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Lung Ha Celebrates Four Decades of Brilliant Theatre-Making

April 2024 marks the start of 12 months of Lung Ha Theatre Company’s 40th anniversary celebrations!

40th Anniversary Ensemble Group Photo taken at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. © Peter Dibdin

Artistic Director Maria Oller and Executive Director Ruth McEwan say: “Entering our 40th year, we are so proud of our achievements and what has come before now. We have shared incredible moments with everyone we work with and our audiences far and wide. From here, we are passionate about continuing to create fabulous theatrical experiences and breaking down barriers in our sector and beyond. Our actors are the inspiration and the beating heart of Lung Ha Theatre Company.”

As part of our 40th anniversary celebrations, this year will see the Company take part in or present:

A remounting of our 2021 hit An Unexpected Hiccup at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s biggest stage. Originally created and performed under strict COVID procedures during the global pandemic, the show is a tale of comic misunderstandings, sinister goings on and dangerous eccentricities.

This will also be the inaugural production of the Lung Ha Touring Company, which will provide further opportunities for performers to create and tour new and existing work, with bespoke and specialist actor training.

An Unexpected Hiccup is a co-production with Plutôt La Vie featuring five Lung Ha actors, written by Michael Duke after a devising process with the Company. It will be presented between 2-10 August at Zoo Southside.

The Company is also commissioning initial research to develop an Access and Creative Principles Toolkit, which will support the launch of Lung Ha Touring Company. The research aims to cover three main areas:

  1. To understand the access support structures required for learning-disabled actors in a professional company.  
  2. To apply fair and equitable pay remuneration frameworks for ourselves and other theatre companies working with actors and artists in receipt of varied and complex benefit arrangements. 
  3. To create a practical toolkit for working with learning-disabled actors which has a wider culture sector benefit and application. 

The first publication of findings is expected in spring 2025. The project is funded by The RS Macdonald Charitable Trust.

Lung Ha Theatre Company has additionally been invited as a guest contributor at the Europe In Action Conference, a partnership between Inclusion Europe and Enable taking place in May 2024 in Glasgow during Learning Disability Awareness Week, hosted by Enable who are also marking an anniversary year (their 70th). Lung Ha will be hosting the closing session of the conference with the theme of deinstitutionalisation, including a presentation about the Company’s work and a focus on the award-winning production Castle Lennox from 2023.

Also in May, Lung Ha Theatre Company will host the World Premiere of its short film, Love Like Salt, at the Traverse Theatre – a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear, featuring the Lung Ha Ensemble and co-created by Maria Oller, Susan Worsfold and Stuart Platt. The evening will also feature a short snippet from an anniversary documentary about the Company made and edited by Lung Ha actor Emma McCaffrey.

Throughout the year, Lung Ha will be spotlighting our Ensemble actors using commissioned portraits from photographer and long-time collaborator Peter Dibdin. The photoshoot was a glamorous “Met Gala meets Night at the Theatre” extravaganza. The actors were given the opportunity to curate their own costumes and threw themselves into model poses and characterful performances which are beautifully captured in this series and in our commemorative 40th anniversary Ensemble group photograph (above).

Neil Cooper, Theatre Critic for The Herald and other titles, says: “Its first show, Lung Ha’s Monkey, gave the company both its name and an identity that seemed to suggest that monkeying around on stage was a good thing. In the forty years since, that sense of liberation through play has remained at the company’s core throughout work by a stream of writers and directors who followed in [Richard] Vallis and [Pete] Clerke’s footsteps.

With current Lung Ha Artistic Director Maria Oller at the helm for the last fifteen years, the company’s radical philosophy has put it at the centre, not just of community-based arts initiatives, but of Scotland’s entire theatre ecology. Watching the company grow into itself over these years has been a joy. Long may Lung Ha continue to thrive.”

Spotlight On…

Throughout its 40th anniversary year, Lung Ha will be spotlighting our Ensemble actors using specially commissioned portraits from photographer and long-time collaborator Peter Dibdin.

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