The Tricycle Theatre has established a unique reputation for presenting plays that reflect the cultural diversity of its community, in particular by Black, Irish, Jewish, Asian and South African writers, as well as for responding to contemporary issues and events with its ground-breaking ‘tribunal plays’ and political work.
‘The history of British drama in the past 15 years must be revised. Surely its most important development has been the Tricycle docu-dramas.’
Financial Times, 2005
In 1994 it staged the first of its tribunal plays: HALF THE PICTURE by Richard Norton-Taylor and John McGrath (a dramatisation of the Scott Arms to Iraq Inquiry), which was the first play ever to be performed in the Houses of Parliament. The next, marking the fiftieth anniversary of the 1946 War Crimes Tribunal, was NUREMBERG, which was followed by SREBRENICA – The 1996 UN Rule 61 Hearings, which later transferred to the National Theatre and the Belfast Festival. In 1999, the Tricycle’s reconstruction of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, THE COLOUR OF JUSTICE, transferred to the West End & the National Theatre. In 2003 JUSTIFYING WAR – Scenes from the Hutton Inquiry opened and BLOODY SUNDAY – Scenes from the Saville Inquiry followed in 2005, which was also performed at the Abbey in Dublin, Belfast and Derry. It received an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement. CALLED TO ACCOUNT – A hearing about the indictment of Tony Blair for the crime of aggression against Iraq – was staged at the Tricycle with evidence from Richard Perle, the Chilean Ambassador to the U.N. and ex- Cabinet Minister Clare Short. All of these plays have been broadcast by the BBC on radio or television, and have together reached audiences of over 30 million people worldwide.
‘With its verbatim theatre productions … the Tricycle Theatre has consistently exposed significant fault-lines in British society and the way we are governed.’
The Daily Telegraph, 2009
In 2004, the critically-acclaimed GUANTANAMO – Honor Bound to Defend Freedom, written by Victoria Brittain and Gillian Slovo from spoken evidence, transferred from the Tricycle to the West End and New York (where Archbishop Tutu appeared in the production). In 2006 the Tricycle presented a performance of the play at the Houses of Parliament and on Washington’s Capitol Hill. It has since been performed around the world and in the US through the ‘Guantanamo Reading Project’, which develops community productions of readings of the play in cities across America.
‘The Tricycle Theatre has a matchless record in exposing injustice’
The Guardian, 2009
Notable theatre productions staged at the Tricycle have included the British premiere of THE GREAT WHITE HOPE by Howard Sackler (later re-staged for the Royal Shakespeare Company), the world premiere of PLAYBOY OF THE WEST INDIES by Mustapha Matura, which subsequently received more than twenty productions all over the world and was televised for the BBC. West End transfers from the Tricycle also include THE AMEN CORNER by James Baldwin, the Fats Waller musical AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ and THE PRICE by Arthur Miller; and transfers to Broadway include: the South African musical KAT AND THE KINGS (winner of two 1999 Olivier Awards for Best New Musical and Best Actor – awarded to the entire cast), STONES IN HIS POCKETS by Marie Jones, and 39 STEPS adapted by Patrick Barlow (both won Olivier awards in the West End for Best New Comedy).
In November 2006, the Tricycle was proud to win a Special Award at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards for ‘its pioneering political work’.
In 2005/6 the Tricycle pioneered a black ensemble company in three British premieres of African-American plays chronicling the black experience of the last hundred years: WALK HARD by Abram Hill, GEM OF THE OCEAN by the late August Wilson and FABULATION by Lynn Nottage. The Tricycle has also premiered six of August Wilson’s decalogue chronicling the African-American experience of twentieth century plays.
2009 saw the success of a season of full-length plays by Roy Williams, Kwame Kwei-Armah & Bola Agbaje, entitled NOT BLACK AND WHITE, looking at 21st century London from a black perspective. And following the general election in 2010 the Tricycle presented WOMEN, POWER AND POLITICS, a season of twelve new plays which examined both the history of women’s role in politics and the complex issues surrounding contemporary women’s participation and role in government.
‘There is no theatre in Britain that punches so consistently above its size and weight than the Tricycle‘
The Daily Telegraph, 2009
In the summer of 2009 the Tricycle also launched its seven-hour trilogy THE GREAT GAME: AFGHANISTAN, which premiered plays by Richard Bean, David Edgar, David Greig, Amit Gupta, Ron Hutchinson, Stephen Jeffreys, Abi Morgan, Ben Ockrent, J. T. Rogers, Simon Stephens, Colin Teevan, and Joy Wilkinson. The production received an Olivier Award Nomination for Outstanding Achievement and was revived at the Tricycle in summer 2010, with several of the plays updated to reflect the changes in the conflict. The production completed a tour of the USA in the autumn of 2010, starting in Washington, D.C. and travelling to Minneapolis, Minnesota; Berkeley, California and finally New York where it was met with generous praise from key policy-makers in American politics. In February 2011, the production returned to Washington to play two command performances for Pentagon staff, the military, policy-makers, aid-workers and guests.
‘The Tricycle often offers the most politically audacious programming of any theatre in London’
Financial Times, 2010
Education and community activities are an integral part of the artistic output of the Tricycle. Last year there were more than 46,000 attendances by young people to see films and plays, or to take part in workshops.
The Tricycle’s home in the London borough of Brent comprises a theatre, cinema, art gallery, café and bar, and it is open all year round.
‘Britain’s leading political playhouse’
The Times, 2011