Exchange Theatre

Exchange Theatre discuss their R&D residency

| Wed 27 Feb 2019

Exchange Theatre will be starting their residency in our Creation Space on Mon 4 Mar. We chatted to Nadia Nadif about the international company's plans.

Can you tell us a bit about Exchange Theatre?

Exchange Theatre is an international cultural organisation, established in 2006 in London to translate and produce unknown or rare international plays in English. Led by David Furlong and Fanny Dulin, we have translated and produced plays from major French playwrights like Paul Claudel, Georges Feydeau, Jean-Paul Sartre and Xavier Durringer.

Exchange Theatre was resident company at the French Institute in London for two years. The work started as English adaptations, then evolved towards a unique bilingual experiment. The response was very positive, noticing that the understanding is universal, whatever the language. Our education department offers drama classes in French and also teaches French through drama in schools and nurseries across the UK.

Each year, we produce our own theatre festival, where professionals and amateurs share the stage. In 2018, our production of Moliere’s Misanthrope, played alternately in English and French by the same cast over four weeks, was nominated for two Off West End Awards for Best Production and Best Video. Critically acclaimed by both English and French press, Exchange Theatre have finally found a real echo to the Artistic Director's theatrical voice, now heard and recognised.

How would you describe the work that you create?

Our theatre is based on diversity and our motto is "Toward the reunion of the world" (Paul Claudel). Exchange Theatre follows a vision of culture crossing borders of classes, cultures, languages or disciplines, making major pieces accessible to a 21st century audience. With a strong visual imagery, original live music, multimedia creations and the use of multilingualism, our productions offer a true sensorial experience.

Quality, originality and inter-culturalism are the key concepts of the organisation. Rooted in the heritage of the French National Popular Theatre, Exchange Theatre has been translating and producing rare historical French-speaking plays for a decade. Among others, we've translated and premiered Feydeau's untranslated one act farces and adapted an unproduced Sartre play (first since 1948). We've also devised, researched and translated unknown contemporary French literature for a British audience and created twelve shows for young audiences from classic short stories by Maupassant, Zola, Perrault, Hugo and Gautier.

2019 is a big year for our organisation as we are turning into a charity. Our mission statement will be to bring local communities together around cultural events based on foreign art and performances. We wish to give people the opportunity to experience other cultures and most importantly see that, in spite of Brexit, minorities are still strong and that the arts will make sure the littlest communities are represented and heard.

What will you be working on during your residency at artsdepot?

We are working on the second stage of research and development for Noor, our new devised play. 

What elements of the project will you be developing while you’re here?

We will be exploring multilingual scenes, multi-roling characters, and we aim to have a script as our finished project. 

What’s the most useful thing to have with you in the rehearsal space?

Windows to let the light in, speakers for music, a nice smooth floor, wall space to put up ideas and pictures for inspiration, and above all a team that have enthusiasm and a sense of play! It's also nice to feel a part of an artistic building.