Kathryn Hunter directs Paul Hunter (Told by an Idiot co-founder and artistic director) and Ayesha Antoine (Red Velvet, Garrick Theatre, Dirty Great Love Story) in Napoleon Disrobed, a playful meditation on the significance of power, based on the acclaimed novella The Death of Napoleon by Simon Leys. This follows Kathryn and Paul’s hugely successful collaboration on the Told by an Idiot international smash-hit My Perfect Mind.
The production will open at Theatre Royal Plymouth before a run at London’s Arcola Theatre and will then travel to Birmingham and Scarborough.
Napoleon Disrobed is a wry re-imagining of the final years of Napoleon Bonaparte and examines how legend can often be stronger than reality. Using the company’s trademark comic physicality, Napoleon Disrobed looks at the absurdity of trying to retrieve time and glory and dissects the notion of what it is to lose power but gain personal freedom in the transition from one identity to another.
Director Kathryn Hunter said ‘When Paul gave me Simon Leys novella “The Death of Napoleon to read, I was immediately caught by the author’s wit and playfulness. The story is not a serious historical proposition but a pretext to ask questions about how we live and what we regard as important in our lives. I am so excited to be creating this adaptation with Paul and Ayesha. Paul is pure comic genius, whose seemingly infinite invention often leaves me speechless in rehearsal. Ayesha is a performer of huge depth, strength and versatility. Together they will make a formidable pair and take us on an unforgettable journey’
Told by an Idiot explores the human condition through theatre that is bigger than life. They acknowledge the artifice of performance and make no attempt to put reality on stage, but they inhabit the space between laughter and pain, which exists in the real world. Their work is rooted in the live event and thrives on a sense of spontaneity and risk, celebrating the unpredictability of performance. Through playful collaborative writing, anarchic physicality and a comedic sensibility they create genuinely spontaneous experiences for audiences.
Through their work on stage and through their Taught by an Idiot participation work they foster a sense of openness, curiosity and the desire to play. They consistently experiment with what art can be and who can be involved, and in doing so their work blurs the lines between artist, participant and audience. Their commitment to accessibility informs the entwined relationship between their productions and their participation work.
Told by an Idiot take creative risks, they tell universal stories and they include everyone.
Theatre Royal Plymouth – The Drum
25 January to 10 February 2018
Arcola Theatre London
14 February to 10 March 2018
12 March to 17 March 2018
Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
20 March to 24 March 2018