Heart of Darkness goes on tour

A bold new retelling of Joseph Conrad’s influential novel Heart of Darkness is going on tour until 11th May 2019.

I haven’t seen a production from imitating the dog theatre company before, but they’re described as an original and innovative group – so the show is likely to be packed full of contemporary performance and staging techniques.

The production will explore the novel through visually rich, multi-layered work. Live performance and digital technology are blended to tell the story in a unique way. I love shows that incorporate digital technology – it adds a really cool element to theatrical storytelling.

Heart of Darkness explores the travels of Charles Marlow – a tale of lies and brutal greed. This new version is retold as a journey of a Congolese woman. Bringing it up to date and incorporating modern issues will allow the show to resonate with today’s audience.

There are some hefty themes in the show – exploitation, violence and nationalism. It might not make for a light-hearted evening but it will certainly be a thought-provoking one.

The retelling is directed by Pete Brooks and Andrew Quick, with projection and video designed by Simon Wainwright. They’re all imitating the dog founder members, so they’ll bring plenty of passion to the project.  

imitating the dog Co-Artistic Director Pete Brooks said: “As a result of recent political events we felt that the UK had become gripped with a nostalgia for our colonial past without really acknowledging what that past was. It felt like most people believe the British Empire was a reciprocal arrangement; we got rich, but they got to speak the best language in the world and have a functioning civil service. In Conrad’s novel he anticipated the horrors of twentieth century genocide and the problem of globalised capitalism. He also understood that their roots were in European colonialism. This was our starting point.

Conrad’s novel deserves to be treated seriously, and his unconscious racism does not invalidate his work, although some people might say it diminishes it. For imitating the dog, it was important that we retold Conrad’s story for audiences today, and from a new perspective. Our production is now the story of the journey of an African woman into the darkness of a war-torn Europe. Heart of Darkness is simply too important a work to be avoided because it’s a political minefield and when you take on a text as tricky as Conrad’s novel you have to tread carefully.”

Heart of Darkness is co-produced with Marche Teatro (Italy) and Cast, Doncaster. It is supported by Arts Council England, Lancaster Arts at Lancaster University and Theatre by the Lake. You can catch the show when it comes to York Theatre Royal from 9th-10th April.

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