Improbable theatre

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Phelim McDermott
Julian Crouch

Improbable is an English theatre company founded in 1996 by Lee Simpson, Phelim McDermott, Julian Crouch (artistic directors) and producer Nick Sweeting. Improbable is funded by Arts Council England in London.[1] According to their statement: "Improbable has grown out of a way of working that means being prepared to create work by the seat of your pants and the skin of your teeth, stepping onstage before you are ready and allowing the audience to have an integral part in the creation of a show."[2]

The company "took theatre-making in new directions with a mix of puppetry, improvisation, comedy and storytelling, transforming the unlikeliest of material into striking, idiosyncratic entertainment."[3]

As well as producing shows, Improbable has been developing a more direct approach to tackling complex social and cultural issues through hosting and facilitating Open Space events which so far have occurred around the UK and in Bulgaria, Romania, Israel, Canada, USA, Serbia and Brazil.[4][5][6]

The reviewer for The Lantern wrote of the Improbable theatre's first production, 70 Hill Lane: "Improbable Theatre's production of 70 Hill Lane which opens at the Wexner Center tonight ... will shatter that stereotype. For once experimental theater has the potential to be something fun ... Phelim McDermott is one of the masterminds behind this performance ... 70 Hill Lane is impromptu with the actors making up lines and using props as they go along. The audience becomes involved, and there's a lot of humor. That's the way McDermott, and other co-founders, Lee Simpson and Julian Crouch, all from London, wanted it ... From London, the play has traveled to Cairo, Belgium, San Diego and New York gathering rave reviews."[7]

Julian Crouch and Phelim McDermott directed and designed the new musical The Addams Family, which had tryouts in November 2009 in Chicago and opened on Broadway in April 2010.


The theatre company has produced:

70 Hill Lane (1996), Animo, Lifegame (1998 & 2000), Cinderella, Coma (1999),[8] Spirit, Sticky, The Hanging Man,[9] Theatre Of Blood,[10] Stars Are Out Tonight, The Wolves in the Walls, Satyagraha[11][12] and Panic.[13]

Panic is a co-production with the Barbican Center, London, and the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio, and the Sydney Opera House. Its world premiere was at the Wexner Center on 4 March 2009. It then opened in England on 19 March 2009 at the Corn Exchange, Newbury, before fulfilling a UK Tour which ended in a five-week run at The Barbican, London.[14][15]


  1. ^ News Release funding[permanent dead link], 2008
  2. ^ "The Company", Official statement Archived 2009-05-14 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Chambers, Colin. Continuum Companion to Twentieth Century Theatre (2006), Continuum International Publishing Group, ISBN 1-84714-001-7, p. 377
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2009-03-06.
  6. ^ Improbable online social network Archived 2009-02-14 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Newmarker, Chris."Poltergeists, improvisation fuel Improbable Theatre's 70 Hill Lane" by Niki Jones and Chris Newmarker, The Lantern, 13 January 1999
  8. ^ Gardner, L. (1999, May 4). "Arts: Beautiful dreamers: It's hard to imagine a less promising subject for a play than a coma. But if anyone can make it work, it's Improbable Theatre, The Guardian, p. News: p. 13. London
  9. ^ The Hanging Man, West Yorkshire Playhouse and World Tour; 2003–2006 Archived 2006-05-30 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Theatre of Blood at the National Theatre; 2005
  11. ^ Satyagraha, English National Opera at the London Coliseum; 2007
  12. ^ Satyagraha at the Metropolitan Opera, New York; 2008
  13. ^ Official site production listing
  14. ^
  15. ^ Panic production summary Archived 2011-07-18 at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]