theatre Collective

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The Icarus Theatre Collective is a British theatre company.

Collective Company[edit]

The Icarus Theatre Collective is a mid-scale theatre company that 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 varried tasks and responsibilities, broadening their skill sets with each project they work on. Each artist can pitch their own major project. This can be a play, a tour, a major education project, a devised piece, which would be approved by the Collective.

Company history[edit]

Formed in the winter of 2003/2004, the company started off as a small, informal group of theatre professionals working in various sectors of the industry who 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.

Icarus' following production was named Critics' Choice in Time Out and The Church of England Newsletter. Five more critics lauded the production and the company was on their way to creating a solid repertoire of theatrical work.

In 2005 Icarus registered formally as a company and the Finborough Theatre commissioned them 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. It 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 they scooped up awards for Best Actress and the Special Jury's Prize from Fest Co 2008. While touring they received four-stars-or-better in 15 publications.

The 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 Icarus transferred their tour of Vincent in Brixton to three number one touring houses including the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Devonshire Park Theatre, and Theatre Royal Windsor. They also produced their 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 the company began with a 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 the second Shakespeare play, Hamlet, done in the style of Greek Chorus.

2011 was marked by the commencement of the company's Macbeth tour. In June 2012 the production was taken abroad to the Shakespeare Festival at the Globe in Neuss, Germany, which marked the end of the tour.

2012 continued with the start of a new tour. The productions of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Franz Wedekind's sexually controversial Spring Awakening, are currently still touring across the UK and Ireland.

Icarus' following productions will be of Shakespeare's Othello and Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler. These will tour the UK and Ireland from September 2013 through to April 2014.

Artistic Policy[edit]

The Icarus Theatre Collective explores the harsh, brutal side of classical and modern drama. The company also values post-modernism and the great surrealists, blending classic stories into a new Theatre of the Absurd, which maintains a cohesive, evocative story. Tales of mutilation, rape, and incest are not anathema to them, they rather choose to relish what others shy away from, show what others daren’t, destroy boundaries when others would create rules.

Icarus 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.


Othello and Hedda Gabler (2013-2014) upcoming productions touring the UK and Ireland.


Lewendel, Max. "Icarus Theatre Official Website". Retrieved 2013-06-19.